Bow Hunting Dos and Don’ts

There are many factors that can spoil a good hunting trip, and most of them you can’t control. Therefore, when you know there are things you DO have control over, make your best effort to do so. I’m referring primarily to what you decide to wear. It can make or break a successful trip into the woods. Let’s take a look at some of the best advice on choosing your hunting apparel.

Hide Your Scent!

This has been driving hunters crazy for years. Why? Deer smell better than dogs, and dogs are amazing sniffers. A deer can smell what you’ve touched, but also can smell the wind that has blown past you, so you want to try to “hunt the wind” or stay downwind from the deer.

To do this, the wind will blow in your face as you move. It may also blow past you, but as you move, it shouldn’t be blowing on your back, because it would be blowing the scent to where you are headed, scaring the deer away.

There are also other ways to hide your scent. The harder you work at this, the more it will pay off. First of all, wash absolutely everything with unscented soaps, including yourself. Then use an unscented deodorant. Many will wash their clothes, wash a container, put an extra set of scent-free clothing in a container, and then change when they get there.

Wash your gear, your backpacks, your boots, everything. Even after doing this, almost every hunter uses a scent-masking spray, or odor eliminator. Some say they don’t work, but most hunters swear by these sprays. On a hot day, respray once or twice.

Also, try your best not to sweat as you hunt. Sweat stinks! This means you might have to move very slowly on hot days. It also means you shouldn’t overdress.You could also have your location researched and found ahead of time so that you can go straight there.

For your footwear, they do make hunting boots that work better than others at blocking your scent in the woods. In general, rubber boots provide a good barrier. You can, however, spray them with deodorizer as well.

Be Silent!

As good as their sense of smell is, an animal’s sense of hearing is almost as good. You go to open a bag of Doritos from your tree stand, and you’re going to scare everything away within a mile radius.

Your clothing is no exception. A good suggestion is to try it at home. Put on your hunting clothes and try to sneak up on someone, or better yet, your dog. Often, you might go for something that is waterproof or windproof, but these can be the noisiest materials. If you need warmth, go for fleece or wool. Check your boots for squeaks. Check the material of your pants to see if your thighs rub. Avoid corduroy for this reason.

Another way to make noise in the woods is by opening your bags and packs to get needed supplies. Check ahead that your zippers, snaps, buttons, or other fasteners don’t make any noise. So, obviously, don’t bring Velcro!

Less is More!

Find thinner fabrics that are warm if you need warmth. Dressing in padded, bulky clothing is going to make you struggle to move swiftly when you spot your game. With bow hunting especially, you need to be able to pull back your arrow, balance your bow, and have good posture. You have to move quickly and quietly.

Extra clothing can restrict and endanger you. You definitely don’t want to wear something that will get caught on your equipment.

It’s not safe, it makes noise, it could break some equipment, and it’s uncomfortable. It could also get caught on trees and shrubs. There are times you’ll want to dress in layers, but be sure the layers are thin.

This is another instance when practicing at home will pay off. Put on what you plan to wear. Then use a target to see how fast and effectively you can get your bow, draw back, and shoot something. Does your clothing slow you down for any reason? If so, try to scale it down. You also don’t want to have on so much that you sweat or make noise taking it off when you get hot. Remember: noises and smells equal failure when you’re hunting.

To Camouflage or Not to Camouflage

Most people who think of hunters, picture them in camouflage clothing. In fact, they’re a pretty big seller these days.

However, many argue that they are a waste of money, especially if you sit up in a tree stand. One recommendation is to just wear a flannel or any comfortable shirt. Another is to match the trunk or ground by just wearing dark colors like brown and black.

Turkey hunting goes better with camouflage, however. Also, while hunting white tails, most hunters recommend covering your entire body, even your face and hands, so they wear camouflage gloves and face masks, in addition to the pants, hats, shirts, jackets, etc. Deer are color blind, so make your own decision about color.

Anything Else?

So there are a lot of factors to think about when you’re deciding what to wear bow hunting. As discussed, you’re dressing to stay comfortable, quiet, and scent-free, but there are just a few other factors to take into consideration.

One of which is light. If you are heading into the dark, be sure you aren’t wearing glow-in-the dark clothing. If you’re uncomfortable moving through the woods without light, you can choose to take that risk, but light will likely scare animals away.

Another thing to think about is your choice of footwear. Are you going to be sitting most of the time or moving stealthily through the woods? Is it cold or hot? If it’s cold, one suggestion is to put hand warmers in your shoes or boots. If you don’t need heavy, uncomfortable, loud boots, consider wearing something more comfortable, especially if you walk on the ground to hunt.

To sum it up, don’t make noises or smells. Some materials are different when they get cold or hot, so be sure to try things out for all reasons before wearing them on a hunting trip. Consider a chest protector and arm guard if you need them.

Most of all, you know what works best for you, or perhaps this advice has given you some things to think about. Above all, be safe. Wear bright gear if other hunters will be near.

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