Deliberate Practice

This week I talk about deliberate practice. Making those moments you have shooting your bow the most productive they can be for your hunt.

Thank you for listening to this bowhunting podcast. Today is the second episode and I wanted to thank you for all the comments I received last week. Your encouragement really helps me to know if I am heading in the right direction with the show. Keep them coming and I look forward to hearing more from you.

I mentioned last week that I have a contest coming. Well it is actually in full swing now. You can participate by going to and click on the giveaway link. That will take you to the page with all the information and signup.

I am giving away a razor sharp knife made by MTknives. Patrick at MTknives is a custom knife maker and this is his first production blade. It is a neck knife. very light. but very sharp. I think these are perfect for the woods, hunting and skinning that big game. Along with that giveaway which I have not yet set a time frame to. I believe the giveaway will run for several weeks. Oh you know what I am going to go ahead and set the drawing date for opening day of Bowhunting season in Alabama. That is October 15th. For now be sure you get entered and help spread the word of the show. Remember that the more you share and review the show the better your odds become.

In addition to that giveaway, I need some help with the naming of the show. I would really appreciate hearing your ideas about what the podcast should be called. As I mentioned last episode, I am new to bowhunting so this is my journey through everything as I learn the sport. Let me know your ideas for a title and I will figure out something special to giveaway to the best title. Tweet me a title @shootlatestbow.

Thank you and now lets get into the topic for today. I forgot first I wanted to talk about what I did with bows this week. Or preparing for bowhunting.

This week was mostly recovering from last weekend. I spent the entire weekend at the farm getting things set. As you heard in the last episode, my dad did come up with my brother and we spent days on the tractor.

We were able to cut out several of the roads leading to the food plots. We made several passes over everything to make them wide enough. It would have been impossible to trek through the roads with all the briars that had grown over the last year. It was actually difficult to see where the road was in some spots.

I was on the atv and would cut the trail and the tractor was following. So now I have several cuts from the briars but it was totally worth it now that we have all the roads back open.

The grass we through out last year did take in a lot of the road areas and helped stop some of the erosion. I was surprised that the roads were pretty solid and did not have any bad erosion to them. Since we were not able to get a disc up there. The trailer was just too small for the tractor, bushhog and disk so we just cut the area low and I throughout rye grass.

I think that it will actually take. Rye grows pretty easily and all of these areas had been plowed up before, last year. So the ground is still relatively soft. So I got the seed out and hope that we get a soft rain soon to wet it down and spark some growth. That rye grass will grow anywhere. I think you could throw it on concrete and it would grow.

So we had cut all the areas out and we were driving the atv to all the spots with the bag of seed and it was around 11am. We drove up one hill and around a corner to one of the stands and a large deer was feeding on some of the fresh cut grass literally 5 feet from where we have one of our ladder stands.

He was a good size deer, but did not wait around long. He jumped off into the woods. So, I wanted to get your opinion on something. Does jumping a deer while you are on an atv really have as much effect on your hunting location as a deer actually spotting you in the tree during hunting season. Is it the same thing?

I’ve heard that deer react differently to cars and stuff than they do hunters. Not sure how they make that difference, but I assume that they see so many cars that they just have to ignore them after all and consider them a non threat. What do you think? I told that story in the last episode about the deer and my first tree-stand. Never to see another deer.

Is this the same thing?

I was also able to get the new stand up in the tree. I think I posted an image of the stand on Instagram and Twitter. It is a Blackhawk tree stand and is promoted by Drury. The stand is a pretty good deal. I got it from Cabelas for under or around $62. So in the box it comes with all the bolts and nuts and everything is separated. Had to put it all together. It goes together pretty easily, but took about 20 min total just tightening everything down and making sure nothing was missed. I don’t want to fall out of a 20’ stand.

It did come with a harness. Just a bunch of seatbelt material. Not the best and I did use it to help hang the stand but I am not going to use it when I actually sit in the stand. I think if I fell with that it would do some major damage to certain parts of the body.

It is good that all the stands now include that. None of my previous stands included those. I ordered a hunter safety harness that already came in. I tried something new. I went to amazon and added it to my wish list. Then I went to and added the wish list to my account there. I set the discount I wanted to 15%, its the most you can set it to as a new account and paid with bitcoin.

Someone bought the order for me and had it shipped to me. So the harness is usually $49.99 plus $4 for tax and shipping was free so it would normally be $53.99 and I got it for $46.65. So I saved $7.34 by paying with bitcoin. So that is not bad. If your interested in how it works let me know or just go to the page and they have some videos and things on how it all works.

Today’s topic is on deliberate practice. I’ve been guilty of being kind of lazy with a practice session. Have you ever been lazy with a session? Just putting the target out and standing by the truck dumping arrows into it. It’s good for self confidence.

You know that standing with perfect form level with your target you can dump 100 arrows within several inches of each other. But how does this kind of practice factor into your experience in the field?

I wanted to talk about ways to practice that make a difference and improve your skills in the woods. There are several skills we need in order to be efficient bowhunters. The first is the ability to judge distance. The second is to understand the geometry of the shot. The third is being able to take a shot from various positions. The fourth is the ability to understand and work around obstacles. Combine all four of these into your practice and you will be making every shot count and practicing in a deliberate way.

1 Being able to judge distance
So the first. Being able to judge distance. I sometimes have a difficult time with this and I am judging distance all day long. I’m an architect by trade so a lot of my time is spent drawing and studying spaces in 3 dimensions as well as in the field. At the job site. I’ve always thought in feet. So I have to convert to yards usually.

An exercise that I find useful is to try to judge distance of objects around you while your at work or walking during lunch. As I am walking to and from my car before and after work, I like to study some of the distances. I will pick out a tree in the distance and try to make a call on how far it is from me. Then count my steps as I walk past it. I have found it much more realistic and useful to try and do this outside. Trying to judge distance inside verse outside can be a different story because of the visual restraints of the indoors. It can throw off your perception, it is best to try and practice in the environment that you will be in when you need the skill. So I focus on practicing judging distance outside.

When it comes to actually practicing with a bow, there is a trick you can do. Try placing your target in a location that you usually don’t shoot, Make sure it is a safe direction. Place it there and then walk away. Don’t count your steps. Try not to pay attention to how far you are walking, just walk away to a point and turn around. Try to make a judgement on how far it is and then draw and shoot appropriately. Based on that shot adjust and shoot again. How far off were you?

Now move the target and try it again. Change your angle to the target so your not fooling yourself with repeating based on your previous shot. Depending on your space if you could circle your target and come at it from various angles that would be the best.

2 Direction
The second factor in deliberate practice is to understand how your angle affects your shot. Are you high shooting low, or low shooting up hill? How does that shot angle affect your distance and delivery but also how that arrow will pass through the target. Is the target turned angling away from you or completely broadside? Once your arrow penetrates where will it go?

You really need to understand the anatomy of the deer. What will your arrow penetrate when you take that shot. If the deer is angled towards you and you shoot for the lung will it pass through the gut as it exits. You need to know this.

The three-D targets are good for this kind of thing. You can study how the arrow went in and what it might have passed through as you pull it out. If you don’t have a 3-d target then determine how large the lungs are and where they might be on your target. What areas should you stay out of and what might get you in trouble if you hit it. Like the shoulder blade.

You want to understand where the organs are but you don’t want to be so fixated on them that it freaks you out in the field. The idea is to practice with where they are now so that when your out in the woods you know without a doubt when and where to take that shot. You know that because of your position and the angle of the deer that you need to aim there and combined with your practice of judging distance you can release that shot with very little question.

3 Form
The third area that should be practiced is your form and body position. You previously studied the angle of the shot now how are you taking that shot. Are you sitting? Are you standing or leaning? Do you have a good foot hold, are you balanced? Are you trying to get around something?

I remember vividly the first time I tried this. I had been dropping arrows from a perfect line position. Standing by the truck and one after one releasing with perfect form. Or at least my form. You know what I mean. Basically standing there. I decided to go instead stand beside a tree. I kind of put the tree 1/3 of the way into my shot. Kind of there and kind of not. Just intruding into my space a little. I had to lean out just a bit to the right. I made sure to focus on my form, so I could get a smooth shot.

I released and slapped the crap out of my forearm. The string created about a 6” bruise down the inside of my forearm. Just that little leaning out had thrown off my form enough to get slapped. Practice with various footing, different body positions. Sitting. Do you think you might have to take a shot sitting? If so, you need to practice that. You will be surprised how much your shot is affected by the slight angle or position of your body.

4 Obstacles
The fourth element to deliberate practice is obstacles. I don’t think I mentioned this before but these are all things that you build up to during a practice. start with one and then move to the second then the third. Then once you have practiced them all independently combine them.

The fourth is obstacles. There will be something in your way in the woods. A limb, a tree, another deer? who knows. You need to understand how your arrow fly’s and what will interfere with your shot and what will not. You will also notice that shooting near or adjacent to tree limbs might throw you off even if the branches never even come close to your arrow.

You might just feel like you need to avoid them, when in reality you have a clear shot. Practice shooting near and through branches. Shoot through some thick areas. See how your arrow reacts to hitting branches. What happens if it his a big leaf? Anything? Also practice following your target through the branches. I know that most of us don’t have moving targets to follow but place your target in an area that you would shoot if the deer made it to that point. Then start at full draw pointing at an adjacent denser spot where the deer might start off being.

Some area that the deer would not bust you drawing. Draw back and hold while the deer slowly makes his way to your spot. Is there any time there that you feel like you might have taken a shot before you got to your target? Do you think you could have squeezed one off through a little opening.

Now move the target to that area and start over. When you get to that point let it fly and see what happens. Did the brush affect your goal? Practice holding your draw. You never know how that deer is going to be moving through the woods and how long you might have to hold at full draw.

Be ready to hold and build up from 30 second intervals to 3 or 4 minutes. That will feel like forever. 5 minutes is an eternity.

Understanding that you are practicing for the woods not for the backyard can change your mindset about how you spend your time. It’s good to take the time to perfect your form and revisit the basics from time to time, but really think about what situation you are going to be in once you reach the woods.

How are the woods going to affect your shot. What can you do now to take control of that shot. From my short time shooting, I believe that most of the shot is in the understanding or realization that I can make that shot. It’s a mindset thing. You have to feel comfortable that you can and will make the shot so you can focus on taking the shot.

Deliberate practice can give you that confidence to know that what you practiced is similar to the situation you are in now and you have no doubt that you can pull it off.

How do you practice? What are some of the things that you do to elevate your skills. I would love to hear your regiment before and during the season. Let me know by tweeting with #bowpractice to @shootlatestbow. I will watch that hashtag and look forward to learning about the methods you use.

Like I mentioned earlier I am shooting the Hoyt Alphamax 32. I would like to hear about what model you are shooting and how long you have been shooting your bow? What you like about it and what you might not? You can get in touch with me on twitter @shootlatestbow

Bowhunting in the News
I found several articles that I thought would be worth mentioning here. These are from various sources around the internet. My goal with these articles is to learn more about bowhunting and hunting in general. So each time that I talk about articles or books I am reading, I learn more about it.

This first article is on tracking wounded deer.
The article is titled – Bowhunting Skills: A Refresher on Blood Trailing Wounded Deer by Bill Vaznis

Bill starts by saying Blood-trailing a marginally hit deer is an iffy proposition. If the blood trail is sparse and peters out after 100 yards or worse, seems to go on for miles and miles, you’re forced to decide whether to stay on the trail or give up the chase. I was in this position 3 years ago. This was before I started bowhunting. I was sitting on the ground about 30 yards from a scrape, I didn’t have a stand in the area. Along comes a 6 point. He sort of appeared all at once. He was checking his scrape. I took aim and shot. I must have shot a little low. He took off down the hill and was out of sight. I walked over to the shot area and saw blood.

This is when I made the mistake of starting to track the deer immediately. I started working my way down the hill and heard him bump out of the spot he had laid down. I was just too curious so I went to see if I could find the spot he laid down just to see if there was much blood. It was a good amount on the leaves. I thought I will give him until morning and get out there early. So I left. The next morning I started back at the beginning. I started the trail and moved fairly quickly to the spot that I saw blood last then started trailing from there. The blood was minimal and I would see a drop or 2 every 20 yards. It just kept going and going. I spent from 6 am until 2 pm tracking him. He never laid down again and eventually the trail vanished. He was gone. Sometimes things just happen this way. So back to the article.

He says here are ways to increase your chances of blood-trailing successfully.
Leg Hit
Deer shot in the leg often leave in a strange gait. Your best chance for recovering a deer shot in the leg is to pursue the animal with vigor.
Liver Hit
Dark-red blood is a sign of a liver shot. The rule of thumb is to wait an hour or two before picking up the trail. Unless he is disturbed he should be 150 yards from where you shot him.
Paunch shot
The gut shot. If you think you gut shot him leave quietly and wait 6-8 hours before trailing. He will bed down several times before expiring.
Bill goes on to say if all else fails he has a couple of bullet points to help.
1 – Stay straight. Wounded deer will most often run straight away.
2 – Flag it. Use toilet paper or surveyors tape to mark each drop of blood
3 – Slow and Easy. Take your time
4 – Get Tech. You can increase your chances by using something like the primos’ bloodhunter light and blood-tracking sprays.

Book by Bill Vaznis

The second article is on deer and their behavior
The article is titled – Bowhunting season is nearly upon us by Mike Bleech

Bleech begins the article by mentioning how excited he is for the season but noting that he studies whitetail all year round learning their behavior and patterns. He mentions that the antlers of a deer start growing in the spring and grow really fast until August then start to harden before the rut. Because the bones are still tender until then the deer do not roam because they don’t want to risk damaging the growth. Once the antlers are hard they start to shed the velvet that protects the growing antlers.

Bleech mentions that he likes to operate trail cameras year-round. He enjoys learning all the various habitats and changes in pattern a deer takes during various seasons. He has a theory that deer rubbing on trees is less about removing velvet and more about strength training. Getting ready for the rut. Kind of a mock fight.
Once the antlers harden the deer start to move more but still most of it happens at night and within the dense areas. He goes on to say that deer do not move as much in the early bow season and tend to move later, so scouting is very important. He says that trail cameras are invaluable and should be part of everyones scouting plan. In order for the camera to be most useful be sure the date and time are set so its clear when the deer are moving. The more cameras you have the more you will learn. But he mentions that you might want to take several of them down during the hunting season, so they don’t go missing.

I just wanted to add that I don’t have a camera yet. I’ve been looking at several of them, but they are pretty pricey. Let me know if you know of a good one that I can give a try for under $100. I want to find a reliable trail camera with decent quality, it doesn’t have to be the best, but decent enough for under $100. Let me know if you use cameras and which ones you like. Do you run and manage them all year?

Let me know if you have had any success with any of these cameras.
Link to Several Trail Cameras on Amazon

The third article is just an interesting one.
It is titled- The 8-Point DOE! by Daryl Kirby

So a man goes out into the woods. He successfully kills the buck of his life an 8 point. He starts to look at the deer and something begins to feel off. The deers body seems out of proportion with what a normal buck would be. Then he notices that the buck is not a buck at all. He has to tag this deer, so does he tag it as a doe or tag it as a buck.

He calls the DNR and they tell him to tag it as a doe. As we all know it’s the parts down there that make the final decision. For some reason he doesn’t feel comfortable with that so he puts both his tags on the deer. One for buck and one for doe. That seems a little silly to me but whatever.

So what happened? How does this doe have antlers? Steve Ditchkoff, who is a leading white-tail deer researcher and heads up Auburn Universities Deer lab said, “The antlers are a function of circulating hormones. Sometimes does have enough testosterone to initiate the antler-development process, but not enough to cause antler hardening. In these cases, it seems that they continue to slowly grow antlers that remain in velvet. But, it’s totally realistic for a doe to have high enough testosterone to initiate antler growth, and also have a subsequent rise in testosterone late in the summer to cause antler hardening. He says what he does not know is whether the rise would interfere with the reproductive state.”

Crazy article. Well I think that is going to wrap up today’s show.

Next week I want to talk about what equipment you need to begin hunting. What are the nice to haves and what are necessary.

If you want to find me online you can on twitter @shootlatestbow.

Since you have made it this far into the episode, I want to thank you for listening. We are having a giveaway so please be sure to subscribe to the podcast using your iTunes app or podcast app on your phone. This will automatically download the new episodes to your phone and keep you up to date on where that contest stands.

In order to be entered into the drawing you will have to be signed up for the newsletter. Go to and click on the button that says giveaway. That will take you to the signup page.

On the page, I have a click to tweet and if you tweet it you will get one additional entry into the drawing. If you post something online or tell a friend about the podcast, send me a screenshot and you will get an additional entry. Basically every time you share the show you will get an entry into the drawing. Although if you do some crazy twitter spam autoposting thing, you will be disqualified and your entries will not be entered in the drawing.

If you write an honest review for the show, good or bad you will get an entry for each star you leave. No I’m just kidding. If you leave a review of any kind you will get 5 extra entries in the drawing.

If you leave a review for the show simply go to the giveaway page and let us know you left a review for the show and how we can get in touch with you. Unfortunately because of what I plan on giving away this drawing is restricted to US listeners. I do not want to send it out of the country, so US contestants only 18 and over. I will have something internationally next.

Thanks for listening. Now get out there and draw your bow.

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