John's Journal...

Master Plans from Top Bowhunters to Take Deer

Day 5: Preparing for Bow Season with Dr. Bob Sheppard

Editor’s Note: Bowhunting need not be a sport of feast or famine. To up your success rate, try this advice from some of the country’s most-consistent, detail-oriented bowmen. Why do some archers consistently take deer each season with their bows, while others who spend just as much time in the woods rarely, if ever, experience success? Let’s see how the best bowhunters in the nation produce deer. Dr. Bob Sheppard of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, lives in the middle of some of the best deer-hunting country in the South. He actively pursues many kinds of game year-round and especially enjoys the challenge of hunting with his bow.

Prepare Before the Season:

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger View“I go to the thick-cover areas on the land I hunt during the summer months and move 30- to 40-yards inside a thicket,” Dr. Sheppard reports. “I cut a small trail to the spot in the thicket I want to hunt. Usually the trail will be no more than 2-feet wide – just wide enough for me to walk without my clothes touching bushes and brambles on either side. Then I won’t leave very-much odor on bushes and trees as I walk. At the end of the trail in the middle of the thicket, I’ll look for a tree to place a tree stand in or a high point where I can set-up a ground blind. Then I’ll set-up my tree stand or build a ground blind and face it northwest by using my compass to increase my odds of having a favorable wind on the day I hunt. The wind in west-central Alabama where I generally hunt blows from the northwest. I’ll cut four shooting lanes, 3- to 4-feet wide, in the heart of the thick cover, that spoke-out in different directions from my stand site. These shooting lanes give me a clear path for my arrow to fly when I see a buck in that thick cover.

“I may return to this region just before bow season to make sure I don’t have to do any more cutting or cleaning of my shooting lanes. On my way out of the thicket, I’ll place two Bright Eyes, which are thumbtacks tipped with fluorescent paint, in trees or bushes about eight to 10 inches off the ground where I can see them before daylight. I’ll put them close to the ground so anyone else who spots them will think they’re rabbits’ eyes and not trail markers. If you want to take a trophy buck with your bow in thick cover during gun/deer season, you must be sure no one else hunts your stand site except you. Only by camouflaging the way you go into and leave that thicket can you be certain no one else hunts your late-season hot spot.”

Don’t Shoot Too Quickly or Wait Too Long:

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger ViewMany good bowhunters don’t harvest deer as often as they can, because they don’t know when to take their shots. They either shoot before they have good shots or wait for the best shot and never get a shot. Experience is the best teacher a bowhunter can have, since a hunter must learn when he should take a shot. But my rule is that when an animal presents me with a good shot that I feel I can put him down with, that’s the time I shoot. I don’t believe you ever should hurry a shot. However, I’ve also found that you shouldn’t wait on that best shot, because many times deer won’t give you the shot you want. I’ve waited around for that best shot before, never had it presented to me and watched a nice deer walk away from me. Don’t play with a deer, don’t watch a deer, and don’t take a head-on shot either. But when you’ve got a good shot, do take it.

Jim Crumley's Secrets of Bowhunting DeerDeer and FixingsYou’ll learn more information and tips in the new Kindle eBook by John E. Phillips: “Jim Crumley's Secrets of Bowhunting Deer,” and learn many ways to prepare venison in “Deer and Fixings.” Go to, type in the names of the books and download them to your Kindle, and/or download a Kindle app for your iPad, SmartPhone or computer.

Check back each day this week for more about "Master Plans from Top Bowhunters to Take Deer"

Day 1: Learn the Land
Day 2: Larry Norton Says Follow the Squirrels to Find Buck Deer
Day 3: Prepare for Bow Deer Season Carefully with Bob Foulkrod
Day 4: Other Ways to Have a Successful Master Plan for Bowhunting Deer
Day 5: Preparing for Bow Season with Dr. Bob Sheppard

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Entry 686, Day 5