By Christian Berg
I have a question that maybe you can help me with. My tree stand is 22-feet high and I have been told to aim low when shooting at a deer. My husband says to aim normal, maybe raise the pin an inch higher then center body mass.
This weekend I ranged a deer at 27 yards, so I aimed lower like my brother-in-law said and shot just under the buck.
My question is: If I would've listened to my husband, would I be putting my hands on that buck? Please help me know if I'm to aim high or low when shooting from a tree stand."
Editor Christian Berg's Answer:
First, the question of whether to aim higher or lower on steep uphill and downhill shots is a classic. Many people think the answer must be different, but in fact what you want to do is aim LOWER for BOTH.
Hopefully we can give you a clear answer without delving into a boring geometry lesson, but basically, it involves accounting for the angle of the shot rather than the linear distance between the shooter and the target.
One of the simplest solutions is to buy an angle-compensating laser rangefinder. This way you have a failsafe unit that will tell you exactly what range to "aim for" rather than simply how far away the animal is.
Failure to aim lower on steeply angled shots is a major reason many archers shoot over the top of deer from treestands. In this particular case, a 27 yard shot doesn't make for a very steep angle.
My guess is the "aim for" distance was probably close to 24-yards. Depending on your arrow speed, at that range, you probably would have been good simply placing the gap between your 20- and 30-yard pins in the middle of the deer's chest.
Second, another VERY COMMON problem for treestand shots is that the archer simply lowers the bow arm to get the pin on the deer rather than maintain proper alignment and bending at the waist to lower the bow.
Simply lowering the bow arm changes the relationship between your peep sight and your bow and will cause you to miss HIGH. I understand you shot under the deer, and there could be more than one contributing factor to your miss.
However, I can tell you with certainty that you will always aim LOWER on uphill and downhill shots, and that it is critically important to maintain proper form with your upper body despite the angle.
In the end, I can offer one piece of advice that I think is worthwhile: get into a treestand and PRACTICE making shots from an elevated position. Set a few targets at 10, 20 and 30 yards and keep practicing until you feel comfortable and figure out what your keys are for making good shots from your tree and what went wrong when you make the bad shots.
Your confidence will be a lot higher next time you go hunting, and you won't have to argue with your husband about whose fault it was for missing your deer! Good luck and hopefully you get a second chance.