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Long Range Bowhunting

Long Range Bowhunting

By Lorenzo Young

The waiting is the hard part for me. Always has been. Yet, I knew I had to move slowly. Painstakingly I examined the steep hillside again. I stood in the shadows of a small band of dark pines. I was on a narrow ridge in a high crisp alpine basin. The setting sun was pushing long cool shadows across the clearing ahead. I eased forward another foot, and waited while my hair turned grey.

I was sure the deer were close. Iíd watched the deer fade into the little clump of pines several times. I figured they were here now. Bringing my binoculars up I searched the shadows again. A slight sound brought my attention to a small rock trickling downhill. Retracing the flight of the rock, I saw a deer stand and begin to feed. The deer was on the other side of the small clearing, quartering steeply away.

I waited anxiously as the deer fed for a glimpse of his antlers. A long, quiet minute passed before the deer looked down the canyon, exposing deep velvet covered tines. Deciding Iíd seen enough, I brought up my rangefinder. Seventy eight yards the rangefinder said, with a corrected yardage of seventy four and a half for the incline. Carefully, I shifted my feet for a solid stance.

Finding my anchor, I took a couple of slow deep breaths. As the pin settled, I checked my cant and my grip. Just like practice, I told myself. Focusing on a smooth release, I was pleased when the shot broke. Perfect! As the arrow arched high, the deer looked my way. For a brief moment the blue fletching flashed brightly as it slipped through his rust ní tan hide. Beautiful shot! I found him on the other side of a low ridge. Heíd gone fifty, sixty yards. Once again, I was impressed with the efficiency of a bow.

Seventy-eight yards! I can see the frowns and furrowed brows. It used to be such a shot was a risky thing. Today, we have the equipment to make such ranges comfortable. Letís take a look at what went into making this shot. Letís look at the gear, the skill, and the considerations, unique to long range bowhunting. Then, letís take a peak at how friends of mine are stretching their limits to ranges you wonít believe.

Shooting longer ranges requires some special equipment. It also requires we choose our gear to meet certain requirements. Iíll outline what I look for in a bow. Then, discuss how I choose the accessories to help the bow perform. Finally, weíll look at rangefinders, a critical piece of gear.

For our purpose, we need a bow thatís accurate, fast, and quiet. I also want what I consider to be a friendly bow. Letís start with a quality piece of equipment. Chances are we wonít get the job done with a low priced package ďdealĒ.

When choosing an accurate bow, I start with feel every time. I want a bow that feels natural! I want it to become an extension of my arm. Draw length is critical. I get a bow as close as I can, than experiment with an adjustable length release aid. I also want a comfortable grip, and forgiving brace height. A bow with these qualities is a recipe for accuracy.

While I consider speed secondary to accuracy, it is our next limiting factor. Simply put, we need to choose one of the faster bows. Mathews Drenalin, PSE X Force, and Hoytís Vectrix are good examples.

One of the most common arguments against long range bowhunting is animals have plenty of time to jump the string. Or, move out of the way of the arrow before it arrives, resulting in a poor hit. My personal experience has been animals at close ranges react violently to the sound of the shot. Animals past about forty yards react much less. While animals at long range often simply look up. I am convinced a quiet bow alarms animals much less.

Finally, I want a friendly bow. I shoot a Mathews Switchback. The bow has a comfortable grip, smooth draw, and a solid back wall. The bow also has a forgiving brace height. This helps mute minor shooting flaws. The bow is also very quiet, with little shock transferred to my hand. It is also an easy bow to tune. In short, it is extremely comfortable, easy to set up, and easy to shoot. Like a fine woman, this bowís a pleasure to handle!

Bow Accessories
  • String stretch is like a rash that wonít go away. Make sure your bow has a quality string. Winners Choice has a well earned reputation.
  • Get a quality rest. I like a drop away. Theyíre easy to tune, and eliminate vane clearance issues. Bottom line, it needs to be consistent and durable.
  • I like a quiver attached to my bow, and practice with the quiver attached. Make sure your quiver attaches solidly, and doesnít rattle, make noise, or work loose.
  • I have found a wrist strap helps shoot with a relaxed hand. Once you learn to trust the strap, it helps overcome the desire to grab your bow, and torque the shot.
  • I like a stabilizer to just make the bow tip forward at the shot. I use a short one because I often have my bow in a scabbard. Try a few, pick what you like.
  • We need quality sights. I shoot a seven pin by Montana Black Gold. Because I donít use a thirty yard pin, this sight gets me to ninety yards. Consider using finer pins for the bottom ones. Another good option is an adjustable sight. You dial these sights up and down for different yardages, much like a rifle scope. Sights also need a bubble level, to correct for cant.
  • Thin arrow shafts and short tight fletching helps minimize wind drift, and tighten long range groups. Shooting Gold Tip XTís, I havenít experimented much in this area. One point I can make is, aluminum is for beer cans.
  • I prefer smaller blade broadheads because they plane less in the wind. I like the stainless Innerlocks, Wac emís, and Montec G5ís. Again, this is no place to scrimp. Buy good ones, and lock tite Ďem in.
  • While some folks may be accurate enough with fingers, I use a release aid. I use a Cobra wrist strap release because it has a threaded rod in it. This rod provides the release with a lot of adjustment. The rod also makes the release rigid, so the trigger is under my finger when I need to clip in.

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