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30 Bests 20

“Jumping the string” is the curse of compound bowhunters because the twang of the release travels much faster than their arrow. A buck will often drop seven-to-ten inches, causing the arrow to strike the top of the deer’s back or miss completely.  The farther the distance, the more likely “ducking” will occur.

Speed kills from fast crossbows.

Crossbows are Different.

Because they shoot much faster, deer rarely can duck the path of an arrow and I’m going to make the case that planning for a 30-yard shot is better than 20.  It may sound like heresy to those, like me, who grew up with compounds and always looked for that magical 20-yard shot but hear me out.

Deer rarely duck an arrow from a fast crossbow.

Better Camouflage

Deer can see blue, but most other colors are in shades of grey such that camouflage and solid rock stillness help to fool their eyesight.  If you are accustomed to setting your stand or blind 20 yards from a trail or ambush point, move back 10 yards further and see how different things look.  At this distance, you may be able to sit at the base of a tree and not need a blind.

Practice at 30 instead of 20.

Even shooting from the off-hand position, it’s easy for crossbows to destroy nocks of arrows when practicing at 20 yards.  I use a target with multiple aiming points which allows me to check for consistent accuracy without damaging arrows.    If you shoot from your knee or rest, you’ll see little accuracy deterioration at 30 over 20 yards.  Crossbows are so accurate, my last Robin Hood used new Easton FMJ arrows at 30 yards which cost two arrows.

Less Spooky Sounds-

The brush of a shirt, jacket, or bow against tree bark can spook a buck at 20 yards.  Being 50 percent further away diminishes the sound and you may get away with that audible error.  Thirty yards is still close enough to stop a buck with an “Erp” and the speed of your arrow will catch it before it can duck.


Smell Too

The closer you walk to your ambush point, the more likely a deer will scent your presence.  A direct wind won’t make a difference, yet subtle breezes and swirls will be less alarming to deer the farther you are away.  Deer treat scent like the sound of a barking dog.  At a distance, the sound can be heard but is not alarming.  Louder means closer and the deer will run.  The same is true for human scent and a little further away may help you tame the wind.

Finally, excitement lessens with distance.

If a buck walks under your stand, expect your heart to pound and your hands to shake.  Although heart-pounding excitement is the reason we hunt, close encounters with deer can be problematic and cause you to lose your practiced shooting routine.  Thirty yards is still exciting, yet far enough to eliminate panic.  Consider 30 yards when planning your next ambush.



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God Be with You, Lennie Rue
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