Archery Hunting Mule Deer- Steep Angled Shots!

ScottR

Eastmans' Staff / Moderator
Staff member
Feb 3, 2014
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www.eastmans.com
work2hunt asked:

I'm planning to hunt early season high country mule deer either this year or next in Colorado. Being from the East, what is a typical shot length and angle of shot for a hunt like that?

Dan Pickar, cover author of EBJ 82 and EHJ staff member responds:

Hi Eric,
Bow hunting mule deer in the high country will throw many variables at you when it comes down to making the shot. This type of hunting is mostly going to be spot and stalk in open country and rough terrain. Be ready for windy conditions, longer shots, and steep shot angles.

The most important advice I can give you is to know your ability. For me, I won't take a shot further than 60 yards if conditions are right. What is the wind doing? What is the shot angle? What is the body language of the animal? That being said, Practice, Practice, Practice. I shoot out to 80 or 90 yards at the range. Shooting at these distances will prepare you well for a 50-60 yard shot in the field. Shoot when its windy. Shoot at different angles.

Also, a quality rangefinder with angle range compensation is your best friend. Shot angles can be very steep if you are shooting off cliffs or down avalanche chutes. Sometimes even straight down. Everything has to be perfect for it all to come together. You may only get one opportunity so be ready!



Thanks Dan! What tips would you offer for a first time mule deer hunter?
 

DanPickar

Active Member
Mar 4, 2014
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Wyoming
You bet! A high country mule deer hunt out west is a very tough hunt but also can be the most rewarding! I will be happy to answer any other questions you may have.
 

ScottR

Eastmans' Staff / Moderator
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Feb 3, 2014
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I am going to chime in from the rifle perspective.

I missed a 180 class mule deer in October of 2012 due a steep angle at 370 yards. My rifle caliber is .300 Weatherby Mag with 180 gr. Nosler partitions. The rifle is sighted in to center punch a target at 300 yards no problem.

I had a steady rest and was holding 3 inches high of center mass to compensate for the extra 70 yards. It was a clean miss that went right over his back.

The truth of the matter is that I did not compensate for declination and as a result I went over his back. I will echo what Dan said, get a rangefinder that compensates for angles, if I had that there would be another big buck hanging out in my office.
 

Hilltop

Veteran member
Feb 25, 2014
2,802
6
Eastern Nebraska
Not sure about the laws where you live so check into this before you do it- I have permission to shoot my bow from the private side fence line on an overpass in the country. It is pretty high and you can get the feel for those steep angle shots. I don't have many ways here in the super flat areas of eastern Nebraska to duplicate and practice this type of shot so this works for me.

Best tip I can offer a first time mule deer hunter is to bring great binoculars and use them frequently. You can find mule deer during the mid day in their beds if you are patient.
 

D.Turvey Jr

Eastmans' Staff / Moderator
Feb 11, 2014
171
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Powell, WY
The steeper the incline, positive or negative, gravity has less effect on the bullet thereby requiring you to actually hold slightly under where you want to hit as the bullet has a flatter trajectory. So ScottR, when you have one in the scope this fall remember that ;) Arrows are a little different ball game.
 

packer58

Very Active Member
Aug 24, 2011
945
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Loma Rica, Ca.
Another thing to consider when hunting / shooting in steep country is to make sure your third axis is set up correctly and pay attention to your sight level. It still amazes me as to how "out of level" I can hold my bow at full draw when standing on a steep slope.
 

velvetfvr

Veteran member
May 6, 2012
2,023
0
Reno, Nv
I am going to chime in from the rifle perspective.

I missed a 180 class mule deer in October of 2012 due a steep angle at 370 yards. My rifle caliber is .300 Weatherby Mag with 180 gr. Nosler partitions. The rifle is sighted in to center punch a target at 300 yards no problem.

I had a steady rest and was holding 3 inches high of center mass to compensate for the extra 70 yards. It was a clean miss that went right over his back.

The truth of the matter is that I did not compensate for declination and as a result I went over his back. I will echo what Dan said, get a rangefinder that compensates for angles, if I had that there would be another big buck hanging out in my office.
I definitely echo the angle compensation on the rangefinder. Also practice odd situations. I always make sure I can shoot from my knees, with my pack on, pack off, angles downward and upward. Also try and be able to guess yardages accurately. Definitely helps if you don't have time to range or pre range. If I would have been good in that area it wouldn't have taken me 4 years to kill my first archery animal.
 

nvarcher

Very Active Member
Sep 28, 2011
610
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Reno, Nevada
I definitely echo the angle compensation on the rangefinder. Also practice odd situations. I always make sure I can shoot from my knees, with my pack on, pack off, angles downward and upward. Also try and be able to guess yardages accurately. Definitely helps if you don't have time to range or pre range. If I would have been good in that area it wouldn't have taken me 4 years to kill my first archery animal.
That angle compensation just screws you up! ;)


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target tony

New Member
Aug 13, 2013
10
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Iowa
one of the most critical things for shooting at steep angles is your shooting form. you must keep your upper body the same as you do on level ground. the way to do this is to bend at the waist. do not lower your sight to the animal. draw your bow and then bend at the waist to bring the sight to the target.

may of us eastern treestand hunters have known this for many many years. if you do not keep the same shooting form your shots will be way off even if you use a rangefinder with angle compensation.

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az.mountain runner

Active Member
May 22, 2012
285
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Mesa Az.
I've always taken good care of my wild game ,I recently read and article about cutting up your meat with it still in rigamortis it makes the meat tuff. So how long do you need to let it hang for that to go away ,and can it be quartered or do you need to keep it whole
 

brianboh

Active Member
Jun 4, 2015
392
0
Powell, Wyoming
I've always taken good care of my wild game ,I recently read and article about cutting up your meat with it still in rigamortis it makes the meat tuff. So how long do you need to let it hang for that to go away ,and can it be quartered or do you need to keep it whole
I have cut meat for 20 years and have never heard such thing.