Tips and Tactics for Early Bow Season
Feature image: Clint Schwach of The Virtue TV
Early bow season tips and tactics are on the minds of bow hunters across the nation. If you are among them, you might be frantically searching for a tactic that could swing you an opportunity at your hit-list buck. There are many things you need to consider in the early season to help fill that tag, but fixating on the tactic that is tailored to your situation should be your focus. With limited deer movement, humid weather increases the need for scent control, and shifting weather patterns, the early season is the perfect recipe for difficult hunting situations. However, just remember that the early season has many positive attributes, too. These include longer days and milder weather, and also some key weaknesses deer might exhibit for you to capitalize on. Bow season is here whether you are ready or not, take a breath, stop being overwhelmed and focus on these bow hunting tips!
Reevaluate Your Archery Gear
Like anything built to last, a good foundation is a good way to start out your bow season. Sure you might have spent the summer fine-tuning your bow setup, but taking another look is not a bad idea. While bow sights, bow rests, quivers, broadheads, stabilizers, and other equipment are relatively simple, one overlooked key component in your bow hunting setup is the arrow. Careful planning towards your arrow configuration and components are critical. Arrow flight can be affected by many factors including arrow spine weight and straightness, fletching, arrow inserts, arrow nocks, and broadheads. While it might be too late to completely change your entire arrow setup, taking another look might reveal a slight tweak that could increase accuracy.
As an example, one very critical component of the arrow is its fletching. Vanes on the back of an arrow steer the arrow during flight, keeping the front and back end in correct alignment. Mass-produced and fletched arrows are not always tuned properly and are subsequently the reason for inconsistent shooting. Accurately tuned and fletched arrows can greatly improve your shooting performance. Some problems that you might be encountering with ill-tuned arrows are:
- Vanes grazing the arrow rest
- Stray arrows from solid groups
- Irregular arrow flight and point of impact
While you might be doubting the importance of fletching, don’t dismiss this easy fix for better archery shooting. Believe it or not, you don’t have to take your arrows to a pro-shop to achieve this!
The Addition of Lighted Nocks
The use of lighted nocks in your setup provides a greater level of confidence on that early season hunt. Having the ability to focus on the arrow through flight to the target is critically important to the bow hunter. This is especially true in the early season as deer move and present opportunities in extremely low light conditions. Without a lighted nock, you simply have to judge your shot based on sound, the deer’s behavior, and the resulting blood trail. Lighted nocks are a terrific tool in a bow hunter’s toolbox and provide immediate shot feedback both in practice sessions and during the hunt.
Practice sessions, both before and during hunting season, are paramount in developing confidence and accuracy with archery equipment. Lighted nocks are one of the best ways to make practice sessions as effective as possible. The use of lighted nocks in your practice sessions is a game changer when identifying arrow flight paths, patterns, and characteristics. Being able to quickly identify issues with arrow flight, archery form or other equipment such as arrow rests or releases is much easier to determine with the use of lighted nocks.
This also brings up one critical early season bow hunting tip…practice makes perfect. While that might seem redundant in most archery blogs you read, the point being made here is that you should practice how you hunt. Yes, that means shooting extreme archery angles like you might on an elk hunt or shooting from a tree stand, but also practicing with the same gear you will be using. You should be practicing with your broadheads and your lighted nock on your arrow, tuning your bow to that setup rather than a normal arrow nock and field point. While the broadhead and lighted nock might not significantly affect the shot, every bit of tuning helps!
Click the link below to find out more on Nock Out® Lighted Nock’s practice mode.
Early Season Bow Hunting Tips
Early season bow hunting tactics are often different than the rut-crazed later season hunting we all thirst for, but it is a great opportunity to fill your tag. Early season tactics often center on food and the tail end of summer patterns. With fall and winter months just around the corner, deer are consuming critical calories before breeding seasons and winter months. The food sources that you should focus on for hunting opportunities are generally:
- Fall plots
Early season weather patterns and changing foliage are key items you should consider on your pre-rut hunts. Wind patterns change from dominantly south to north often during this time of year, and cover and color of fall foliage change from green to orange and brown. Consider multiple hunting scenarios and setups depending on the environmental conditions when you key in on an early season food sources.
Deer movement usually centers on early dawn/first light, and late afternoon and evening hours. The only way to catch earlier daylight movement would be to move closer to bedding areas. However, doing this could also put hunting pressure where it may not necessarily be needed this early in the season. Rely on observational hunts and trail cameras to reveal key intel before making a move this early in the season.
As late October approaches, more aggressive tactics can and will work. Centering closer to core areas, especially during cold fronts, could expose opportunities at mature bucks. Overall, the early season can be a difficult and overwhelming period. Keep your wits, only make smart moves, double and triple check your equipment, and always keep your eyes open for opportunities. The best thing about bow hunting in the early season is that plenty of opportunities exist, and you have the rest of deer season to capitalize on them!