Over the last decade, the popularity of hunting deer using a crossbow has soared. Archery hunters have encountered many advantages using a modern-day crossbow instead of its predecessor, the traditional compound bow.
A few years ago, I was asked to do a couple of reviews on different models of crossbows. At first, I wasn't thrilled about the task because of my love for using a compound bow, and I felt as if I was cheating or that I had an unfair advantage against the animal that I was hunting. When I finally agreed to do the reviews, I quickly found out there are still challenges getting an animal into bow range and making the shot. Many of those trials were not about the shot itself; it was more of the hunter's challenges and the build-up until the shot opportunity happens. For example, one of the crossbows that I reviewed was a reverse-limb crossbow. The reverse-limb-designed bows require a cranking system when cocking the bow. When hunting with that model, I hunted in a treestand close to my home in southern Missouri. When I arrived early one morning to hunt, I elected to get to my stand well before first light. After spraying down with a scent eliminator, I made the five hundred-to-six-hundred-yard walk along the edge of a field to my stand. After getting in my stand, I strapped in my safety harness then pulled up my crossbow; as my final step to being ready to hunt, I began to put the bolt in place on the crossbow. That is when I realized that I had not yet cocked the bow, and to make it worse, the cocking handle was still lying in my garage, approximately ten miles from my hunting area.
I was not a happy hunter when I had to lower the bow back down, unstrap from the tree, walk back to the vehicle, and drive back to my house to get the cocking device. When hunting with a crossbow, remember essential things that might ruin your hunt.
Mobility When In Treestand Or Blind
One of the significant differences between a crossbow and a compound bow is that the crossbow has horizontal limbs, thus requiring a bit more space to make the shot. It is vital to allow adequate space in the treestand to maneuver and make the shot. Always make sure limbs have been removed that could interfere with the hunt. If any deflections remain, the risk of detouring the flight of the bolt increases, and objects can interfere, causing damage to the crossbow or risk injuring the hunter.
The same preparation should be done when hunting in a ground or elevated blind. Hunters should inspect the windows of the blinds and any other objects that could interfere with the crossbow shooting properly. I have heard horror stories of hunters having a deer within bow range, only to have the crossbow's limbs hit the sides of the blind when trying to fire. Again, this could cause the hunter to miss, injure the animal or injure the hunter.
Use Proper Shooting Rest
Another notable advantage of using a crossbow is the increased speed of the bolt and the ability to make the shot without having to draw the bow. If the crossbow has been engaged before, the hunter simply must pull the trigger when they are ready to shoot. Less movement
equals prolonged concealment until the opportunity to shoot presents itself. The disadvantage to the modern crossbow having the mentioned technologies is that the crossbow will weigh more than a compound bow if the hunter has to hold it for some time before making a shot.
Whether hunting from a treestand, blind, or the ground, it is essential to have the crossbow in position and ready to shoot during the entire time you are hunting. To assure you are in position, using a shooting rest such as the Swagger Bipods Stalker QD42's or the QD72 is highly recommended.
When hunting in a seated position from a treestand or blind, the hunter should use the proper bipod such as the QD72's. The Stalker QD72 adjusts from a height of 24" to 72", giving the hunter the proper height to always be ready. If hunting from the ground or hunting in a treestand, the better choice would be the QD42. With the adjustable height being from 14" to 42", the hunter can take advantage of the Flex Ready Technology and rest the bottom of the shooting sticks on their ribs when sitting in a treestand or adjust to proper height when sitting on the ground, or lying in a prone position.
Having the proper stability to the crossbow will ensure better accuracy, less fatigue and keep the hunter concealed longer if the need for staying in the shooting position longer is needed.
Have All Accessories To Crossbow In Possession At All Times
As mentioned earlier, many of today’s crossbows come with a detachable cocking device such as a cranking handle or a rope-style cocking device that manually draws the string into place. It is a must always to keep these in your possession when hunting. For safety reasons, one must wait to engage the crossbow until they are in the stand or blind. As with my experience, not having the proper equipment can prolong the hunt or end it entirely. To prevent any mishaps, I prefer to carry a small backpack packed with all the accessories I might need during the hunt. Other accessories besides cocking devices could be extra bolts, a rangefinder, or extra broadheads.
The last accessory that every crossbow hunter should keep with them is a crossbow-rated target. No, you do not have to take a target with you to the treestand or blind when hunting. However, a target should always be in your vehicle or at a hunting camp when done hunting. Only a few newer designs of crossbows have a de-cocking feature. Typically, to disengage a crossbow, it must be shot. Leaving the crossbow in a cocked position for an extended period could cause damage or stress to the crossbow and be unsafe.