Of the last 22 bucks I have shot at, my average shot distance was 29.4 yards. My shortest shot was 5 yards from the base of the tree, and my longest was 52 yards. Fully 12 of those 22 bucks were walking when I either shot at them or made a mouth bleat to stop them for the shot.
Not satisfied with my own experiences, I surveyed 10 friends to see what types of shots they were taking. The profile for this group leans toward the hardcore bowhunter; the type who practices a lot and constantly thinks about ways to be more successful.
Adding in my friends' responses, the survey included 160 shots at whitetails. The average shortest shot was 4.2 yards. The average longest shot was 39.2 yards. And the average overall shot was 19.1 yards.
When looking only at the average overall shot, it would be safe to say whitetail hunting is indeed a 20-yard game. But when you start looking at the extremes, you quickly see it is anything but. In fact, my own shots tended to be a bit longer than those taken by my friends.
I often set up for slightly longer shots to keep deer from detecting me. So, all things considered, I think it's more accurate to say whitetail hunting is more like a 5 to 50 yard game. And when preparing for the season, it is best to prepare for every realistic shot, not just the routine 20-yarder.
Watch Bill Winke's video tips, above, to find out how to make those clutch shots on deer during the season.