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How and When to Take Long Distance Archery Hunting Shots

Not long ago archery hunting shots of 40-yards were considered “far” by many bow hunters. The distance was difficult to shoot but it was also considered borderline unethical based on the archery hunting equipment technology available at the time. It was hard to accurately shoot out to that distance and still have enough energy behind the arrow to fatally wound the animal. Well, times have certainly changed.

Technology in the archery hunting equipment industry has evolved tremendously over the last decade, due in part to the competitiveness and unrelenting work archery companies complete year after year. The evolution has changed the way archery hunters are looking at distance. Bow performance advancements have led the way for even the most novice hunters to reach out to 50+ yards consistently. The advances have not only increased the archery hunting distances bow hunters are comfortable shooting, but they have also made closer shots more accurate and helped to expand recreational target shooting to long-range competitions.

Deciding When to Take a Long Distance Shot 

Every yard further you decide to take a shot with your bow the more magnified each little error in those shots become. A minor flaw in form or a last second breathe all can move an arrow off a few feet for a long-range bow shot. Long shots are unforgiving and only increases the build up to finally releasing the arrow. There are two important considerations when deciding to take a long distance shot.

First, does your bow provide sufficient energy trust upon your arrow to not only travel the distance but also have enough momentum to land a fatal impact on the animal? The energy at which an arrow enters an animal determines how far the arrow penetrates and how much damage your G5 broadhead does. The kinetic energy has to meet a certain threshold, approximately 25 ft-lbs, when bow hunting deer and even more for large game like elk and bear. This energy is based on how fast your bow shoots (feet per second or FPS) and how heavy your arrow is. Increases in kinetic energy can be achieved by using a fast shooting bow and a heavy arrow/broadhead combination. However, keep in mind that a heavy arrow loses momentum faster and thus distance will be sacrificed. A balance of shooting speed and arrow weight should be matched to your intended target and maximum shooting distance.

Second, you need to understand the hunting situation. Each drawback on an animal is different and being able to analyze the situation instantly is important. Do I take the quartering towards shot or wait him out if I am whitetail deer archery hunting? You have to make these decisions in the heat of the moment to avoid wounding an animal or missing altogether. The right preparation will help you when deciding to take a long distance archery hunting shot.


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How to Prepare for Long Archery Hunting Shots

A 150-class buck is standing broadside at 55 yards. You are at full draw. The last thing you should be thinking about is have you adequately prepared for a long distance shot like this? Even worse would be an elk standing at 65 yards….Preparation is about having your archery hunting equipment ready, like knowing what combination of arrow and broadhead you will be shooting to being prepared mentally and physically for archery hunting. It also involves practicing long distance archery shooting. You should be comfortable shooting field ready arrows at 10-15 yards further distances than you plan to encounter in the field. For instance, if you believe your maximum range will be 60 yards, you should be accurate and comfortable shooting at 75 yards. Preparing in this way will give you the confidence to make long distance archery hunting shots with ease.

Simply having a top notch bow loaded with technologically advanced bow accessories, will be wasted if you are not prepared for taking long range shots. Each mistake is amplified so to be proficient and confident with shooting out past 30, 40 even 50 yards you need to understand these five long distance archery hunting tips for better long distance bow shooting and archery hunting.

  1. Stance. Being comfortable is the key. Keep feet shoulder width apart to provide a solid base. Remember to practice shooting in alternative stances because whitetail deer archery hunting rarely provides a perfect shot.
  1. Grip. A good grip means all the difference when shooting long range. Let the bow push into your palm and relax your hand to reduce any torque on the bow.
  1. Release. Each shot should be smooth and natural. A poor release will hardly be noticed at 25 yards but at 60 yards it could mean the difference between a hit and a miss. Remove yourself mentally from the release action and let your hours of practice and muscle memory take over to release a true flying arrow.
  1. Hold the Pose. It will take longer for an arrow to reach a target at greater distances and the tendency is to drop your bow immediately after release to watch the arrow flight. Avoid this when archery hunting. You want to be self-disciplined enough to hold your aim all the way through the shot and until the arrow reaches its target.
  1. Know Your Distances. All the practice and archery hunting tips are useless if you have miscalculated or simply do not know how far you are about to shoot. Rangefinders are a must and give you the knowledge needed to make an accurate shot.

Finally, probably the most important archery hunting tip for long range shooting is, to be honest with yourself. If you struggle and are uncomfortable shooting out past 40-yards then don’t. The last thing you want while bow hunting deer is to second-guess your abilities.

To make successful long distance archery hunting shots, a lot of things have to go right. Everything from making the right decision to take long range archery hunting shot to being prepared to make the shot. And let’s not forget the wild card in all of this, having the animal cooperate all along the way to provide you with an opportunity. Being confident and able to shoot at long ranges with a bow will take your archery hunting to the next level and ultimately give you more chances at putting an arrow in an animal.


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Hunting and fire danger in Oregon

ODFW does NOT close hunting seasons due to fire danger. However, hunters may face restrictions due to fires burning on public land and reduced access to private lands during fire season. Click here for more info including list of private land closures


Click here for fire season closures on private forestland

Hunters need to be aware that ownership of several timber land parcels in Coos County has recently changed. In some cases the new owners have different access policies than their predecessors. Make sure you know what the policy is before accessing private land and don’t assume the policy is the same as prior years.

Elk – Bow season continues. Elk populations are slightly down from previous years but hunters can still expect to find animals distributed across the county. Hunters are best served focusing on clear-cuts and open slopes in the morning and evening hours. Riparian drainages and meadows can also be productive for bugling bulls. Dry warm conditions will make elk move to north facing slopes in the day to escape the heat in the shade. Also, grass will be most nutritious on those slopes due to higher moisture content. Fire precautions are in place and hunters should check with local land managers to ensure access rules and regulations.

Deer - Bow season continues. Deer numbers are in line with long term trends and hunters can expect to find animals across the county. Riparian areas, clear-cuts, and agricultural lands can all be productive. In the mornings and evenings, when conditions are have cooled deer will move onto brushy hill slopes and grassy meadows to feed. Fire precautions are in place and hunters should check with local land managers to ensure access rules and regulations.


Click here for Fire Season Closures on private land 

Elk - Bow season is open now. Elk populations are similar to last year so this hunting year will be average. During the early part of the archery season, hunters should find elk on the northerly slopes and in dense conifer stands. Elk numbers are highest in the Tioga with lower levels in the Dixon, S. Indigo and Melrose units.

Deer - Bow season continues. Deer populations are similar to last year, with low levels at upper elevations and high population levels on the Umpqua Valley floor. Most low elevation lands are privately owned so hunters are reminded to obtain permission before hunting on those lands. During the early part of the archery season, hunters should find deer on the northerly slopes and near water and green up areas.


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Deer: Archery deer season continues. 2016 hunter success remained the same as it was in 2015. The 2017 season should be good as well. Remember that deer in the Dixon, Rogue, and Evans Creek unit typically are at high elevations during the summer and as fall approaches they migrate down to lower elevations; however there are resident deer on the valley floor year round. In the Applegate and Chetco units deer that are present at higher elevations usually only move when pushed out by severe weather. 

Elk: General Archery Elk season continues for any elk in the Applegate unit and lands outside of the US Forest Service’s National Forest boundaries in the Rogue, Dixon, and Evans Creek units. Within the National Forest boundaries in the Rogue, Dixon, and Evans Creek unit as well as the entire Chetco and Sixes units hunting is restricted to bull elk only. Always refer to the 2017 Oregon Big Game Hunting Regulation before heading out to hunt. This is expected to be an average harvest year with a slight decrease in hunter success in 2016 compared to the previous season. During the first part of the season when the weather is warmer look for elk in the cooler drainages as well as on north facing slopes. Finding and sitting on active wallows and other water sources can be very productive in hot weather. 

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