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Columnists : Ted Nugent
Last Updated: Feb 22nd, 2007 - 18:37:03

Bowhunting Angles
By Ted Nugent
Jul 19, 2006, 19:24

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Ted Nugent
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Cade Green jabbed me in the ribs. I flinched and looked out the elevated blind window following his intense gaze. How in the world this handsome buck ever got past our ever vigilant, diligent predator radar, I'll never know, but sure as hell, there he was, ten stinking yards below us, big as life itself. I didn't know deer had middlefingers. Wild. Here come the shakes. Cool.

For sixty to seventy yards all around, there was nothing but shin high scrub. Prickly pear cactus patches, dwarf mesquite and silverbrush, with scattered clumps of various indigenous South Texas stabbers and jabbers here and there amongst the sandy, rocky desert like terrain as far as the eye could see. As so often occurs, the beast simply appeared out of that legendary nowhere, an apparition bursting forth from the good mother earth without warning or notice. Godbless the beast. He turns me on.

Cade had the vidcam rolling, capturing magnificent footage of the stunning sunset glow on the beast's grey back winter coat and all his shimmering world. The bowhunting moves were strictly up to me. A sandy scendaro cut just below the blind's scaffolding, then, an ever elevating wall of thick brush lay in the path of the dandy eight-pointer. I had to move quick, but not too quick as to give away my presence.

Carefully lifting my Renegade bow into position, I monitored the slow step by step progress of the buck as he nibbled along and angled even closer to our box blind. I rose up into a semi-squat, poked my arrow through the blind window and silently snapped my Scott release onto the stringloop, preparing for a straight downward shot. Eighteen feet below us, the buck sidestepped slightly right, which now put him on a beautiful quartering away angle, and fortunately, separating him a few yards from the base of the tower. Now I had an ideal fifteen yard, quartering away shot instead of the extreme hard downward angle of just a moment before. My arrow's line to his pumpstation was changing with every second. Then he paused and my arrow was gone. WHACK!

Captured on digital tape for our Spirit of the Wild TV show, that gorgeous white arrow hit the beast square behind the left shoulder, slightly above midway, and slipped out his right armpit, coated red. The mature buck exploded wildly for thirty yards, stopped abruptly, flashed a quick look left then right, backed up a step, then charged headfirst into a tangle of mesquite scrub twenty yards north and slammed to the ground in a heap. One dusty kick in the glowing magiclight and it was over. Well, that's how ya do that. Can you say "Kowabunga"?

Much rejoicing took place in that elevated coop, and upon exhausting an orgy of hi-fives and celebratory laughter, we carefully descended to recover our wonderful gift. The tracking job was performed as if we didn't know where the buck had gone, articulating on tape for our Outdoor Channel viewers why every tracking job is a valuable lesson in woodsmanship, reasoning predator responsibility, a higher level of earthly awareness and just plain exciting fun.

The results of picking the right shot.

He was handsome allright, a seven year old grandpa of a whitetail. Long, grey Roman nose, heavy brisket and bellyline, somewhat gaunt in the withers, and a trophy head of handsome bone. The shot had been  surgically exquisite, entering hi-center through the top of the left lung and exiting out the bottom of the right lung, slicing a Nugent Blade smile clean through the middle of his pumper. It was textbook and I was proud of a disciplined shot and a job well done. That is the essence of bowhunting, all hunting for sure. Be the best that we can be or buy chicken.

The angle had been acute, but not as severe as it would have been if I had taken the shot only seconds earlier. It's always an instantaneous judgment call with the bow and arrow. When I hesitated on the straight downward shot, the buck could have easily escaped under our blind and straight away, but my hope for a quartering away shot materialized out of sheer luck. Believe me, I've misjudged often enough to know and I will take all the luck I can get.

An ok shot one second can become a no-way shot the next. What would represent a perfect 12 scoring hit on a 3-D target from ground level, would be a lost animal for sure with the shot angling below all vital organs from fifteen feet above. Though there is no better lesson than extended, varying, ongoing experience, a basic truism for arrow placement should always be to aim for the exit hole, concentrating on the path of the arrow through the central chest cavity between the shoulders. Learn this and practice it as often as possible to spare yourself the agony of bad hits. I've endured enough of them for all of us and it aint no fun at all, believe me.

A mental 3-D image of the beast's internal organs and how to slice the center lungs must dictate the actual choice of the spot we chose to hit. A spot on a deer's chest for a perfect heartshot as seen from broadside ground level will certainly be too low from an elevated angle. Though a straight downward shot can bring home the bacon when executed perfectly, we are much better off when we can decrease the hard angle by putting some yardage between us and our target for optimal double-lung-ability. I've taken to groundblinds more and more these day for just such improved shot ops.

Comfort draw and aim for Ted increases accuracy.

3-D target manufacturers are making some superb quality deer targets with accurate vital organ displays. I highly recommend using these educational devices during practice sessions from actual hunting positions. There is no better confidence building mind-settler during the hunting season than daily shots under real world conditions, wearing the same clothing we will be hunting in that day and from anticipated ranges and angles. I place major importance on the fact that I take a few practice shots like this everyday before each morning and afternoon hunts as to why Tribe Nuge enjoys so many rewarding backstrap BBQs. It
is truly worth the effort.

The National Field Archery Association and the National Bowhunter Education Foundation are two killer places to begin the anatomical lessons of our bow and arrow predatorship responsibilities. With the scientifically precise information available in their literature, publications, events and classes, a huge frogjump to meaningful pragmatic conclusions will help us get past the guessing game of shot angles and arrow placement. Then as we go afield all giddied up for the moment of truth, we are much better prepared for the delivery of our deadly projectile.

Like the American Dream, being the best that we can be is what archery and bowhunting is all about too. Take it to the limit and don't just dream of putting all our arrows into a single dead center hole; study the science of it all and put your heart and soul into the excellence that we are all capable of. The rewards are many, but just knowing you did your very best will bring the most joy of all.

Ted Nugent's original 1990 book, BLOODTRAILS-THE TRUTH ABOUT BOWHUNTING will be re-released in 2004. It is loaded with more than 100 bowkill stories to educate and motivate. To order, visit or call 800-343-4868. 

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