By Josh Sheldon
Sun Outdoors Columnist
Thank you to everyone for their words of encouragement, ideas for future articles and personal experiences shared with Bob McNitt. Contrary to local lore, I didnít move to Alaska or back to Virginia, I am not guiding hunts in the Wild West and Iím absolutely not hanging out with those folks looking for Bigfoot. One of the most common questions asked was where I disappeared to after high school. Shortly after graduating nursing school, I developed debilitating health issues that kept me from going out and about. Recent surgery has put me back on my feet, and I am quite ready to move on with life. Anyone with story ideas and memories of Bob McNitt you may contact me via email. Bobís legend can be kept alive and continue to kindle interest in new outdoorsmen through our personal accounts of his mentoring skills. Unfortunately, many hunters such as myself, had no mentor in the field. This tends to create a sportsman devoid of outdoor ethics and sportsman-like conduct simply because of their lack of guidance. Itís our duty as sportsmen to pass on the life experiences taught us by our outdoor mentors and those who chose to set an example in the field.
As mentioned in my previous article, this weekís topic will be common mistakes bow hunters make that cause them to miss a shot or lose their deer. My hunting education was purely trial and error, mostly error in my early years. I wasnít fortunate enough to have someone in my life that could pass down their secrets. So, for me, the hard way was my only option. I learned to make a mental note of mistakes and the rare occasions proper decisions were made. I recommend using your mistakes as a beginning point for learning, and do everything you can to prevent the same mistakes from happening in the future. There are so many mistakes that can instantly terminate a hunt, so I am only going to highlight the most common ones.
A hunt can be broken down into several different stages according to the style of hunt you choose. With stalking and still hunting being advanced techniques, I am going to stick with ground blind and tree stand scenarios. Your first mistake may be prevented before you even set out. There are numerous pieces of equipment required to safely and comfortably complete a hunt, which makes it pretty easy to leave something behind. A check list, whether mental or on paper, works best to prevent leaving something behind. *Something I have learned by experience, more than once, is having left my bow home on at least two occasions. The only thing that can make this situation worse is having your buddies standing around to witness your mistake. Trust me, you will never hear the end of it.
The next most common mistake would be improper entry to your hunting set up. Noise, smell, and sight will all play a role in your approach strategy. With smell being the most important step in your approach strategy, plan your approach according to the wind direction. By mapping out your stand locations and noting your most favorable winds for these sites, choosing the most effective location wonít be a problem.
Preparation of your hunting site consists of clearing shooting lanes to prevent arrow deflection, placing range markers at ten-, twenty- and thirty-yard increments to prevent misjudging yardage. Although range finders are very common and work great to range deer, Iíve found in the heat of the moment you may not have time so it is best to just range the trees and mark them with different colored ribbons to prevent confusion.