We receive questions each year from our hunters about our bow setup recommendations for a trophy whitetail hunt. As archery hunters know, there are an endless number of variables when it comes to bow setup. However, we like to keep it very simple: shoot what you’re comfortable with. In fact, we place much more emphasis on shot placement than anything to do with bow setup.
Our guides see a lot of deer hit the ground each year, and we’ve certainly seen some things that work better than others when it comes to setup. For example, we like to say around here, “come set up for bear, not for mice.” Meaning, we like setups that use heavy arrows. Lightweight, dart-like arrows have become popular among many hunters. But we like to remind people that these Illinois whitetail deer are tough big game animals.
Beyond using an adequately heavy arrow, there’s not much we typically recommend to our hunters, other than to shoot a system that you’re comfortable with and that you know well. Shoot the style of sight, rest, and arrow that makes you feel most confident. Because in the end, your shot placement is far more important than any other variable.
When it comes to shot placement, our number one rule is this: stay away from the shoulder blade! Many hunters feel like they have to thread the needle and put the arrow right behind the shoulder. But in our experience, shots placed square in the body have a ten-times higher recovery rate than shoulder shots.
We also stress that hunters avoid taking unethical shots. We believe that any shot over 50 yards is unethical. Per our wounded game policy, if a hunter takes a shot over 50 yards and that animal is not recovered, the hunt is considered complete. Out of respect for our deer, this also applies to shots in the neck or the rear.
Besides aiming square in the body, we believe hunters should come tuned for all angles and situations. If you’re shooting a 10-yard shot from 20 feet in a tree stand, that steep angle must be accounted for. Many hunters spend time practicing at distances of 50, 60 and 70 yards. Practice at these distances certainly does have value in your training. But don’t forget to practice other, more likely situations. Most of our deer are killed within 30 yards. We recommend practicing at these shorter distances from different positions and angles. Also, be sure to practice while wearing your hunting clothing. Practice drawing silently. Do everything you can to imitate that moment of truth on a trophy whitetail buck.
The 2014 archery season is almost here and we’re looking forward to seeing many of you here at Hadley Creek Outfitters soon! If you have any questions, please give us a call at (217) 335-3804.