Many unknowns go into any hunting adventure you set out on. Many questions can remain unanswered, and new problems will be presented as you progress your time in the hunting world.
Making the shot comes down to a couple of seconds of critical decision-making and problem-solving skills. No two shots are the same, yet the mechanics in every shot are almost the same.
However, this critical decision-making process can be very complicated at the moment. Changes in your routine, animal behavior, and other unknowns can present different problems that require quick and vital changes to find success in making the shot. The process that happens in making the shot requires the right mindset, preparation, visualization, and execution.
Archery, just like any other hobby or profession, constantly requires adaptation. The first and most important thing to accomplish in your journey to making the shot is having muscle memory. Great muscle memory makes a guide very happy. For some, this comes easy, and for others, this is a constant learning process. I have been personally bowhunting for 13 years now and have guided bowhunters for seven years. Combining my personal and guiding experiences, I am fortunate to have found much success at an early age but have also had many failures. Taking this all into perspective, the average hunter may shoot an animal or two a year if he is lucky with his bow. Of course, many hunters take dozens of animals year after year with their archery equipment, so do not point fingers at me, saying that I am self-proclaiming to be #1 in the archery hunting category. The reason behind all of this is to cut the learning curve for archery hunters. Yes, failures in the field can make us better archers, but what if we knew more of what to expect so that we could practice these situations.
“Prepare for the known so that the unknown can be conquered” sounds great and all, but what if we barely know the “known”? How can one expect to conquer the “unknown”? Guides have conquered many unknowns in bringing their clients success year after year. Hopefully, this will help fill in some of those questions you have on how to find the right guide.
Here are a couple of questions you need to ask a potential guide if you consider booking an archery hunt.
“Are you a bowhunter?”
Just because a guide does not archery hunt himself is not necessarily an issue. Many guides have very little time to hunt personally and, when presented the opportunity, may just hunt with a gun to increase odds due to limited personal time in the field. When asking this question, one thing to make sure of is to understand what type of communication your guide will have with you.
If they are not a bowhunter and do not have much experience in that field, there could be a potential for miscommunications or a lack of communication before and during the hunt. I have more success with my hunters when I make a solid game plan before we are out in the field. Adapting in the archery world is always necessary but adapting to predicted circumstances only increases your chances of success. Seasoned archery guides have had many circumstances thrown at them and can educate you on how to react when the time comes.
“What are your expectations for the shot?”
Hesitation in this answer from a guide dictates a lack of knowledge in the field of bowhunting. A good archery guide can break down many of his previous clients’ shots. The yardage, wind, obstacles, and target positioning are all critical items. A thorough walkthrough of shot expectations should be an absolute must when talking with a guide.
“What arrows/broadheads do you recommend?”
Your guide should be doing everything he can to increase your odds of success. What arrows and broadheads you choose to hunt with will determine the type of shots your guide will be comfortable with you taking. Guides hate losing animals as much as our hunters do. If your guide doesn’t have some good knowledge on broadhead lethality and proper arrow setups, then you may want to reconsider your options.
Communication is the most crucial thing in between the guide and his hunter. Do not book a hunt with a guide who does not communicate well. This can only create terrible memories and a loss of investment. Do your research. Just like buying a new truck or a house, don’t go booking the first good deal that shows up. Don’t be afraid to dig and ask some hard questions. Your research before the hunt will significantly benefit your guided hunt experience.