What's the Best Bowhunting Advice for a Successful Season?

Question: I am 15 years old. This past season I had several opportunities at deer, yet never scored. I am driven to get a bow kill this year. What is the single best advice you can give me?Ben Trom, Blooming Prairie, Minn.

My Best Piece of Advice

The animal is always easier to tag when it doesn't know it's being hunted. This single universal rule applies everywhere and under every situation where you will hunt. If you do nothing more than focus on every possible way to can keep the game from knowing you are hunting it, you will immediately become a better bowhunter. Here are some of the many ways that simply obeying this rule will improve your success rate.

Living By the Rule


Let's say you just found a very good-looking scrape located at the bottom of a draw. The moist earth is ripped up so deeply that you could actually stumble into it. Just to your right is a perfect oak tree with the leave still on to provide plenty of cover for your stand. Are you going to hunt it? You won't if you are serious about Rule Number One. Such a location looks great, but the swirling winds in the draw will educate too many deer. It is better to try to find another location nearby where the wind is more predictable.


You've just climbed down from your evening stand. The hunt was a bust. You saw nothing and are not sure you want to hunt the stand again. You can take the long way back to the truck using a ditch, a creek and an old farm road or you can cut the walk in half by heading straight toward your truck past a feeding area.Will you take the shortcut? Rule Number One rears its conservative head again. Even if you don't plan to hunt the stand again you should still do everything possible to keep from alerting even a single deer. Your stand exit route is just as important in reducing your overall impact to your hunting area as your entry route.


You've had a tough three days of hunting. You've only seen one small buck and now you're tempted to walk your best areas to figure out where all the deer went. Are you going to put on your walking boots? You better not if you have any respect for Rule Number One. There's a fine line in scouting.

Too much is actually worse than none at all. Your stands are located where they are for a reason; trust your instincts and the information you gathered during the off-season. Playing hopscotch with your stands in a desperate attempt to strike gold is a losing proposition.  All you will do is educate deer — spooking the very animals you are trying to hunt. If you are going to do any scouting at all, keep it low impact and stick to the downwind fringes of the cover.

You've been waiting all summer for the bow season to finally arrive and now the magical date arrives. Your best stand is located next to a ridge top bedding area. You saw three nice bucks from that stand late in the rut the previous season and you can't wait to get back and hunt it again. Saturday finally arrives and the wind is perfect. Are you going to hunt it? You won't if hope to see a repeat of last season's action.


Rule Number One requires that you leave your best stands alone until the times when they are most likely to produce action. It is too risky to hunt a bedding area before the bucks are in there chasing does. All  you will do is alert a bunch of deer to the fact that they are being hunted. At the wrong times the reward is not worth the risk of burning out a potentially great stand.

Forming a Strategy

Here's a bare-bones approach to the season that can serve as an outline for your success. Ideally, you have a number of decent stands located in lots of different kinds of places. You can hunt a few stands along field edges early in the season while deer are still feeding. You can do this without getting close to the sensitive core of your hunting area. As the rut nears you should increase your pressure by hunting closer and closer to the areas that have the most deer activity. At this time travel funnels between two bedding areas are a great choice.


Finally, as the rut peaks and the firearms season draws near (whichever comes first), you should be hunting close to the bedding areas and overlooking the highest activity areas where you hunt. By increase the pressure slowly you don't burn out your hunting area before prime time.

Let Rule Number One guide everything you do in the woods this fall. Sure, there are times when a few calculated risks are worth taking, but for the most part, your strategy should be very conservative with only one goal: don't let them know they are being hunted.

Recommended for You

These tools and tactics are what minimalist tree saddle hunters use to climb! Treestands & Blinds

How Do You Get Up the Tree for Saddle Hunting?

Greg Staggs

These tools and tactics are what minimalist tree saddle hunters use to climb!

We break down how the different types of odor eliminating technologies work for bowhunting. How-To

Everything You Need to Know About Scent Control

Darren Warner

We break down how the different types of odor eliminating technologies work for bowhunting.

Light up a buck's taste buds while drawing him in for a close shot. Whitetail

Hidey-Hole Whitetail Food Plots

Brad M. Mormann & Dr. Grant R. Woods

Light up a buck's taste buds while drawing him in for a close shot.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Bill Winke

Bill Winke's Top Five Bow Shooting Tips

Petersen's Bowhunting Field Editor Bill Winke give us his top five bow shooting tips

How to Paper Tune Your Bow

How to Paper Tune Your Bow

Bill Winke walks you through his tried-and-true process of how to most effectively paper tune your bow.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

We Rank 16 Top Models on Sharpness, Accuracy, Penetration & More


It's that time of year when Arrows & Broadheads

2017 Fixed-Blade Broadhead Test

Jon E. Silks - December 12, 2017

We Rank 16 Top Models on Sharpness, Accuracy, Penetration & More It's that time of year...

Check out our top picks for the best new mechanical broadheads to debut at the 2019 ATA Show! ATA Show

New Mechanical Broadheads for 2019

Brian Strickland - January 10, 2019

Check out our top picks for the best new mechanical broadheads to debut at the 2019 ATA Show!

Check out our list of the best new hunting arrows from the 2019 ATA Show! ATA Show

Top New Arrows for 2019

Tony J. Peterson - January 10, 2019

Check out our list of the best new hunting arrows from the 2019 ATA Show!

See More Stories

More How-To

Sharpen your shooting skills on these challenging moving targets.
 Grouse are a big-game hunter's How-To

4 Small Targets that Boost Big-Game Accuracy

Darron McDougal - August 31, 2018

Sharpen your shooting skills on these challenging moving targets. Grouse are a big-game...

Try these tactics for sneaking out of the woods when you're surrounded by deer at dark! How-To

How To Leave Your Treestand Without Spooking Deer

Bill Winke

Try these tactics for sneaking out of the woods when you're surrounded by deer at dark!

Mid-Summer Is Prime Time to Watch Large-Racked Bucks — and Stoke Fall Enthusiasm! How-To

Summer Scouting Spectacular

Bill Winke - July 17, 2019

Mid-Summer Is Prime Time to Watch Large-Racked Bucks — and Stoke Fall Enthusiasm!

See More How-To

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.