Pick a spot...but which spot?

Pick a spot...but which spot?

Pick a spot...but which spot?

     I see so many dif­fer­ent “schools, cour­ses, or class­es” late­ly tout­ing their abil­i­ty to make you a bet­ter hunter, archer, etc. While I’m sure there are many great bits of knowl­edge the stu­dent can take away, there’s no sub­sti­tute for lessons learned in the field on your own.

     In the fa­mous words of Bear Claw Chris Lapp, “Can't cheat the moun­tain, Pil­grim, the moun­tain got its own ways.” In a nut­shell, there’s no short­cut to be­com­ing a pro­ficient hunter, it has to be earned in the field. I say this of­ten, the guys that are con­sistent­ly suc­cess­ful have learned from their mis­takes and use those lessons to cap­i­tal­ize on the op­por­tu­ni­ties giv­en to them in the field.

    To that end, I’d like to share some­thing I’ve nev­er heard any of the “ex­perts” discuss which is where to aim on cer­tain types of an­i­mals. Most guys aim at the low­er third line right be­hind the crease of the shoul­der, which is great for some sit­u­a­tions. How­ev­er, there are many vari­ables in­volved as to that be­ing cor­rect; species, dis­tance, an­gle, and the an­i­mals lev­el of alert­ness.

     If you’re ques­tion­ing as to why the species mat­ters, let me ex­plain what I’ve observed over the last 35+ years as a bow hunter. Be­ing blessed to have been raised in the south, I had the op­por­tu­ni­ty to match wits with south­ern white­tails (aka crackheads) and the wild hog ba­si­cal­ly on a year round ba­sis. The ben­e­fit of hunt­ing those two species on the reg­u­lar was the dis­tinct dif­fer­ence in their re­ac­tion at the sound of the shot. Let me expand...

     What I start­ed to no­tice was that I would hit many deer high and for­ward into the shoul­der but with hogs I’d find a lot of shots were fur­ther back to­wards the mid­dle. If I’m be­ing hon­est, it took a while to re­al­ize what was hap­pen­ing but once I did the light bulb went off in my head. With deer, the ma­jor­i­ty would drop and swing their head towards their tail but in con­trast the hogs would usu­al­ly lunge for­ward.

     So, what to do in re­sponse to this new dis­cov­ery? From that mo­ment on­wards I would pick a spot 6” back from the shoul­der on deer and with hogs I’d hold up tight to the shoul­der. Sub­se­quent­ly, as my ex­pe­ri­ence ex­pand­ed into oth­er species across the globe I found my­self study­ing videos to see how cer­tain species would re­act to the sound of the shot pri­or to hunts. What I found fas­ci­nat­ing is that most pig species re­gard­less of lo­ca­tion were for­ward lung­ing an­i­mals as are most an­te­lope species whether it be in Wyoming or Africa. This in­for­ma­tion be­came a crit­i­cal fac­tor in con­sistent suc­cess for me over the years.

     Dis­tance; Any­one that knows me is aware of my aver­sion to long shots, es­pe­cial­ly on white­tail. To each his own and what some con­sid­er eth­i­cal shot dis­tance is their busi­ness.

     With that said, dis­tance is a ma­jor fac­tor in point of aim as an­i­mals will have more or less time to re­act as well as their prox­im­i­ty to the sound of the bow will de­ter­mine the ex­tent of their re­ac­tion in most cas­es. Now, tak­ing into con­sid­er­a­tion the pre­vi­ous dis­cus­sion re­gard­ing species; my ex­pe­ri­ence with an­te­lope rang­ing be­tween 25 and 40 yards will find my point of aim al­most straight up the leg while on white­tail I’m closer to low cen­ter to the point of be­ing on the bel­ly.

     An­gle; This does not just ap­ply to tree stand hunters as many west­ern hunts have steep shot an­gles as well. If you aim at the same spot every time re­gard­less of an­gle you’re go­ing to ex­pe­ri­ence fail­ures at some point. For down­ward an­gles the point of aim should be high­er than nor­mal to en­sure that the ar­row will pass through vi­tals all the way through the an­i­mal. In con­trast, an up­ward an­gle may find the point of aim almost at the bot­tom of the an­i­mal. The key here is to imag­ine the ar­row’s path and where the exit will be. This is a ma­jor prob­lem I have with the scor­ing rings on 3D targets but I will di­gress.

     The an­i­mals lev­el of alert­ness is one of the most cru­cial as­pects with re­gards to point of aim as well as eth­i­cal dis­tance but that’s for an­oth­er time. I see so many hunters make a bleat­ing sound to stop an an­i­mal that is bare­ly mov­ing and with­in close range. They have im­me­di­ate­ly con­vert­ed an oth­er­wise calm an­i­mal to a coiled spring as well as giv­en away their po­si­tion. Chalk it up as an­oth­er gift from the tragedy that is hunt­ing tele­vi­sion.

     A calm an­i­mal is al­ways a bet­ter sit­u­a­tion and yes I’ve seen the graph­ics of how an alert an­i­mal drops less than one with its head down but it’s not a one size fits all thing. While it may be con­tro­ver­sial, I much pre­fer a slow mov­ing an­i­mal that is not alert to a ful­ly alert, mo­tion­less an­i­mal. Of course, range will fac­tor in on this as well.

     To wrap this up, there is a lot of nu­ance in all the above but it’s lessons that will come from ex­pe­ri­ence.....your own ex­pe­ri­ence. If I had one piece of ad­vice for bow hunters that are striv­ing to learn it’s to get as many doe tags avail­able in your area as well as des­ti­na­tion hunts. Killing big bucks and bulls is great, but if it’s your first shot of the sea­son or even longer it’s not go­ing to be tough to ex­e­cute. If you’re putting arrows through does of­ten the shots be­come sec­ond na­ture.

     I hope this helps and as al­ways thank you for your con­tin­ued sup­port of this small, fam­i­ly owned com­pa­ny.