WHEN YOU’RE SHOOTING a bow from a tree stand, closer isn’t always better. Not only do you have a greater risk of spooking a deer when you set up right on a trail, but the steep downward angle can compromise your form. “Your ideal shot is 20 yards, but the closest you should ever shoot a deer is 10 yards. If it’s closer than that, you shouldn’t even draw back,” says Jay Moore, a personal hunting guide and wildlife manager.

[1] KNOW YOUR DISTANCE: Pace off or use a rangefinder to locate 10-, 20-, and 30-yard distances from the base of your tree stand in all your likely shooting lanes. “Mark them with something that looks natural, but that will stick out to you in the stand,” says Moore.

[2] MAINTAIN YOUR FORM: “You don’t want to screw up the muscle memory that you developed over the off-season through shooting practice by moving your shoulders to aim,” says Moore. For a standing shot, bend at your waist to get your pin on the deer. This will keep you from changing your anchor point or dropping your bow arm.

[3] FOCUS AND RELEASE: “If you aim small, you’ll miss small,” says Moore. Imagine you’re shooting at a dime in the small area behind the shoulder. “Once you’re comfortable, take the shot. The longer you hold, the more your mind starts playing tricks.”

Jay Moore, Millbrook, N.Y.
Moore, 35, a two-time Total Outdoorsman finalist, finished in second place overall in 2006 and won the archery competition in the 2007 finals.