Best Rangefinders for Bow Season

Best Rangefinders for Bow Season

To be honest, I had mentally checked out for the morning and was just going through the motions of putting one foot in front of the other to get back to the truck. It was just by pure chance that I spotted the silhouetted muley buck before he picked me off. I dropped to the ground and risked a sharp whistle at my hunting partner, who was behind me on the trail and walking as obliviously as I was.

It looked like a slight depression leading to a clump of sagebrush might cover my movements, so I started pushing my bow forward as I slid along the ground. Since the buck was within 200 yards when I spotted him feeding, it didn't take long until I was able to lift my head enough to see clearly that he was within range.


I jettisoned my backpack and ranged the buck at 51 yards. He needed to take a step forward to clear his vitals from the cedars. That's when movement to my left caught my attention and I realized that a larger buck was part of the scene, something that I'd missed completely due to my tunnel vision. I guessed the buck at 30 yards, but knew better. Being a born-and-raised Midwesterner, my yardage estimation suffers greatly in mule deer country, and I'd made that mistake before.



I eased my rangefinder out of my pocket and realized there was too much brush in front of the 4x4 to get a good reading, so I checked the distance of the likeliest shooting lane. What I figured was maybe 30 yards ended up being 38, and when the buck walked through the opening I was ready and he never made it out of sight.

Derivations of this situation play out for Western hunters each season, and they prove time and time again that a quality rangefinder is one of the most important pieces of gear you can carry. However, that doesn't mean rangefinders are only valuable in mule deer and elk territory. Whitetail hunters would do well to carry a laser rangefinder on every hunt. Some argue that their average shot distances are so close that a rangefinder is unnecessary, and if you're honest enough to stick to truly close shots, that's fine.


However, what if you've shot enough to be extremely confident out to 40 or 50 yards and then a shot situation occurs? Many pass; some don't. If there is a chance of your giving in and shooting, the only ethical situation is to know the exact range. I've gotten to the point where unless it's a pointblank shot, I almost always try to get an exact reading on any animal I intend to shoot. Although this can be unnecessary, there is nothing better for shooting confidence than knowing without a doubt how to aim based on a known distance.


A rangefinder belongs in every self-respecting bowhunter's pack, but it won't earn its whole value in the fall hunting season alone. In fact, one of the best benefits of rangefinders is through their off-season uses. Carrying a laser rangefinder with you when you target practice allows for quality target shooting at all distances, not just 10-yard increments. Knowing how to aim through gapping or holding specific pins high or low is crucial to in-the-field success, and the best way to gain that knowledge is to spend a lot of time target shooting at all distances.

This also builds in a process for the shot that can alleviate panic when a bruiser buck steps out into the soybean field at last light. Instead of quickly loosing an arrow on a guess and a prayer, you can carefully range his exact distance, and then immediately start to think about what you need to do to make the shot — just as you've practiced all summer long.

Following are the newest rangefinders on the market that are sure to help you quit guessing and start killing.

Recommended for You

How-To

10 Workout Routines Every Bowhunter Should Master

Adam Holt

As a bowhunter, you need complete faith in your physical ability to hike in to your hunting...

ATA Show

Best New Binoculars for Bowhunters in 2019

Brian Strickland - January 11, 2019

Check out our list of the best new-for-2019 optics from the ATA Show!

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Elk Bulls Abound in Colorado

Bowhunter team member Rudy Bachraty gets his chance to take an elk with Cross Mountain Outfitters of Colorado.

2018 Bowhunter TV Episode 13: The Call of Cross Mountain

Team Bowhunter makes its annual pilgrimage to the elk-rich high country of Colorado's Cross Mountain Ranch.

Daybreak Whitetail Bowhunt

Bowhunter TV Editor Derek Mleynek has a chance to fill his buck tag on a mixed bag hunt in Texas.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

Recipes

Vietnamese Black Bear Pâté Chaud (Meat Pie) Recipe

Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley

Black bear meat is dark and rich, and delicious ground up in this Pâté chaud recipe.

How-To

Summer Scouting from Scratch

Tony J. Peterson

New year, new look at your whitetail ground

Bows

9 Top Budget Bows for 2018

Tony J. Peterson - February 20, 2018

This past fall my twin daughters started kindergarten, which meant that I stopped paying for

See More Stories

More Bow Accessories

ATA Show

6 New Archery Release Aids to Consider for 2019

Colton Bailey - January 11, 2019

Check out our roundup of the best new release aids from the 2019 ATA Show!

ATA Show

5 New Arrow Rests for 2019

Colton Bailey - January 11, 2019

From full-containment to drop-away designs, we've covered the best arrow rests from the 2019...

Bow Accessories

Custom Strings Increase Bow Performance and Accuracy

Mike Carney - July 29, 2016

There are many reasons why bowhunters go the route of custom string sets, but three are

See More Bow Accessories

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

×