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10 Major Bowhunting Mistakes by Byron Ferguson
Excerpted from his book BECOME THE ARROW

1. Using wrong approach route to stand.

The most direct route is not always best.

2. Placing stand too high.

The higher the stand, the tougher the shot. There are more obstructions and tougher angles, less chance of double-lung hits. Rule of thumb – climb in cover or climb high, but only as high as conditions dictate.

3. Mis-reading sign.

To avoid hunting a “cold” stand, learn to age the sign deer leave behind. Many times I found areas loaded with old sign, but the deer had either depleted the food or simply moved to a more favored food. Make sure the sign you see is fresh.
Ferguson’s log-tossing bear, the happy hunter himself, and Santa Claus in a camo suit telling Ferguson that Christmas arrived early this year. Photo by Gary Logsdon.

4. Shooting too soon.

If you shoot the first deer you see, many times you won’t see the big one that was just behind it.

5. Trying to force a shot.

Because you may be able to place your arrow accurately is no excuse to attempt a low-percentage shot. Remember that a deer can and will get out of the way of your arrow. Wait for a high percentage angle, i.e. broadside or quartering away, if at all possible.

6. Scouting at the wrong time.

Learn when the deer are the least active and scout then. Since I don’t like to hunt in the rain, I will use this time to scout. Most scouting should be done before the hunt.
Deer movement is governed by their belly most of the year. When you scout, start with food sources and work from there. Just be sure you’re aware of seasonal foods and food sources, and how quickly the deer will move from one to another..

7. Scouting without a plan.

Scouting is NOT walking around in woods looking for deer tracks. My favorite tactic is to look for food sources, being careful to stay clear of bedding areas. Once a hot spot has been located, I use a compass to note different stand sites for various wind directions.

8. Routine hunting.

Deer will pattern YOU! Break up your routine. Have many more than one or two stands ready, so none are overworked and smelled-up and all remain fresh. Stay on stand longer, sleep in, arrive at your stand when you would normally be leaving.

9. Over-hunting.

As hard as it may be, don’t hunt the same stand over and over because it seems to be “hot”. I have seen many good stands turn cold because of over-hunting. There is too much human scent, too much activity.

There’s another form of over-hunting too. This is the burn-out type you may encounter if you hunt day after day early in the season when your enthusiasm is high. I’ve seen bowhunters run out of gas, so to speak, before the best hunting - the rut - begins. They have lost enthusiasm, used up all their vacation time, or been gone from home so much that they’ve had to re-establish cordial relations with their family.

10. Broadheads not sharp.

I mean sharp even after you have hunted a couple of days without shooting them. Check those edges constantly. Weathering and accidental contact with brush can wear them. Just because they’re covered by a quiver hood doesn’t guarantee continued sharpness.