Four Mistakes to Avoid When a Buck Approaches Your Stand

THE WHITETAIL THAT'S APPROACHING YOUR STAND has Pope and Young record book written all over it. All you need now is a good, clear shot--and a way to avoid the fistful of blunders bowhunters are prone to make at these critical moments.

Here are the four most common gaffes, and how you can keep them from spoiling your hunt:

[1] GRUNTING TOO SOON

Yes, a grunt call can be effective at bringing deer closer, so it's tempting to use it the instant a buck shows. But hold off. There's no reason to draw attention to yourself if a buck is already coming to you. Even if the buck pauses, don't call unless he starts off in the wrong direction or wags his head and neck back and forth, which often precedes a change in course.

[2] DRAWING AT THE WRONG TIME

There are two essential parts to solving this problem. First, you need to anticipate obstructions that will shield you from a buck's line of sight, and draw when he's behind one. Second, you need to (a) draw sooner when a buck is moving quickly and (b) take your time when he's taking his. You can improve both skills dramatically by drawing on every deer that walks under your stand, whether you intend to kill it or not.

[3] MISCALCULATING THE RANGE

This miscue happens far more often than it should. Don't complicate a great opportunity by trying to guess how far away your buck is. Get it right ahead of time by planting yardage stakes or by scanning key landmarks with an electronic rangefinder. If you choose the latter method, take extra care to avoid false readings from stray twigs or grass.

[4] POOR SHOT PLACEMENT

There may be no worse feeling in all of bowhunting than the nauseating regret that comes from making a bad shot on a trophy animal. To avoid it, carefully monitor a buck's body angle as he approaches, and wait for a double-lung shot. As you take aim, consider where your arrow must exit to pierce both lungs. Presumably, you've done everything else right if you've gotten this far. So don't forget this last crucial step.