To Fill More Deer Tags, Keep Your Whitetail Bow As Simple As Possible

To Fill More Deer Tags, Keep Your Whitetail Bow As Simple As Possible

In a past life, while working as an associate editor for a bowhunting magazine, I had to call up one of our columnists to clear something up. He had written about his preferred sight choice, mentioning that it was a seven-pin model.

When I got him on the phone, he told me that he’d use a 9-pin option if he could find it. I thought, that’s at least six pins more than my brain can handle at the moment of truth. It was a revelation in how different he was as a bowhunter compared to myself.

I need dumbed-down, simple bow setups. I know this because I went through a long phase of buck-fever-induced deer disasters and have proven that I’m not immune to totally flaming out during any given shot. If I don’t have simple, I almost don’t have a chance. That might sound insane to some folks, but I think a lot of whitetail hunters would benefit from dumbing down their setups.

This almost always starts with sight choice.

One, One Little Sight Pin, Ah Ah Ah

How many pins do you need on your sight? Does it matter if your pins are vertical or horizontal? My answers to both questions are one or two, and yes. The fewer pins most of us have, the easier it is to get the right pin in the right spot. This is a tricky one though, because we rarely use the wrong pin while practicing–and if we do, it doesn’t cost us a deer.

In the field, people often use the wrong pin. It’s hard to tamp down the brain-melting adrenaline enough to hold your red pin high or your yellow pin low. It’s much easier to put your one green pin where it needs to be and let it rip.

I know a lot of folks think single-pin sights, especially single-pin movers, require just as much thought and, well, more movement. They aren’t wrong, but they aren’t totally right, either. The brain power devoted to dialing in your sight gets used up before you draw. It’s not the same as drawing and then having to count down pins or gap. This is a bigger deal than it might seem.

If that makes you too nervous, dumbing things down sight-wise might just involve going from a five-pin model to a three-pin model. Another option, which I plan to try this year, is a mover with a hybrid, vertical option where the main pin is green, but on the same stem there is a shorter, red pin. This provides a little cushion if you dial into 25 yards and the buck walks by at 32.

In either case, the fewer choices you have to make while you’re drawn, the better. In regard to the vertical versus horizontal pin question, I think almost everyone would benefit from vertical pins. You get more of the sight window to work with, and it changes how you aim (generally for the better).

As with anything, if you really don’t have a problem hitting bucks where you want, then this doesn’t matter. If you struggle to make good shots, you might want to think about how you could help yourself meltdown less.

Rest Easy, Or No?

Have you ever drawn your bow only to realize that your arrow isn’t seated in the launcher correctly? When that happens on the range, you either figure out how to get it in place or you let down and start over. No harm, no foul. When it happens on a 140-inch buck on a crisp November morning, all bets are off.

If you’re shooting with a rest that isn’t total containment, you’re likely to run into this problem at the worst of times. While static, whisker-biscuit style rests are a good option for a lot of folks, you do give up a slight something in performance with them. That probably doesn’t matter much for most whitetail setups. I’d rather go with a drop-away myself, but only if I can use one that is going to keep my arrow where it needs to be before I draw.

Here’s the thing about this issue, and any other way you can simplify your rig, you have to pay attention to the little things during practice. It’s like when you’re training a duck dog during the off-season to stay steady. If the dog creeps a little in practice, it’ll full-on break during an actual hunt when the mallards start splashing into the drink.

If you screw up occasionally with the wrong pin or poor gapping during a summertime practice session, you might screw up royally on a deer this fall in the same way. If every few times you go to the range, you get slightly annoyed because you have to let down to fix the orientation of your arrow in your rest, you will do that in a treestand, and it most likely won’t go your way.

Pay attention now to those things and remember that what might seem like barely an issue on the range during August can morph into something much more frustrating in October.

Sign In or Create a Free Account

Access the newest seasons of MeatEater, save content, and join in discussions with the Crew and others in the MeatEater community.
Save this article