By Russell Thornberry
One nice thing about so much whitetail hunting on television these days is that you can watch others make a mistake, figure out why, and avoid making it yourself.
One of the most common mistakes I see on televised hunts is the noise hunters make trying to get a deer to stop walking so they can take a shot at it standing still. This, of course, applies mostly to bowhunting.
It is a great mistake to aim at a spot on a walking buck and expect to hit it. Even at close range with the fastest arrows, that buck will move forward to some degree and the arrow will hit behind the original target point. How many times does the bowhunter on TV end up saying, “Well, I hit him a little farther back than intended?”
A lot, right?
Then there is the problem of trying to lead a walking deer. If it keeps walking when the arrow is released, you might make a perfect shot, but as often as not, the sound of the string snap will stop it and you might shoot too far forward or miss it completely.
Shooting at moving targets with a bow is simply bad business. So, we can agree that we need to stop the buck for the sake of shooting at a standing target. It seems that most hunters try to stop walking bucks by making a grunting or bleating sound with their mouths. This technique will either work or frighten the buck away instantly. It also could alert the deer to your position in the treestand, making it impossible to take a shot.
While there are no absolutes in the art of stopping walking deer, there are some things you can do to help your chances. First, consider range. A buck will respond with much more alarm to an unexpected noise at 20 yards or less than it will at ranges beyond 20 yards. I suggest that, rather than making a grunting or bleating sound at a walking buck at 20 yards or less, you make a subtle clicking noise with your tongue. This clicking noise is less likely to spook the buck than a grunt or a bleat at close range. If it doesn’t stop, try a louder click. If that doesn’t work, then try a grunt or bleat.
If the buck is 20 or more yards distant, try a loud click first, and follow with a grunt or bleat if that doesn’t work. In either case, it is better to try and stop it with the subtlest sound possible to keep from scaring it off.
The buck’s body language will often dictate what is needed. If it’s walking cautiously and appears to be on alert, the softer and more subtle the sound, the better. If it is trailing a doe or moving quickly, a louder sound might be required to get its attention. Keep these things in mind when you need to stop a walking buck and when you watch bowhunters on TV.
This article was published in the August 2005 edition of Buckmasters Whitetail Magazine. Join today to have Buckmasters delivered to your home.