John's Journal...

There's The Buck - Now What - with Ronnie Groom

Planning the Shot with Ronnie Groom

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: Ronnie Groom of Panama City, Florida, a longtime friend of mine and hunting enthusiast, teaches bowhunting schools every year. Groom knows his stuff.
You’ll learn plenty this week by reading and then implementing the important information he gives us. Click to enlarge

Once the hunter’s in position to take a shot, and the deer is approaching, the hair on the back of the sportsman’s neck is probably beginning to stand-up. And, his heart may be thumping so loudly that he thinks the sound will give away his position to the deer. Then the second phase of the drill to shoot a deer must begin. Groom explains that, “Once you’re in the position to shoot, you’re facing the deer, and the deer’s approaching, you have to begin to make several decisions as to where you want the deer to be when you let the arrow fly. I usually try to pick three spots at distances I feel comfortable with to shoot at a deer. The first area may be 40-yards away from me, the second region may be 30-yards away, while the third spot may be 10- to 20-yards away. As the deer approaches each one of these killing grounds, I am constantly judging distances. Most of the time I have pre-determined by using my range finder what the distance is from my tree to the three kill zones I have mentally set-up. But as the deer passes through one of my kill zones and heads toward the second, I must continue to mentally change the distance that I am from the deer. Then if the deer becomes alarmed, and I have to take a shot, I pretty well know how far that shot is. I don’t really want to shoot at the deer, until he’s in the last kill zone, which is closest to me. But if he doesn’t walk in to exactly the spot where I want to shoot him, I still want to be able to take a shot and feel reasonably sure that I can make that shot. By continuously judging the distance from me to the buck as he comes in, I can know how and where to aim, and I don’t have time to concentrate on the size of the deer’s antlers. When a deer is approaching a hunter, that computer between the hunter’s ears has to make hundreds of calculations that are constantly changing. The brain is also rechecking the hunter’s position on the stand, visually inspecting the arrow’s placement on the arrow rest and the hunter’s fingers on the bow, while still helping the archer to maintain balance. There’s just no place in the successful hunter’s mind to think of anything except the deer and the shot that is to be made.”

Practicing and Drilling For the Unexpected to Happen: Click to enlarge

As intent as the hunter must be on the deer, its approach, the distance away the deer is, and his own shooting position and equipment, the sportsman must also check for the unexpected. “When I first see the deer, I automatically look around my stand for another deer,” Groom mentions. “Many times there will be more than one deer in an area. If you’re concentrating only on one deer without looking for the other deer that may be there, you may miss the opportunity to take a bigger buck. Or, the second deer may be in a position to see you when you move. If the second deer is present, the hunter’s thinking process must shift into over-drive. Now he has to make dual mental calculations quickly and accurately to try and determine which deer is the closest, which deer is the most likely to pick up his scent, which deer can be most easily taken, and which deer is the target. If one deer picks up the hunter’s scent, it may alarm the other deer. Most often, given a choice betwClick to enlargeeen two bucks, the hunter will usually try to take the bigger of the two animals. But this may not always be the best decision. For instance, a few years ago, I had a 4-point buck standing under my tree and an 8-point buck approaching. I wanted the 8 point, which was a fine trophy. As I sat in my tree, I watched the little white strings that I had tied on the limbs around me show that the wind direction had changed drastically. My scent was being blown right into the nose of the big 8 point that was walking toward me. The 8 point threw his head up quickly, as he picked up my scent. I realized that if I didn’t go ahead and take the 4 point, then I wouldn’t be able to arrow either deer. So, immediately I drew the bow and shot the 4 point under the tree. Those kinds of decisions have to be made quickly and should be anticipated when there’s more than one deer within shooting range, and the hunter is waiting for the best shot. Going through the shooting drill once the buck is spotted is very routine. But when you add another deer or two in the hunting area, then when, where and how to shoot can become very complex very quickly.”

Tomorrow:   Anticipating Wind Changes and Knowing When to Draw

Check back each day this week for more about "There's The Buck - Now What - with Ronnie Groom"

Day 1: Sequence of Events Prior to Releasing an Arrow
Day 2: Planning the Shot with Ronnie Groom
Day 3: Anticipating Wind Changes and Knowing When to Draw
Day 4: As the Draw Is Being Made and at Full Draw
Day 5: Accurate Shooting Pays Off


Entry 533, Day 2