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Brand new to hunting

3777 Views 14 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  GrizzlyJoe
I've just recently decided I want to learn to hunt. I can hit a target with a rifle, but I'd like to try a crossbow. Partly because it's quieter, and won't scare every deer in the area, and partly so I can have a longer deer hunting season. Modern gun ends Nov. 23, crossbow goes until Dec. 31.

My husband usually gets a deer or two, but hasn't had any luck this year. There are so many hunters in the area now, that odds of getting a deer during modern gun season are much lower than in previous years. They just aren't moving the way they normally do. His hunting time is limited due to his job, but I could hunt just about any day.

I know nothing about crossbows other than what I've been reading on this forum. It sounds like folks are pretty happy with Parkers and Hortons, any others that I might want to look at?

We have our own acreage, in KY, which is where I'll hunt. We have loads of deer in the area. Our property is 22 acres, mostly wooded, lots of good areas with a lot of deer trails and sign. We have a lot of oak and hickory trees, so lots of acorns and hickory nuts, also a lot of persimmons, which the deer love.

We have whitetail deer around here.

I have a lot of questions.

I'd like to know where to aim to have the best chance of a fast, clean kill, and not have a wounded deer running through the woods.

How close do I need to be to the deer?

How strong a crossbow do I need for deer? (how many lbs.?)

What bolts/heads are recommended for deer?

What other important things do I need to know before I buy a crossbow and try hunting with one? (Of course, I'll do some target shooting first and not try a deer until I'm confident I can hit the mark!)

Thanks a bunch!
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Ok, more questions.
What's a "red dot sight"?
Is Barnett a good brand?
Are there any Horton models that wouldn't be appropriate for deer hunting?
Is 150 lb. pull enough?
good to hear you are interested in deer hunting. you are asking great questions. unfortunately i know nothing about crossbows and more importantly the laws in ky. keep asking questions and not only here. ask at your local bow or gun shop. they should be able to help a ton where each state is different. the national wild turkey federation has a program called "becoming an outdoors woman". great program and sounds like it might be just right for you. good luck.
Thanks, Ronn, I've heard of that program. I'd forgotten about it, though, so thanks for the reminder.

I've got this year's hunting guide for KY, the only thing it says about crossbows is that you must use a broadhead at least 7/8" wide, no barbs, no chemical attachments on the arrows, no chemically treated arrows, crossbows must have a working safety device. Oh, and the season's from Nov. 8 to Dec. 31, and you follow the same laws as firearm hunters during the firearm portion of the season, such as the orange clothing laws, etc. There's no minimum draw weight requirement, which surprises me. But I don't know much about crossbows, so maybe that's not as vital as I'm thinking?

So anybody that knows crossbow hunting, I need to fill in the gaps. Thanks!
Welcome to the site and congrats on your desire to hunt. You will most likely need a mechanical or crank loading model. 10 point makes a nice crossbow but they are pricey. Horton would be my next choice. Personally I would opt for a crossbow scope ie 4X vs a red dot just for the magnifacation increase. I had a Horton Legend model. Crossbows with practice should shoot out to 50-60 yds, starting out I'd stick to 30 max. I like a broadhead that cuts at least 1-1/8". The rage broadheads may be one that shoots well from a crossbow? I shoot muzzy 3 blades at 100 grain weight they fly straight. If you aim for the spot just behind the shoulder mid body you will double lung a deer and it will expire quickly. Always wait for that good broadside shot. Some may argue that a 1/4ing away shot is better, trust me on this one. With a bow/crossbow broadside double lung shot is best. Good luck on your shopping and hope to see pictures of that first deer.
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Hunting Man, great info, that's exactly what I'm looking for. You say you like muzzy 3 blades at 100 grain weight, is muzzy a brand or a type of bolt? My DH and I were thinking probably a lung/heart lung shot would be what we'd want. If double lung is quick, that's what I'll try for. Can you give me an estimate how fast they go that way? I really don't want a wounded deer running through the woods, or lose one because it makes it over to the neighbor's property to die. (I can probably get my neighbor's permission in advance, to go on their land to retrieve a deer, we're on good terms, but, I'd rather avoid that, for humanitarian reasons, and nuisance-to-neighbors-factor) If I'm gonna kill something, I want to do it as quickly as I can manage.

I'm a dedicated omnivore, and want to take responsibility for providing meat for myself and my family, (as my DH does, as well) I just don't want to cause suffering unnecessarily, if I can avoid it.

So blades at least 1 1/8", that sounds good, would wider be better for a quick kill? Or would they be more likely to get hung up on ribs or something? I butcher my own chickens, I'm not squeamish, so don't worry about putting me off with detailed reasons for choices. I'm pretty pragmatic, circle of life, and all that. (Something died, now I can cook it, hurray, meat in the freezer!)

Are you familiar with the Horton Tacoma? (Trac-150, 150lb. draw) It seems like an economical model, but I don't know if it would be right for what I want. It doesn't have a crank or mechanical loader either, I haven't seen one yet that does. (but I just started looking yesterday) I'm thinking I can add a scope to whatever I get, is that correct?

Ever try a Barnett? They seem to have good prices, but I don't want to buy a P.O.S. trying to save money.

Thanks so much, I really appreciate the help!
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Welcome to the site Dancingbear. I have a limited knowledge of crossbows but I would recomend finding a pro shop that can help you get started. There are a lot of different sizes on crossbows and some are easier for the ladies.

The mechanical crank is an after market tool you buy seperatly from the bow. I think it can be used on all the crossbows.

I to would advise keeping the shot range inside of thirty yards to keep with your desire of a quick and humane kill. Bow hunting has a lot of oportunity for things to go wrong and the greater the distance the more can go wrong.
Buckshot some crossbows used to come with the crank loading system. $$$ Anyway, the 1-1/8" reference I made is the maximum cutting width of the broadhead and has nothing to do with the bolt size spine weight. You will need some bowshop help on figuring the correct bolts to use. I do not have any personal knowledge on how mechanical broadheads fly from crossbows, ie the new Rage broadheads. I have witnessed the after effects of the Rage heads from a compound bow, they seem to be pretty good. There are absolutely no guarentees (spelling?) as to how far a deer will travel post shot, but a good double lung shot should equal 20-60 yds. A poorly shot deer may go for a mile or more and thats another subject on another day. All deer react differently to being shot, some dash off some act like they didn't know what happen. If you are adversely affected by thoughts of deer death delay, I would reconsider whether or not your ready to actually shoot one. It can be a rather humbling, profound, and yes sad experience. These feelings seem to dissapate and be replaced by elation for the successful harvesting of a game animal.Think on it! Barnett crossbows used to be the bargain basement models?? Many new crossbows now exceed the 150 lb rating but that would be fine.
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Thanks, Buckshot! I always do a lot of internet search and info gathering before I start shopping. It cuts down expensive and time consuming mistakes I might make, and helps with safety issues. I was searching for crossbows with cranks, wondering why I wasn't finding any. Now I'll look for "accessories".

Keeping inside thirty yards sounds good to me. We have a lot of places I could set up a stand or a blind and have deer passing very close. When I go outside to tend poultry or do other chores, I often find I have deer standing around watching me, it's not unusual to see them at about forty feet or less.

I appreciate your time and info!

When I get a little better idea what I need to look for, I'll start looking for a pro shop. I live in a somewhat remote area, I don't think there's one close. Nothing I found in the Yellow pages, anyway. The closest thing we have to a local pro shop is a pawn shop, they can't really help much. They might be a good place to find a good deal on a crossbow, though, once I learn a little more. Or I might end up shopping ebay.

Any other crossbow hunters, please feel free to add your own knowledge! I need all the input I can get.
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Hunting Man, I just saw your post. I know there's a chance I may have a wounded deer running, I just want to reduce that chance as much as I can. I know there's no way to guarantee anything. That's why all the questions before I try it. I'm sure I'll have a whole new set of questions after my first hunt or two.

I'll look up the Rage broadheads, and see what I can find out about them.

When you say bargain basement model, do you mean they aren't very good, or just not as snazzy as the Hortons and others? I don't have a lot of money to spend on this, but if I need to, I'll save it up, skip the rest of this season, and practice until next year's hunt.

Of course, there's other game I could hunt during the year, too. There's a lot of wild turkey around here. I know I'd need different heads, etc., accounting for body size, etc., but could be some good hunting there, too. I hear those turkeys calling out in the woods and fields here all the time. I see a lot of flocks when I'm driving somewhere. We have a spring hunt and a fall hunt.
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Dancingbear, my take several years ago was that Barnett crossbows were not in your top models, they may have improved. You know most times you get what you pay for. As for hunting this year, I really would wait and get the crossbow in the spring you may get a better sale price and spend the whole summer practicing with it. I know it hurts to wait, just a suggestion. You need to learn to shoot it and judge distances or use a range finder. You need some time.
HM, that's kind of how I'm leaning now anyway, except I want to get a bow as soon as I can and practice through the winter months. There's a spring turkey hunt, I'd like to get a few of those birds. (whatever the limit will be this coming spring)

Plus in the spring and summer it's hard to get a lot of practice time, that's my busiest time of year. Crossbow season ends Dec. 31, maybe I can pick up something after that.
okay first its nice to see that you are wanting to get out and start hunting. I would recommend using a rifle first and kill a couple deer with it first only because of the power and distance u can shoot. I have actually shot and killed a deer with a rifle and every other deer in the plot just looked around did not run out of the plot. With a rifle I would recommend shooting right into the front shoulder hopefully breaking both front shoulders and the deer will go 5 yards max. The farthest I would shoot is probably about 300 yards I personally don't know much about crossbows I have always used a regular compound but I would go for a rifle for a while.
I have been hunting with a parker crossbow for 5 years now. It has never given me any problems. I try to keep my shots in the 20 to 40 yard range and it is extremely accurate at those distances. I do prefer the red dot sight only because I don't think you need magnification at those distances. A couple things you may want to know, I can never see the impact placement of my shot. the bolt flies extremely fast. I always allow at least 30 minutes after the shot to start tracking because I am never possitive where I hit it. I also want to say after recovering the deer every shot was right where the red dot was placed. I started using Rage mechanicals this year and will never go back. They fly perfect off the crossbow and leave great blood trails for tracking. I would also recomend 150lb draw or better. I hope this helps. I am by no means an expert but definatley willing to share my experiance.
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from reading im taking it that your stuck on getting a cross bow. now i dont know if ky seasons are like mi but if you opt into getting a compound you will max your time in the woods but its always good to hear that a lady is in the woods in friendly compition with her hubby
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