Hunting with a crossbow begins with choosing the best crossbow you can afford. While reading crossbow reviews can help you to get a better idea of which models earned a high rating with the pros, ultimately, you’ll need to choose a bow that works with your stature, hunting style, and skill level.
But once you find the perfect bow, then what? Most beginners don’t know where to start, how to aim, what type of accessories to use, or how to hunt certain types of game. Because of this, we’ve created these crossbow hunting tips to help you get a jump on this exciting sport. Even the seasoned bowhunter will find many of these crossbow tips useful.
Here are some popular crossbow hunting tips and tricks for beginners that will help you to better understand how crossbows work, what features to look for, and how to become a better bowhunter. These crossbow hunting tips for deer can also be applied when hunting other types of medium game including turkey. All that will really change is how you set up and where you’ll hunt.
Finding the Perfect Crossbow for Deer Hunting
When you’re shopping for your first bow, remember that price often reflects quality. Make sure you choose a bow manufacturer that offers a great warranty and one that has a long-standing rep for providing top of the line customer service. Additionally, you should go for a bow that’s considered beginner-friendly, such as the Excalibur Bulldog 400. Ease of use will be important but don’t think just because a bow is easy to use that it’s not top quality.
Before you buy a crossbow, learn about local game laws to find out the maximum and minimum required draw weight for bowhunting. This can help you to determine the type of draw weight range to look for.
Arrows come in a variety of weights. We recommend choosing a heavier arrow in the three hundred up to three hundred and fifty-grain range. Heavier arrows will provide added downrange energy, which will result in better penetration. Make sure you look at the included user’s manual that comes with your bow to find out what arrow weight the manufacturer recommends.
Both expandable and fixed-blade broadheads can work well for medium-sized game. Regardless of the style of broadhead you end up choosing, make sure you practice with the broadheads and arrows you plan to hunt with because hunting broadheads seldom shoot at the same point of impact as field points. Many companies that produce broadheads will include a practice head, which is an acceptable substitute.
Most high-end crossbows will come with a pre-sighted, attached scope that’s specifically made for bows. However, crossbow scope adjustment is necessary in order to ensure shot accuracy.
Crossbow Shooting Tips
When it comes to shooting a crossbow, there really aren’t any shortcuts to learning how to perfect your shots. But a strong knowledge of marksmanship and archery principles can help you to get the most out of your bow under any type of conditions you may face out in the woods.
Once you finally have your crossbow’s scope correctly adjusted, you’re now ready to test your skills by shooting at 3D targets. Because it’s incredibly difficult to pick a small spot on a large body, you need to practice on lifelike targets. Additionally, we also recommend researching the anatomy of the animal you’ll be hunting. This way, during practice you’ll be able to look at the bolt impact and determine if you hit the liver, lungs, heart, etc. The vital zone on the turkey is minuscule and only about the size of a tennis ball. This means the margin of error is very high. Even subtle changes in the bird’s posture can spell the difference between a filled tag and a wounded bird.
Trigger pull is very critical when it comes to consistent arrow flight. A gentle, slow squeeze on the trigger will prevent you from pulling the crossbow off target when an arrow is released. Use the center of the pad on your index finger for best consistency.
If you plan on wearing several layers of warm clothes when you go hunting, then you should wear the same gear when you’re practicing. The loss of mobility and the extra bulk that comes with wearing several layers can end up drastically impairing arrow delivery and your shot. Instead of just winging it, you should know exactly how the scope lines up from your shoulder while you’re wearing these extra layers and whether or not you’re able to quickly find the reticle on the scope. It’s also important to determine if you’re able to squeeze the trigger when wearing gloves.
It can be pretty frustrating to have one the crossbow’s limbs make contact with something and blind setups and tree stands are often to blame for spoiling a hunt simply because the hunter failed to run through their shot beforehand. If you’re going to be shooting out of a blind during a hunt, then you need to practice shooting out of a blind. Try out a variety of angles in order to confirm how much clearance is needed when you squeeze that trigger. This also applies to tree stands.
Crossbow Deer Hunting Tips
- Deer are easily alerted to humans as they walk through noisy leaves. Try using quick steps in shorter sprints of just ten yards or so. Stop walking, then repeat. Your footfalls should be kept as light as possible. This change in stride will give any nearby deer the impression that only small wildlife is in the area.
- Do your best to anticipate where the deer will be once you’ve completed your stalk. Before you start, watch the deer long enough to determine its rate of travel and direction, and whether it’s walking or actively feeding.
- The crossbow isn’t the equivalent of a rifle. So, the distance of a shot isn’t just dependent on the shooter’s ability, but also on the type of broadhead and arrow used. When the arrow is traveling downrange, it’s losing both energy and speed. If you shoot too far you may end up with a wounded animal.
- Typically, forty to fifty yards is the max range you should be shooting at turkeys, deer, or other game. Anything further and you’re not looking at a kill shot.