6 Habits of Consistently Successful Western Bowhunters

When it comes to bowhunting Western big game most success rates for archery elk, mule deer and other species, especially in general type units are low. Yet year after year, the majority of success is found by the same hunters who seem to find consistent success.

Over the years I have taken notice of those that seem to always  get it done and looked at what they all have in common. I think that many have a similar approach and habits that allow them to maintain a remarkable level of consistency in their success. I have identified six key habits about their lifestyle and approach that I feel are important for those looking to be in that same category of successful hunter year in and year out.



Top western hunters share a key trait: exceptional fitness. They are able navigate challenging mountain terrain for the duration of their hunt.

Where rugged, mountainous landscapes prevail, the fittest hunters excel. Their ability to go where the game is, allows them to spend more time in areas with a higher likelihood of getting into bow range. 

Good physical fitness also allows for what I consider a secret weapon- persistence. Being able to keep after it each day of the hunt means that they increase the likelihood of it coming together. Fit hunters don’t shy away from game that will be a long pack out and they are able to take the hunt to where the animals are.

I always say hunting success is often the intersection of persistence and luck. You have to keep going to make it happen and those in good shape can accomplish this.


The best hunters excel at meticulous planning. With western big game hunting, you have to have a tag for starters and just obtaining tags can be a challenge in itself. It requires planning and often a lot of research. 

This planning involves finding tags to hunt as well as playing the application game and finding good units to get out every year.

The best hunters I know seem to always have have upcoming hunts, both in-state and out-of-state, demonstrating a proactive approach to ensure a continuous stream of hunting opportunities. 

Understanding the methods for obtaining tags based on your location is crucial for your growth as a hunter. The more hunts you can plan and participate in, the greater your skill development. Engaging in frequent hunts and investing time and research into securing tags will significantly contribute to your proficiency and success in the field.



A key strategy observed among top hunters is their consistent poring over and usage of maps and mapping software. This complements the earlier tactic of obtaining a tag, as the next crucial step involves e-scouting and gaining a thorough understanding of the hunting area. 

When examining maps, I routinely focus on various elements such as habitat types, landownership, access points, topography, potential glassing vantages, feeding areas, bedding areas, roads and roadless areas.

Maps serve as a crucial tool for identifying potential hunting locations before you set foot in the unit . The more adept you become at studying and interpreting maps, and translate that to the preferred habitats of what you are hunting, the greater your success will be on the hunt.



A prevalent characteristic among successful bowhunters is their recognition that seizing a single opportunity is paramount.  Being proficient and comfortable with your bow is essential.

The guys that are consistent make good on the opportunity given because they have practiced in the off season. The best kind of practice involves mimicking the hunting scenarios you might encounter such as angle shots, holding at full draw for a long time, and shooting with brush and other obstructions.

Aside from that their gear is fine tuned. Their broadheads shoot well. They are familiar with their b0w and accessories and have put in a lot of time with it off season.

To truly enhance your skills as a hunter, meticulously focussing on your shooting will help you capitalize on the moment of truth in the field.



This aspect is challenging yet crucial. While being in top physical shape and having the best gear are significant, they are meaningless without sufficient time dedicated to your hunt. The most successful hunters prioritize securing a tag and then ensuring they have ample time to fully commit to it. This involves making necessary preparations, such as putting in extra hours at work and with family, to guarantee the required time for a successful hunt.

If they can’t make as much time during the hunt they often find time outside of the season for weekend scouting trips.

Finding the time is huge when we all have so many other commitments. The ones I know that fill the tags often give it a reasonable amount of time in the field.



While it may sound cliché, it holds true when you observe successful hunters. The most skilled hunters fully capitalize on their opportunities, investing unwavering effort into achieving success. They go above and beyond in preparations, pushing themselves physically to reach areas where success is likely. They grasp the mindset of hunting relentlessly, leaving no stone unturned.

Successful hunters engage the pursuit with the mindset that every ounce of effort expended enhances the likelihood of success. They get up early, they hunt all day, they glass, they hike, they go the extra mile, and at the end of the hunt they hunted hard.


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