In Blog, Bowhunting

Byron Ferguson, archery trick shot and highly successful bowhunter, spells out his top 10 no-nos

Byron Ferguson with a bear that tossed logs to get at bait…and Santa Claus in a camo suit telling Ferguson that Christmas arrived early that year.

1. Using wrong approach to stand.

The most direct route seldom is the best.  You should avoid deer bedding areas and feeding areas and game trails.  No sense alarming the sought-after game animal.


2. Placing stand too high.

The higher the stand, the tougher the shot.  There are more obstructions (bigger bones) and tougher shot angles, less chance of double-lung hits.  Rule of thumb — climb just above cover or climb high, but only as high as conditions dictate.


3. Mis-reading sign.

To avoid hunting a “cold” stand, learn to age the sign deer leave behind.  Make sure the sign is fresh.  Many times I have found areas loaded with old signs, but the deer had either depleted the food or simply moved to a more favored food.  Note how old deer tracks are; same for deer pellets.


4. Shooting too soon.

If you shoot the first deer you see, many times you won’t see the big one that was just behind it.


5. Trying to force a shot.

Because you may be able to place your arrow accurately is no excuse to attempt a low-percentage shot.  A deer can and maybe will avoid your arrow, especially when it may be a bit nervous.  Wait for a high-percentage shot, i.e., a broadside or quartering away shot at a relatively relaxed or feeding animal.


6. Scouting at the wrong time.

Learn when the deer are the least active and scout then.  Most scouting should be done at the conclusion of the previous season when the sign is fresh and leaves are down.

If you cannot scout then, do so a couple of weeks before the season so the area ‘cools down’.


Deer movement is governed by their belly most of the year. When you scout, start with food sources and work from there, especially when apples or acorns are falling. Be aware of seasonal foods and how quickly deer will move from one to another.

7. Scouting without a plan.

Scouting is NOT walking around in the woods looking for deer tracks.  My favorite tactic is to look for food sources, being careful to stay clear of bedding areas.  Once a hot spot has been located, I use a compass to note different stand sites for various wind directions.  Look for trail crossings that can be hunted from downwind, too.


8. Routine hunting.

Deer will pattern YOU!  Break up your routine.  Have many more than one or two stand sites ready, so none are over-hunted but remain fresh.  Mid-day can be a good time, as other hunters leave for lunch.  Stay on stand longer, or sleep in and arrive at your stand when you normally would be leaving.



9. Over-hunting.

As hard as it may be, don’t hunt the same stand over and over because it seems to be ‘hot’.  I have seen many good stands turn cold because of over-hunting; they have too much human scent and human activity.

There is another form of over-hunting, too.  This is the burn-out you may encounter if you hunt day after day early in the season when your enthusiasm is high.  You don’t want to run out of gas, so to speak, before the best hunting — the rut — begins.  You don’t want to lose enthusiasm, or use up all your vacation time, or become strangers to your family.


10. Broadheads not sharp.

I mean sharp even after you have hunted a couple of days without shooting them.  Check those edges constantly.  Weathering and accidental contact with the brush can wear them.  Just because they’re covered by a quiver hood doesn’t guarantee continued sharpness.

BECOME THE ARROW            (Paperback, 5-1/2″ x 8-1/2″, 110 pages)

To order BECOME THE ARROW, go to

by Byron Ferguson, archery trick shot and veteran bowhunter

A veteran and skilled bowhunter, Byron Ferguson has tagged more than 300(!) whitetail deer, plus moose, pronghorn, mule deer, and a record-book black bear. He hunts a lot.  In the book, he gives you the benefit of his hunting experience in sections on tidal charts and moon phases, scouting for treestand placement, funneling deer, how to handle the moment of truth, hunting from the ground, hunting from a creek, deer body language, scouting a new area, finding lost blood trails, the five priorities of bowhunting and the 10 most-frequent mistakes.

Ferguson — archery trick shot, veteran bowhunter, longbow manufacturer, a regular on cable television ‘amazing shots’ programs, and a long-time performer at deer-and-turkey hunting expos and other outdoor shows — developed a modern barebow aiming and shooting system called ‘become the arrow’ for longbow and recurve shooters.  It is easy to learn, reliable and puts your mental and physical focus where it belongs – on the target.