Tag Soup: What Went Wrong?

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Unpunched Whitetail Tag?  Here's Why You Failed.

The consistently-unsuccessful whitetail hunter insists it's all luck, continuing to commit the same mistakes repeatedly despite lackluster results. The regularly-successful whitetail hunter learns from his mistakes, turning failure into success.

Here's some common mistakes and how to avoid them:

Missed The Big Shot: Nothing's more frustrating then finally receiving a season-making shot only to miss. Better shooting skills are an obvious answer, but how? Perhaps it's time to admit you need help. Hire a shooting coach to sort out bad shooting habits and/or form -- especially to cure debilitating target panic inflamed by the phenomenon known as buck fever. Have a professional inspect your equipment, ensuring it's tuned perfectly, promoting clean flight with broadheads.

Blew Opportunities Before The Shot: Bad shot timing, noisy clothing, creaking stands and other such annoyances likely foil more whitetail encounters than anything else. To begin, throw out any hunting duds that rustle, crackle or pop -- no matter how warm, comfortable or costly they are. Oil contact points on stands, spot-weld creak points or retire those noisy stands to the practice range. Finally, be more conscious of shot timing; drawing your bow well ahead of time (that's what 80% let-off is all about), only when a deer's head is behind an obstruction, or allowing deer to pass, their attention directed forward and a quartering shot presented.

Saw Few If Any Deer: You can't kill deer you don't see. If you've been bowhunting the same tired stand sites year after year, or even the same property with little to show for your efforts, maybe it's time for change. Seek fresh hunting ground, even if that means investigating public lands. If this is impossible, at least investigate new corners of available property and employ new stand sites where deer haven't been hunted before. You should never remain satisfied a stand is in the best place possible, always seek better options.  

Practiced Poor Scent Control: Lack of deer sightings might also mean you're leaving scent behind while hanging stands, checking cameras or coming and going between hunts. Make more effort to keep hunting clothes and boots completely free of offensive odors, laundering them in scent-free detergents and storing in scent-free plastic tubs. Put them on just before entering your stand and take them off immediately after. Use scent-killer sprays liberally -- they work. Use a minimalist approach when cutting shooting lanes and trimming stand sites so as not to alert savvy bucks.  

Stand Placed Perfectly But Hunted Wrong Winds: I've got one steadfast rule while bowhunting whitetail: Never but never hunt a stand unless wind is ideal. Let a trophy buck bust you on a stand one time due to unfavorable winds and it's game over for that site. You might as well pull that stand and start over. It's simply easier to wait for the right wind. If the wind isn't perfect for a particular site, sit somewhere else. Period. When a stand site allows (like ridges or points) I often set two stands, opposite each other, to allow sitting the place on opposing winds.