August 01, 2023
Luck certainly plays a role in bowhunting, but I also believe each of us is responsible for creating most of that luck, whether good or bad.
Right now, in the months leading up to opening day, there are many things we can do to prepare ourselves for the “big moment” we all hope to experience this fall. We can practice shooting, hang trail cameras and cut shooting lanes. We can also consider past mistakes and do whatever possible to prevent the same ones from happening again. This month, I want to focus on one often overlooked area that can be a big mistake — heading afield with noisy bowhunting clothing.
Let’s dip back into your hunting memory vault. Remember that time you waited all fall for a chance at your target buck? Finally, it happened, but just as you were getting to full draw that buck heard you and ran away. Man, that was bad luck, right? Wrong!
Perhaps you think the buck heard your arrow sliding across the rest, or maybe your stand creaked as you shifted into shooting position. While those things do happen, I contend that in the vast majority of cases it is the bowhunter’s clothing that is too loud. In fact, I believe this so strongly that it has become one of biggest pet peeves about the hunting industry.
Nowadays, you can go to a big hunting store and try on 20 different articles of clothing. I guarantee 15 of them are made from fabric that is too loud for you to draw your bow without a nearby deer hearing it. What really bothers me is the fact that so many fellow bowhunters will live out that exact situation and blame themselves for moving at the wrong time. They don’t even realize how loud their clothing is.
Here’s my advice: Go back to that hunting store and find some clothing that is going to give you the best chance of success. This starts with picking a camo pattern that’s best suited for the terrain where you’ll be hunting. That’s one of the reasons I love Mossy Oak, because the company offers patterns for any bowhunting scenario imaginable, from Obsession in the spring woods to Country DNA in the fall woods to Mountain Country in the Rockies and even Break-Up Eclipse in ground blinds.
Once you’ve got the right pattern, find some items that fit you really well — not too tight and not too loose. You don’t want baggy bowhunting clothing that could get in the way of your bowstring or brush against your stand while you are maneuvering for the shot.
Now that you’ve found a few items that you really like, make sure they are made from material that is silent. To do this, go through the motions of the hunt, right there in the middle of the store or in the dressing room. Pretend to reach up and grab your bow off its hanger, then go through all the motions of raising your bow, drawing the string and settling in at anchor. As you do this, focus on the noise the clothing makes. Listen closely. Better yet, ask someone to stand several feet away and listen.
If the clothing makes any noise you can hear, take it off and walk away. If clothing makes noise that registers to a human while standing in a store, I guarantee it will spook a deer once you are outside on a cold, calm day in the woods.
Start the whole process over and repeat until you find the perfect clothing that checks all the boxes — it fits you well, it blends seamlessly into to your hunting area and it’s silent. That last detail is just as important as practicing all summer with your bow and doing your scouting homework so you know where to set up on opening morning. After all, if you can’t get to full draw undetected, all the other effort you put into your hunt is wasted.
Bowhunting is a game of small details, and it took me many years to truly appreciate just how critical a detail quiet clothing can be. This year, make sure your bowhunting apparel is as stealthy as you are. I guarantee adding this detail to your pre-season preparation will boost your luck this fall!