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By Dick Scorzafava

A bowhunter today shooting a modern high-tech compound bow has treestand trajectory right by the tail.  Having to compensate for downward shooting angles is no the same as it was when I began shooting as a boy.  Today’s bows combined with reasonably lightweight arrows, those faster than 300fps, fly straighter and flatter. The farther the shot distance from the stand, and the steeper the shooting angle, the lower a bowhunter needs to aim at the deer.  With the equipment available today, a shot 20 yards and under holding between 1 to 3 inches below normal, will put the arrow right through the breadbasket.

Basically there are 3 major factors to consider when shooting at a deer from a treestand; the actual distance, angle of the shot, and archery form.  The most important thing to do is practice from the treestand at the exact heights from which you plan to hunt, bending your body at the waist, not dropping the bow arm.  If the archer does not bend at the waist when hunting from an elevated treestand, the anchor point will be thrown off when aiming.  Try developing a proper form by using this simple method.  Extend your arm straight out as if you were shooting at a target that is at the same level.  Draw your bow to full draw and hold, bend at the waist while maintaining the upper body position of your shoulders and arms.  To insure safety and avoid a fall from the stand make sure you wear a quality safety harness well-fastened to your tree in a way that allows you the freedom to shoot comfortably from every position and angle.

If we think back to high school geometry days and relate how the height of our treestand will affect the arrow flight from our bow at a deer as a right triangle problem. The line of sight from our treestand to the deer will be the longest leg, and the height of our treestand another leg.  The horizontal distance from the base of the tree we have our stand in to the deer is the most important distance and will always be less than our line of sight from our treestand to the deer.  Therefore the actual distance to the deer from our treestand is less than our perceived distance and our arrow will hit the deer higher than we intended it to.

Many bowhunters overestimate the distance of their shot because a deer looks smaller when viewed from the stand, and the overall result is a high hit on the deer.  Also because of bowhunting’s close shots, any noise made from the bow travels very well through air with no cover around to help absorb the sound.  This causes any deer to jump string and crouch before they bolt off into the sunset.  The bowhunter very seldom sees the deer drop because it happens so quickly.  This results in another high hit or a complete miss.  Remember the speed of sound is still much faster than an arrow.

When shooting from a treestand it’s important to keep in mind that the entry point of our hit will be higher than the exit.  If we mentally drew an imaginary line connecting these two points we then have to insure the vital area of the deer fall into that trajectory and will be hit with our shot.  If we aim too low on the shot we could completely miss the vitals depending on the angle of the shot and the overall distance.

Always mark precise yardage measurements from the base of your treestand using stakes with orange surveyors’ tape attached.  Or use Wildlife Research Products Pro-Wick or Key-Wick’s these white felt material products can be used to put on your favorite attractant lure and hang from branches so your eyes with quickly pick them up when you are aiming at a whitetail.  This way you will not be mentally tricked when the deer looks smaller and farther away than it really is from your stand location.  Experience is the best teacher and practice will always make for better shots.  Take notes on how high your shots are actually hitting at the various angles and ranges, and after a while you will mentally develop a feel for aiming lower on the target.  Take advantage of any local clubs that are offering 3-D Competitions, this kind of practice, along with developing the proper shooting form, will pay huge dividends come hunting season.

So how high is too high for your stand placement?  What is the most effective height?  The bottom line is that there is really no magic number.  The ideal treestand height literally comes down to just practice and a little common sense.  The best height is the stand height that you feel most comfortable and safe from. Keep within your shooting limits by passing up any shot out of your comfort zone.

Keeping the three factors of distance, treestand height and archery form in mind when hunting from a treestand will improve your chances of success during hunting season.

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