The 2011 whitetail season is over. With broadheads quivered and field points at the ready, its time to start preparing for next season. Thats right, theres no time to rest; the off-season is where the greatest strides as a bowhunter are made.
Ive come an incredibly long way since I purchased my first bow last June. Under the tutelage of my older brother from another mother, Steve, Ive put myself in position to have a really successful season in 2012. Under his guidance, Ive learned everything from anchor points to lunar influence to proper field dressing technique and then some.
No bucks took an arrow of mine this season, but horn-hunting isnt what bowhunting (or any form of hunting, really) is all about. Its about understanding. If one is able to understand his mistakes, lessons are learned and reinforced much quicker, and with greater breadth and depth. As a result, one is apt to become a more efficient hunter. With efficiency comes success.
I am no exception. I never found the first doe I shot. Well, I did, but it was too late to reap any harvest. It wasnt for lack of effort, rather it was a rookie error that I made once. Make no mistake it will not happen again. In a rush of adrenaline and excitement, my commotion pushed her farther than where she chose to lie.
Losing my first deer because of my error was disappointing. Steve, though, encouraged me to continue with my efforts. We discussed in great detail the situation and the events that caused the doe to jump and continue her flight. From noise to bloodtrail and everything in between, we broke the hunt and what went wrong down in search of complete understanding. I am now better for it. Two weeks later in the same location, I arrowed another doe in the early morning hour. The second time around everything went right. My arrow flew with purpose. I knew I put a great shot on her. Fifty yards from first blood, with a highly visible blood trail, we found the doe. Steve gave me quite a bear hug in congratulation. For me, the sight of my first found doe was a massive accomplishment.
Throughout my rookie season, I learned and have come to understand a wealth of information that I will carry with me in my quiver for the rest of my life. Now that I have a solid foundation underfoot, its time to build a bowhunter out of me. As for the next eight months, the name of the game becomes practice, practice and then practice some more. A little fishing never hurt, either.