There’s an obvious answer to the problem of whiffing from a stand or a saddle, and I’ll get to that later. First, I want to address a few of the issues we run into when we get 15 or 20 feet up in a tree, and then try to shoot a deer.
The first is, angles matter.
The steeper the shot angle, the smaller your margin for error. Think of it this way: if you’re as far up as your tow rope can reach, and you shoot at a deer standing a few years from your tree, it’s going to be real tight to reach the lungs or heart. That same deer, say 25 yards out, offers up a hell of a lot more to work with when it comes to hitting its vitals.
Now, imagine that tight-angle shot on a deer that caught you drawing, and is about ready to vacate the scene. Instead of hitting a baseball-sized window to its lungs, you have to think about how much it’ll drop at the shot. This is a prime opportunity for an airball.
If you think it can’t get any more dicey than that, factor in the reality that you might have to consider how far off of your mark you’ll need to aim with your 20-yard pin. You maybe have never taken a practice shot that close, or at such an angle. The odds favor the deer here, as they do in many more situations where bowhunters add in a layer of difficulty to their shots by ascending into a tree or a box blind.
While discretion is an important skill to learn, sometimes the fact that a buck is right there, right now, overrides our best judgment. Or, clouds it to the point where we don’t recognize a razor-thin margin of error, or the body language of a deer that is absolutely going to load its legs up as soon as the first hint of sounds reaches its ears.
The truth is, if you want to get good at shooting deer well from an elevated position, you had better practice from an elevated position. You should learn to maintain your form by bending at the waist and going through your shot routine from checking your bubble level to achieving a surprise release. There are no shortcuts here. You either practice these shots in the off-season or go the trial-by-fire route on stand.
If you want your rare, hard-earned encounters to go the right way, figure out how to practice this skill correctly. It won’t ensure a perfect shot from an elevated position but will get you much closer to making good on the most opportunities possible.
This is a goal all bowhunters should have, and actively work toward.
If you want to level up your bowhunting accuracy even more, check out these articles: The Archery Routine That Will Help You Kill More Deer, The 4 Most Common Archery Mistakes, and The Best Archery Advice I’ve Ever Gotten.