John's Journal...

Archery Hall of Fame Recipient Hugh Blackburn Tells His Tips to Better Hunting for Deer

Day 3: Shooting Your Bow Instinctively to Take Deer with Hugh Blackburn

Editor’s Note: The late Hugh Blackburn, a member of the Archery Hall of Fame, won many field-archery competitions in his lifetime, hunted deer with a bow for over 40 years and was one of the masters of the sport at a time when most hunters never hunted with bows. As a manufacturer’s representative for the Fred Bear Archery Company and an instructor at the Westervelt Lodge Bowhunting School in Aliceville, Alabama, Blackburn taught thousands of sportsmen the fine art of bowhunting. This expert’s tips are timeless even today and may be just what you need to put a buck on the meat pole this season.

Shooting Instinctively:

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger ViewIf a hunter will learn to shoot the bow without a sight and depend on his instincts for his aiming mechanism, he will be a much-more consistent shooter and a far-better bowhunter than the archer who relies totally on bow sights. Instinctive shooters seem to be better bowhunters than sight shooters, because instinctive shooters aren’t called on to judge distance like the archers are who are using sights. The instinctive shooter will develop a pattern within his mind that the instant he sees the deer in front of him, no matter what the distance, his hand will come up to just the right position to hold the bow, so that when he releases the arrow, it will fly straight and true to the target. Although I am not sure how all this happens, experienced bowmen do know that the instinctive shooter doesn’t try to determine the distance he is from the animal to shoot accurately.

What’s required to become an instinctive shooter? Well, the answer is simple – practice. But practice alone isn’t the only answer. Only perfect practice produces perfect shooting. The best way to practice is to try and shoot objects at varying distances without knowing the distance. Learning to shoot instinctively is much-more difficult. But the bowmen who learn to shoot this way stay in archery longer and usually take more deer than men who depend on their sights. Once the skill of instinctive shooting is learned, then you don’t have to guess distance. But oftentimes the people who depend on bow sights and their own ability to guess distance are frustrated with the sport, due to their inaccurate shooting. Their inaccuracy, however, isn’t in their ability to place their arrows in targets at a specified distance. Their errors are in determining what that distance is. If a sight shooter doesn’t measure the distance from his tree stand to certain objects on the ground to learn exact distances and know when to shoot and which pin to use when shooting, then he has a very-difficult time in hitting the deer. The instinctive shooter eliminates judging distance.

Being Aware of Human Odor:

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger ViewThe human scent is one of the foulest, most-obnoxious smells that ever will enter a deer’s nostrils. There are many scent cover-ups and scent disguises on the market that the bowhunter can use. However, the most-reliable way to prevent the deer from smelling human odor is to wash thoroughly before you hunt and hunt with the wind. By that I mean, make sure the wind doesn’t blow your odor in the direction from where you think the buck is coming. The movement of air is one of the most-critical factors in bowhunting. If a deer smells human odor, he will be alerted to danger and leave the area. The best way to keep this from happening is to be certain the wind blows your scent away from the deer or away from the direction you think the deer will be coming. And, rather than hiding the human scent, I think bowhunters will be better off knowing that there’s no way the wind can carry their scent to the deer - something they can accomplish through tree stand placement.

You’ll learn more about deer hunting in the new Kindle eBooks, “How to Hunt Deer Like a Pro,” “PhD Whitetails: How to Hunt and Take the Smartest Deer on Any Property” and “Bowhunting Deer: The Secrets of the PSE Pros” by John E. Phillips. 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.

Tomorrow: Bowhunter Hugh Blackburn on Positioning Your Tree Stand to Bag Deer

Check back each day this week for more about "Archery Hall of Fame Recipient Hugh Blackburn Tells His Tips to Better Hunting for Deer"

Day 1: Knowing Your Equipment to Successfully Bowhunt Deer with Hugh Blackburn
Day 2: Understanding the Habits of Deer Where You Hunt with Hugh Blackburn
Day 3: Shooting Your Bow Instinctively to Take Deer with Hugh Blackburn
Day 4: Bowhunter Hugh Blackburn on Positioning Your Tree Stand to Bag Deer
Day 5: More Bowhunting Tips for Taking Deer with Hugh Blackburn

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Entry 690, Day 3