How To Become More Kill Ready

Posted on March 20, 2013

This past deer season, I was reminded just how crucial it is to be ready for hunting season. By ready, I mean kill ready.

It seems during the bulk of the year I spend most of my time shooting bows, dialing in broadhead flight and narrowing down my gear and clothing choices for the upcoming season. I want to be more or less ready to go at least two months before opening day, which for me is fairly early as I love to hunt deer in August.

But, as I learn more each hunting season, I’m slowly realizing that just being ready in these categories isn’t good enough. To kill game consistently, and quickly, you have to be kill ready, I believe.

 bow hunter

This component I’m taking about has a lot to do with your level of confidence as a shooter and hunter, and more than anything, your ability to trust your instincts when it counts most. You must learn to trust your inner feelings, based on lots and lots of quality programming, and then simply go with it. I believe this defines a large part of being kill ready.


To illustrate what I’m talking about here, let me give you two examples where I personally felt like I lacked this vital trait.


Last August, while I was hunting some remote wilderness in Nevada, I made a long stalk on a nice buck, creeping to within my outer effective range. The deer was lying down and quartering away and there was no cover left to hide behind. For some reason, I hesitated shooting based on the animal being bedded, so I waited and began to further analyze.

Then, just as I made my mind up to shoot, rain suddenly began to fall from the skies and the deer quickly stood up and walked away, never offering a shot and moving just out of range. I was stuck out in the open as rain pelted my face. Forty-five minutes later, the deer caught my wind and spooked. 

End result? Dawdling in the face of a legitimate shot opportunity on a relaxed animal does not describe being kill ready. You must visualize every possible shot scenario you can think of well before the hunt begins and know what you can and cannot handle. Of course, patience is good but not when an open shot stares you in the face and your inner feelings are giving you the green light to make it happen.


The second example took place this past January while hunting mule deer not far from my Arizona home. On the first day out, with the help from a friend, I found a very big buck running with some does, and as I crested a hill, there he was, in range and slightly downhill. He was totally unaware of my presence but his vitals were obscured by some brush.

 I quickly guessed the distance at “40 yards.” Then I heard the little voice saying, “Get to full draw now!” There was an open slot in the brush only steps in front of the deer and the does were beginning to shuffle in that direction (they saw me), and I knew it was only a matter of time before the buck moved forward and out into the open.

But, for some reason, I didn’t listen to what my instincts were saying. Logic surfaced, telling me I had a few more seconds to spare, and I wanted to confirm the distance with my rangefinder, just to be sure.


 I quickly moved the rangefinder to my eye, fired the button and watched the LCD readout flash in and out… the low-battery indicator came on. The device was badly malfunctioning due to the 10-degree temps I guess… first time I’ve ever experienced this. 

While frantically tucking the rangefinder away, the buck took those precious steps I was hoping for and then moved through the slot, then totally walked out of range and beyond the next rise. He was gone for good. 

 Frustrated, I pulled the battery from the rangefinder, warmed it, and put it back in. I aimed at the bush the deer was standing next to. It blinked “44 yards,” or roughly 40 yards due to the downward angle.


The moral here is trust. Kill ready means trusting your instincts and reacting accordingly. Of course there’s a risk you could be wrong. But what in life isn’t a risk? Besides, I believe any longtime bowhunter who abides in ethical hunting practice can learn to trust that small voice inside when sudden opportunities present themselves, and then react.


I know this off-season I’ll be thinking intently about how to be more kill ready for the upcoming season. I’ll be doing all I can to refine my ability and to prepare for every possibility out there. But come opening day, I’ll let my mind run free, as I know this is the key to achieving unparalleled success.


Joe Bell


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