Bad habits

Bad habits

David Sparks Ph.D.
David Sparks Ph.D.
7 Habits of an Unsuccessful Bowhunter

From Brodie Swisher

Shortly after the opener of most every hunting season, I begin to hear the complaints roll in from hunters that have found themselves with a front row seat on the struggle bus. Try as they might, success continues to be denied with each passing hunt. 


Well, there’s certainly a variety of reasons bowhunters fail each season. And honestly, everything has to pretty much go perfect for the chance to punch a tag on a whitetail deer in bow range. But there are the common culprits that haunt our hunts each year. Here’s a look at 7 habits of an unsuccessful bowhunter. 

You Oversleep

Hunting season can be a grind. We often find ourselves tired, weary, and ready to take a nap at a moment’s notice. That’s why sleeping in is so easy for many hunters. And while oversleeping isn’t a bad thing every now and then, it can be a deal breaker when it becomes a habit throughout the season. Rest at mid-day, but don’t blow the morning hunt for an extra hour of sleep. 

You Count On Your Trendy Gear More Than Woodsman Skills

Sadly, a lot of hunters learn the hard way that great gear is not what kills deer each year. You see it all the time. Hunters will hit the woods wearing a thousand dollars worth of camo, toting a $1500 bow, and a pack full of deer whiz, scent killer, jammer, ozone generators, and all other kinds of gadgets pulled from the store shelf. Yet, the results are the same. They walk out of the woods day after day with an unpunched tag still in their pocket. Why? Because they spent more time shopping for gear than they did working on their woodsman skills. Spending the big bucks on gear is no substitute for scouting for bucks and developing your woodsman skills. 

You Hunt the Same Stand Over and Over Without Results

We all have our favorite stands that we’d choose to hunt over all others. These are typically the stands that we consistently see or kill the most deer from. However, the problem comes when we continue to sit that same stand even when we’re not in the action. Hunting the same stand over and over without results is a surefire way to burn up your time and energy. Don’t be this guy. It may be the prettiest spot in the woods, and you may have killed the biggest buck of your life there 5 years ago, but if the deer aren’t there now, it’s time to try something else.

You Play with Your Milkweed More Than You Practice With Your Bow

I recently watched a deer hunt on YouTube that featured a hunter that had evidently just figured out the ability to use milkweed as as a wind indicator. He proceeded to school his audience on how slick the use of milkweed is to always know the wind direction. He flicked it, shook it, and blew it off his hand for a ridiculous amount of time throughout the video. However, when the deer showed up, the poor guy missed the 15-yard shot big time. His excuse? “Well, I hadn’t had the chance to practice much lately.” 

It’s another classic case of being more focused on gear and social media trends than the task at hand – putting an arrow through the vitals of a deer in bow range. Be sure to make time to practice with your bow throughout the hunting season to stay sharp and ready when the opportunity arises. Even if it’s just one arrow a day, the practice will help keep you confident and aware of any issues with your bow.

You Focus on Your Phone More Than the Hunt

This one bites the best of us. We are addicted to our smartphones. I warn my kids of allowing their smartphone to become an idol, but the truth is, I’m just as guilty. Most other hunters are as well. Don’t believe it? Try sticking your phone down deep in your pocket and see how quick the urge comes to pull it out and scroll through social media. 

It’s actually pretty scary how much we’ve come to rely on these little gadgets for life, as well as to simply help pass time. And you can bet that countless deer survive each season thanks to hunters being more focused on their phone than the deer cruising through the woods or food plot. It happens every season. You look up from scrolling through photos and videos on social media to see the deer you were after walking out of your life. It was just there in bow range! Now it’s gone. Want to kill more deer this season? Keep your phone in your pocket and your eyes on the prize. 

You Fail to Scout/Hunt Fresh Sign

You can sit the best looking spot in the woods, but if the fresh deer sign isn’t there, you’re likely doing nothing more than bird watching. The key is to find fresh sign. A lot of hunters get fired up when they see old velvet rubs or dried up tracks and deer scat. Old sign shows you where deer were. You need to find the fresh sign that shows you where deer are now. Make an effort to spend more time scouting than hunting this year, and you’ll find your success rate to soar.

You Don’t Pay Attention to the Wind

Regardless of what you might hear from a slick sales pitch about scent products, you have to be conscious of the wind’s impact on your hunt every time you go out. Successful hunters live and die by the wind direction. Big bucks won’t give you a second chance when it comes to human odor. Don’t gamble on a sit with poor wind direction. Save the stand for a time when the conditions are better. Success will come your way when you commit to hunting a stand only when the wind allows you to maximize your opportunity.  

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