Expert Offers Tips On Crossbow Hunting

July 21, 2019 GMT

WEST CHESTER — When it comes to crossbows, Joe Byers wrote the book. No, literally, his “The Ultimate Guide to Crossbow Hunting” is the first and last word for both novice and experienced crossbow hunters and shooters. And while Byers is a spokesman for Excalibur, Ravin and Wicked Ridge crossbows, his seminars are not brand-specific. Byers presented the facts about crossbow hunting at the Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association spring conference. He has hunted game in North America and Africa, and showed video of some of his successful hunts before his $10,000 miss on an African plains buffalo at 20 yards. “There are a lot of myths and misconceptions out there about hunting with crossbows, and much of that has to do with advertising,” Byers said. “Crossbows do not shoot like rifles, shots of 100 yards should not be taken and crossbows are neither more accurate nor easier to hunt with than a compound. “Deer hunting with a crossbow is not easy, and they will not deplete the deer herd now anymore than compounds did when they were introduced. Crossbows are simply another tool for all hunters to enjoy and should not be only used by the disabled. “Today, many firearms hunters are making the switch to crossbows because they want more of a challenge. For those firearms hunters entering the archery arena by switching to crossbows, I’ve compiled this list of 10 tips to get started.” • 1. Take charge: Cock the bow, load the arrow and shoot a shaft or two before leaving the shop. Be sure to master the routine while someone is there to assist. • 2. Ask about dry-fires: It may sound impossible that you could shoot the bow without an arrow, but you will and it is important to know how to correct that situation. • 3. Think service: Buy string wax and rail lube so that your bow is well serviced. You will also need an extra cocking rope or crank. • 4. Double-check safety: Make triple sure that you hold the fore end properly with no possibility of thumb or finger contact.  Like checking a firearm to see if it is loaded, develop this habit. • 5. Learn to shoot off-hand: At close hunting ranges, you can quickly become proficient and resting the bow can cause excessive vibration from the stand or possibly cause limb interference. • 6. Cock in good light: Do not cock your bow in a tree stand or in the dark. Use a pull-up rope to raise your cocked bow into your stand. • 7. Buckle up: With firearms, bows or cameras, always fasten your safety harness first. • 8. Practice judging distance: Pass time on stand by mentally guessing distances.  Develop a 10-yard mental picture and then use it to estimate farther distances. • 9. Learn animal anatomy: Bull’s-eyes on bag targets are great for developing accuracy and shooting routines, yet anatomically correct 3-D targets will increase your lethality by becoming a “heart and lung specialist.” • 10. Walk before running: Take a doe at the first opportunity. The venison is excellent, and it will allow you to develop confidence before the antler pressure arrives.  “Remember to have fun out there and pace yourself,” Byers said. “Unlike firearms seasons, you may have months of hunting ahead, so enjoy your newly found outdoors recreation. “When buying a crossbow by all means read the manual and learn how to set it up. Go to a pro-shop and fellow the manufactures’ recommendations. “There are a lot of options when it comes to blinds and treestands, choosing carbon or aluminum bolts, fixed or expandable broadheads and optics. All of these are personal preferences, but the one constant is safety on the range and in the field.” Contact the writer: