March 16, 2011
Outfitter Doug Miller poses with me and my antelope. Doug and I were both surprised that I scored within a couple of hours of hunting, because it rained during the night and was still drizzling as we drove to the blind.
I was the cameraman, and Publisher Jeff Waring was doing the shooting. We sat motionless while peering through the oblong hole in our Double Bull blind. It was so quiet you could hear a pin drop from 20 yards -- if we made the slightest sound, these Texas whitetails would spook, and they would avoid our hunt area.
I looked at Jeff, slowly pointed, and spread two fingers, alerting him two deer were coming in from our left. A slight nod of his head acknowledged their presence. The targeted doe turned broadside, and as he grasped his bow and slowly came to full draw, I whispered, "Aim low."
The doe stepped around and quartered toward us. Jeff continued to hold at full draw, but when seconds melted into minutes and he still didn't have a good shot angle, he mustered some muscle, gritted his teeth, eased the string pressure, and controlled the bow as it lurched down.
A few minutes later, the angle was perfect, so he yarded his bowstring to his face.
"Aim low," I coached again, but before he could squeeze his release trigger, a buck entered our feed area and pushed the does out of sight. He let down again.
Another 10 minutes passed before the does stepped back into our view; a few minutes later, they were standing broadside. Jeff drew, anchored, and squeezed his release trigger. His arrow zipped through the doe -- she spun right and dashed out of sight on a dead run.
"I can't believe it -- I hit her high," he blurted out in disbelief.
"Did you aim low?" I questioned.
"Yes, and I took my time."
We reviewed the footage and, indeed, he had hit the doe just under the spine. After reviewing it again using the camera's slow-mo function, we saw that the doe had dropped just before the arrow struck. It was only 14 yards, so it's hard to imagine that deer can hear the bow come down, react to the sound, and drop 10 inches before the arrow strikes -- but they can.
Videotaping kills and being able to watch video footage frame by frame has taught me that almost every animal will move before the arrow reaches them. And it doesn't matter if you shoot a stickbow or a compound -- it happens.
Continued -- click on page link below.
Last September, on a Wyoming antelope hunt, Contributor Jeff Frey taped me shooting my antelope. I had made a perfect 17-yard shot, and my arrow hit the sweet spot. Once again, the frame-by-frame review revealed the buck had dropped around 10 inches, so if he had not reacted to the sound of my bow coming down, my arrow would have flown just under his chest. Although I had aimed low in the cavity, I shot low, but, fortunately, it worked out perfectly.
The next day, I videotaped Jeff Frey as he hunted for an antelope buck. Shortly after noon, a Pope & Young class buck came to the water, and Jeff gave me the nod. He made an excellent shot with his Hoyt compound and after a 70-yard run, we watched the buck crash to the ground. I never asked Jeff where he was holding his pin, but I learned after frame-by-frame review that the buck had dropped around 10 inches before Jeff's arrow penetrated the lungs, so he had to be aiming low in the chest or he would have missed.
The worst of the string jumpers are whitetails and African plains game. They are especially spooky when they come to feed on bait or drink at a waterhole. They know this is where predators will ambush them, so they come unglued at the slightest sound or movement -- legs fold, bodies drop, and they uncoil, springing up and sideways. Patience in these instances will pay big dividends. Let the animal calm down -- allow them to feed and drink for a while. You'll be able to see them relax, so once that happens, aim low and release your arrow.
Bowhunter education teaches you that the vitals lay in the lower third of the chest cavity, so when aiming at a broadside animal, you should pick a spot right behind the front leg hairline and one-third of the way up from the bottom of the animal's chest. If the animal stands still, that's the perfect aiming spot, but in reality most will move, so I believe you should aim for the heart, which lies in the bottom of the chest. An arrow that strikes two inches up from the bottom of the chest and in line with the front leg hairline will slice through the heart. If you shoot a good arrow and the animal does jump the string, you should hit the lungs; if it doesn't, your broadhead will leave a three-blade cut through its heart.
A few animals don't seem to react to the sound of a bow coming down. My experience with moose is limited, but from what I've seen, they hardly ever jump before the arrow strikes. I don't think goats and sheep are as likely to move much. I've shot and videotaped quite a few black bear, and generally speaking they are not string jumpers, but the more they are hunted, the more likely it might happen.
At times when I've missed and believed I had made a lousy shot, video review revealed that it was actually because the animal had moved. Of course there have been times when I just shot poorly and missed. Regardless, one fact remains -- if you want to increase your odds of making a quick, clean kill, make your bow shoot as quietly as possible, be patient and let the animal relax before shooting, and aim low for the heart. If you train yourself to do this, you will bag your animal, even if your targeted animal does string jump.
I hunted out of a Double Bull blind on my antelope hunt and used a Hoyt GameMaster recurve, Carbon Express Heritage 150 shafts, and Rocky Mt. Ti-125 broadheads. To hunt Wyoming antelope, contact Doug Miller at Miller Outfitting, 2080 Hannum Rd., Gillette, WY 82716; (307) 682-5815; firstname.lastname@example.org. To hunt Texas whitetails, contact Wade McCauley, PO Box 716, Sabinal, TX 78881; (210) 415-3953; email@example.com.
Jeff Millar, Jeff Fry, and I hunted antelope from Double Bull blinds. You could pop up a blind at any waterhole and hunt from it, without fear antelope would shy away. It didn't bother them at all. They walked in like the blind had been there for 100 years.