I started hunting several years ago but this is my first season toting a bow into the woods. The transition hasn’t always been smooth.
I purchased my compound from a local archery shop just as last year’s general season drew to a close. I figured I would have plenty of time to learn the ins and outs of my new hunting tool and gather as much advice as possible before chasing game with a bow in hand.
My marksmanship improved with regular trips to the shooting range and I got Big Brother’s approval to buy a bowhunting license after completion of a bowhunter’s safety course. But that didn’t stop me from messing up two of my early chances at bagging a big game animal because of rookie mistakes.
A couple weeks into the season I was hiking along a logging road when I felt the call of nature. I found a suitably private location off the beaten path and began digging a cathole. Just before I was about to drop trou a raghorn bull entered a clearing not 50 yards away from me.
The young elk even had the audacity to present himself broadside. He gave me just enough time to reach my gear and nock an arrow before he traipsed back into the thick timber.
Lesson: check your surroundings before compromising your position and always keep your weapon handy.
The following week I was hunting a north central Montana butte with a friend from my college days in Missoula. We spied a group of mule deer on private land we scored permission to hunt and left the truck for a steep climb to the ridge where two mature bucks lay with several does.
I’m still hiking my way into hunting shape and I was pulling some serious wind my the time we got in position for a final stalk. My hunting partner and I stopped just below the top of the ridge to catch our breath and prepare for the moment of truth.
That’s when I realized I left my release in my bow case. I got caught up in the heat of the moment and had to pass the shot off to my buddy. Unfortunately he didn’t get a shot either as a second group of does charged over the hill spooking the animals we were stalking.
Lesson: check all vital equipment before leaving the truck. I also might purchase a second release to keep in my pack or begin buckling the one I have now to my bow.
There’s still plenty of hunting left to do this year and I’m sure of two things. These will not be the last of my boneheaded mistakes and I’m not going to repeat them.
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