You Better Practice as You are Going to Hunt

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We have probably all heard stories like this...

My jacket was so heavy, I could not get a good sight picture through the scope - I could not pull the rifle far enough rearward.

My winter boots were too large to get into the climbing straps on the lower part of the climbing stand.

The bow string clipped my new safety harness as I made my release.

I could not properly "feel" the trigger through my gloves.

The hood of my jacket fell into the way, blocking my view through the scope.

I had to turn in the stand and could not draw the bow - or was uncomfortable with the shot and the arrow went awry.

My binocular harness interfered with drawing the bow and I missed the shot.

My jacket sleeve brushed the string as I released the arrow.

All of these have ruined hunts and could have been prevented.

Most could have been prevented easily.

Practice - exactly like you are going to hunt.

Consider all angles as you make your preparations.

You will not catch every one of them, but hopefully you can eliminate the crucial ones before they create a failure to execute properly.

Climb a tree, even in your yard, with all of your gear. I know this looks silly but it is important.

Shoulder your rifle in full cold weather geat - got a good sight picture?? I even have 2 rifles that are set up differently, one with a shorter length of pull for a heavy jacket.

Shoot your bow with cold weather gear on - this one is incredibly crucial and has ruined many hunts.

A cut off sock, pulled onto your left sleeve (if you are a right handed bow shooter) will compress your bulky sleeve and reduce the chance of string interference.

Shoot with your safety harness and binocular harness in place...

Shoot from your stand - with it elevated in the tree. I am afraid of heights and I behave differently in the stand when I am 15 feet up than I do at ground level.

Are the carry straps of your stand long enough to properly carry the stand when you have your cold weather gear on?

Make sure your stand is comfortable - and that you can use it with your cold weather gear on (remember the boots??? This did happen to me last year with a pair of winter pac boots on).

Is your pack large enough to carry the additional gear you need for a cold weather hunt?

Do have a spare bow and have you practiced all phases with it?

Does your release fit properly with extra clothing on?

Do you have a spare release?

All of these things - and a hundred others - can get Mr. Murphy and his all important rule involved in your hunt.

Have you eliminated these problems through real life practice???

I am going on what I consider the trip of a lifetime in November - two trips actually - to Illinois for a week of bowhunting and later for a three day shotgun hunt.

I am working frantically (and driving my wife crazy in the process) trying to make sure I have driven as many of these mistakes out as I can.

Mr. Murphy - go away!!!!


groovy mike's picture

And this doesn't apply just to bow hunting.

Jim – you absolutely have this right.  And this doesn't apply just to bow hunting.

 We should all practice exactly like we are going to hunt.  This includes the weapon, ammunition, and clothing including hats and gloves.  There is just no other way to be better prepared.  It’s great advice to shoot with your safety harness and binocular harness in place.  I have considered target shooting from my hunting stand but never done it.  Because I don’t want to chase deer out of the area.  But if you have a portable stand you could hunt target shoot from it outside of your hunting area. 

I’m glad to see that I’m not the only one afraid of heights!  My buddies swear by tree stands but I don’t trust them!  I much prefer hunting on the ground !

Anything we can do to send Mr. Murphy packing is worth doing.  So much else can go wrong that we DON’T have control over – we owe it to ourselves to save ourselves as much grief as possible through real world practice as much as we can.

Great tip, thanks for the reminder!


jim boyd's picture

Most of you are probably

Most of you are probably tired of hearing about it by now - but I have the trip of a lifetime coming up in NOV - two of them actually - and I have driven myself (and my darling bride) crazy the last few months trying to get ready.

Try practicing for a mid winter hunt in 90 degree weather!!

Thank goodness it cooled down just a little bit lately so I could wear the jacket, gloves and hat while I shot the bow.

Come on Saturday - Illinois, here we go!!

outdoorsman121's picture


Good Point. I also belive that a hunter should practice as if he or she were actually hunting!!:thumbsup1: 

Critter done's picture

Great Tip

Practice like you are going to hunt I was always told.

jaybe's picture

The same goes double for bowhunting.

When you are bowhunting, all the above is true, with the addition of the effect it has on shooting form and technique.

Anchor point can be affected.

The string can easily hit heavy clothing - either on the chest or arm upon release.

If you're hunting from a tree stand, you may not bend at the waist for a sharp, down angle.

Lots of things can change with the addition of heavy clothing.

Good tip and something to be sure to remember for those late season hunts.