Practice The Way You Hunt!

Practice The Way You Hunt! As with any activity where you need to be flawless in your execution under stress, we are big advocates of the old “practice the way […]
Practice shooting the way you hunt

We practice at much longer distances than we intend to hunt, so that closer shots will be comparatively easy.

Practice The Way You Hunt!

As with any activity where you need to be flawless in your execution under stress, we are big advocates of the old “practice the way you play” philosophy. Or, in this case, “practice the way you hunt”.

You DO practice… right?

While we do a lot of standing shooting during our pre-archery season prep, we also practice seated shooting from a chair or stool, from a low lock-on stand, from a ladder stand, etc. The point is to at least take a few shots from each type of location and position that you will hunt from to be sure that you aren’t surprised by anything when a deer walks in front of your stand during hunting season.

the 3D archery target almost looks happy

Do you practice from your stands?

Practicing from your deer stands is great for getting the feel for what obstacles you will have to overcome when shooting from each stand. Things like shooting rails, arm rests, and even the tree your stand is attached to will often be in the way of your bow or rifle. Best to sort this out ahead of time and not be surprised by it in the field.
I have started treating “practice” as a “dress rehearsal”. Before the first hunt I put on ALL of my hunting gear, climb into the stand, and take some practice shots. I wear gloves when hunting to hide my hands. So, I wear the same gloves when I practice. Same for the face mask and hunting vest. I practice how I will get into the stand quietly, pull up my bow or gun, get settled in, access my calls and binoculars… pretty much everything that I will do on a “real” hunt. From this practice I’ve learned a few things that have made my hunts go more smoothly.


Don’t be a dumb-a$$

The only problem with what I recommended above is that a Game Warden might mistake your practice for actual hunting out of season. So, I recommend a few things to be sure you don’t inadvertently make anyone think you are really hunting:

  • Park your car/truck by the stand and leave the radio playing loud enough to scare away any animals
  • Put out shooting targets in places where you expect to shoot deer (Deer target review link)
  • If in a place where you are afraid someone will think you are actually hunting, don’t wear your camo hunting gear.
  • Always put on your harness if you are going up in an elevated stand

One of my hunting locations is pretty safe for me to practice without anyone thinking I’m trying to poach. In another, I suspect it would cause problems. If I only hunted on public land or in places where I can’t practice without risking a ticket, then I would set up a stand in my back yard and shoot at my targets from the stand. Again, just trying to simulate as much of the real hunt environment as possible so that I will be ready to make the most accurate, clean, ethical shots possible when the curtain raises and hunting season starts.

About Jeff

Jeff is the Editor in Chief of Gear Report and a National Shooting Sports Foundation Media member. He reports on the outdoor industry, reviews gear for camping, hiking, shooting, hunting, paddling, backpacking and other active pursuits. A USAF veteran, Jeff earned a MBA in Marketing and Health Services. He specializes in consultative selling and internet marketing. As the VP of BD & Marketing, Jeff provides sales and marketing leadership to MGECOM, Inc. and helps acquire new clients in need of solutions for online merchants in need of Affiliate Marketing program management. Jeff founded and manages Cress Sales & Marketing LLC, offering online sales and marketing consulting and services to online merchants and service providers.