John's Journal...

Keys to Becoming a Better Bowhunter with Archery World Champion Jackie Caudle

Day 5: Being in Good Physical and Mental Shape Can Make or Break a Deer Bowhunt

Editor’s Note: Bowhunters already have started practicing for deer season, since many states’ bowhunting seasons open soon. Let’s hear what Jackie Caudle of Gadsden, Alabama, the two-time IBO World Champion, the four-time Buckmasters Champion and the winner of the 2003 ASA/NABH World Championship, who has competed in the sport of archery on the national and the international levels for more than 20 years, considers the keys to becoming a better bowhunter. Caudle also won the Gold Medal in the 2000 ESPN Great Outdoor Games and is one of Buckmasters 2011 Top Bow qualifiers for the 2011 Buckmasters Top Bow Indoor World Championship. His hunting friends consider him an expert at finding and taking deer with his bow. His hunting skills even may surpass his archery accuracy.

Click for Larger ViewBe in good physical and mental shape when you hunt deer. You must have the physical strength to pull the bow back and hold it at full draw, until the deer presents the shot you want to take, and your sight pin is on the spot you want to hit. To do that, your muscles must be in shape. There’s no better way to get your muscles in shape than repeatedly pulling your bow in practice. Strengthening your muscles is much easier than shaping-up your mind. Click for Larger ViewWhen a big buck walks out at 30 yards or less and presents the shot you’ve been dreaming about, even the most-seasoned veteran often will become somewhat anxious and nervous. To solve this problem, mentally tell yourself to settle-down, to relax and to aim at the spot on the deer as though it’s a place on a target in your backyard. Shooting 3-D archery has helped me control the nervousness I feel when a live buck walks close enough for me to take a shot.

When I have to make the shot to win at the Buckmasters Classic, thousands of people are watching. That shot is probably one of the toughest I’ll ever make. I keep from being nervous by concentrating on the target and knowing I can hit it. Click for Larger ViewYour ability to make the shot at a big buck largely will depend on how well you can forget about how big the buck is, what all your buddies will say if you take that deer, and what other things a hunter thinks about when he gets that shot of a lifetime. When that buck is standing in front of you, you can’t look at the size of his antlers. You must search for the one small spot on the animal where you want the arrow to enter that deer.

Once you’ve judged the distance and selected the point you want the arrow to enter, you must concentrate on that spot, make your draw, relax, aim, hold the bow steady and release. Click for Larger ViewIf you go through that simple shooting system, you’ll come out of the woods with a buck. If anything else crosses your mind, you’ll miss the deer. If you’ve mastered the other keys of successful bowhunting but fail to relax and concentrate when you prepare to make a shot at a buck, more than likely you’ll be unsuccessful.

Go to, and read about John E. Phillips’ book “The Masters’ Secrets of Bowhunting Deer,” which includes strategies from some of the nation’s top bowhunters.

Check back each day this week for more about "Keys to Becoming a Better Bowhunter with Archery World Champion Jackie Caudle "

Day 1: Know Your Bow, Match Your Broadheads, and Check Your Equipment
Day 2: Hunt Areas That Hold Large Numbers of Deer and Spend Plenty of Time Scouting
Day 3: Bowhunters Need to Know Wind Direction and Control Human Odor to Take Deer
Day 4: Jackie Caudle On When to Draw and Shoot and Where to Place the Arrow on Deer
Day 5: Being in Good Physical and Mental Shape Can Make or Break a Deer Bowhunt

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Entry 628, Day 5