Making a clean and ethical harvest out in the field when hunting deer with a crossbow will require that you practice a foolproof protocol for targeting at close range. Any small change could influence the results of your hunting trip, and you could either come home successful with a great catch or shamed due to being empty handed. Before heading out to bag your biggest buck ever, you need to know how to hunt deer with a crossbow.
Practice using your crossbow on a target before actually heading out
This will help you know the range you are comfortable with. Practice using several ranges, from 30, 40 to 50 yards or more so you can feel really comfortable making a shot. When you do get to the field and know what range you’re comfortable with, it’s important to mark that range so when the deer comes out, you are confident you can knock it down.
Wind direction, as well as camouflage, is extremely vital
Deer hunting is a stealth activity. Whenever possible, the wind should be in your face. Hunting downwind gives away your presence easily. It is sensible to have various places and stands to hunt so you can make sure the wind is always in your face.
To ensure that you do not stick out in the hunting environment, do wear camouflage clothing. This will enable you to blend yourself as much as possible into the environment. Your face and hands should also be covered.
Be quiet and scentless
Movement and sound can give your presence away. Do not move around too much while waiting for the prey to show up, or just make sure any movements are executed slowly. Be as perfectly quiet as possible. None of your gear should rattle or create noise. As the deer moves into your area, take the safety off the crossbow slowly and quietly so as not to startle the prey away with a loud clicking sound.
Scent control is also essential. Your hunting clothes shouldn’t carry a strong scent, preferably laundered in scent-blocking detergent or ordinary baking soda and then hung to dry outside.
Refrain from chewing or smoking while in the hunting stand, but if these can’t be helped, do not throw or spit your cigarette butts on the ground. Put the trash in a receptacle and never leave trash lying around after hunting.
Lure the deer in using proper deer attractants, so the prey will focus on that smell and not on yours.
Avoid brushing up against branches and leaves on the way to the stand. Instead, use the crossbow to push aside any branches.
Being out in the field is a lot different from shooting at a target
Try going after a good mature doe before trying to knock down a big master buck.
Be in the stand at least an hour early, preferably even before the sun rises to allow the woods to settle back down. Hunting in the evening requires that you go ahead of the normal time the deer moves, so the area can also settle down.
When you sight your deer, make sure the line of vision of the prey is obstructed by a bush or tree, or that its head is turned away from you. Raise your bow, making sure the deer doesn’t see your movement. Keep in mind that the whitetail species will try to see if they can detect any movement by surprise. Just keep immobile and do not look whitetails in the eye. Keep a steady stare and do not move your eyes. Look to the side of the deer’s face and not directly at the eyes. Breathe deeply and calm yourself down.
Take the kill shot
After making sure you are calm enough to take a sure, slow and steady shot, wait until the deer moves into a kill shot position. Do not take spine or brain shots. Aim instead to execute a center lung shot. Follow the back line of the front leg from broadside up to the center of the chest, then drop down a bit to obtain the perfect shot. Should the deer be at an angle, just visualize where its lungs are and aim for the center of this specific mass. When hunting from a treestand, this is the spot just behind the deer’s shoulders and right at the center of the body. This spot will ensure that you hit the heart, lungs or spine, delivering a one-shot kill.
Do keep in mind that if the deer does not move into the kill shot position or for you to take a kill shot, you should never attempt to shoot.
You’d be better off going home empty-handed than just wounding a deer superficially without killing it.
A lost or wounded big game animal is something that a serious hunter cannot easily live down.