From his hand, we enter the fascinating and difficult world of hunting roe deer with a bow. How to stalk them, tips, tricks, their experience, the right equipment and everything you need to know.
Pedro de Ampuero, with a very peculiar roe deer hunted with a bow last season.
Pedro de Ampuero , a native of the Basque Country and a graduate in Industrial Engineering , is undoubtedly one of the best examples of hunter-conservationist on the current hunting scene, not only in Spain, but worldwide. A hunter since he can remember, he started on the hunting path at the hand of his father , an essential figure in his life and with whom he continues to share trips and hunting days.
Rifle, shotgun and bow make him a versatile hunter who always investigates and discovers something exciting in each species or modality , but it is the bow that is his great passion and what has made him a world-renowned icon. Bow hunting is not only a modality that entails greater difficulties and a lower rate of success in catches, but also requires constant preparation and sacrifice , which Pedro always knows how to transmit from closeness and humility.
Roe deer are a species that hooks more hunters every day. They arouse real passions and to a great extent, it is due to that elusiveness that makes hunting them so difficult on many occasions. For your archery hunting, would you rather stalk or wait?
I don’t have patience … I don’t do it on the subject of waiting, in fact, I think I ‘ve only caught one while waiting and by chance , because it was the wild boar, although I think it also depends on the preserve. I hunt in the north of Burgos and the densities are very low. Playing a specific corner makes the chances are low , but the same in other preserves with higher density or because of the type of terrain, that there are still crops that are being taken very well by roe deer or that it is a very tight forest and you cannot stalk, usually there are some corners that take them every day and the wait will be better.
In the end, waiting with a bow is always easier than stalking , which is more complicated but it gives me better results due to the type of terrain and the density of animals. In waiting you can predict what will happen and be prepared.
In that sense, what advice would you give to approach a roe deer stalking?
What I do not like is to never lose their faces , because as soon as you hide too much and you peek out again, the roe deer has already moved and you do not know if it is eating, if it is looking at you and they always end up catching you . That is why I prefer to stalk them even though it may seem to you that you are very exposed at the right time, because they do not see as well as it may seem. It is better to enter a roe deer almost in a straight line and move only when it is eating , than to lose sight of it and look at it after 10 minutes to see if it is still there, because normally when you look out it is already looking at you, or you catch it shaking its head. Basically anticipating their movements .
Archery has nothing to do with a rifle shot. What distance is recommended to shoot a roe deer with a bow?
It depends a lot on the person, what they train and the moment. There are days when the conditions are perfect and I do dare to shoot longer , but there are others when it’s cold, I’m half asleep, there’s a lot of wind or whatever, and it doesn’t come from within me . It is very personal and you have to be aware of each of its limitations . In the end you have to train a lot, I have dedicated many hours to it over many years and I feel comfortable at long distances, but I would not recommend it.
Especially at that moment when you open the bow and you doubt , what do you say, I don’t know if I’m going to hit it, don’t shoot. If you hesitate a second do not throw.
When shooting roe deer with a bow, you have to be especially careful with the ” string jump”. Could you explain what it is for people who don’t know it, and how do you avoid it to shoot a roe deer?
The string jump is basically that the animals when they hear the sound of the arrow or the bow, instinctively crouch to gain momentum and jump. They shrink the legs and usually usually go down from a few centimeters until they disappear completely from the site. It’s funny because many people think it ‘s the noise of the bow, but it’s more because of the arrow . In fact, when you shoot an animal, the only animal that crouches is the one you are pulling , even if it has deer next to it, they do not crouch the same. And it’s because you hear a lot the whistle of the arrow coming.
The reason why they jump is two: when you are very close, between 20 and 30 meters they jump due to the noise of the bow and arrow , which is very evident, and from 50/60 meters , that the noise of the bow it completely disappears from the equation and they move by instinct . So what distance is good to shoot? Up to 30 meters there is very little string jump , 30 to 40 is the worst because they are close enough to hear you and far enough to jump . And from 50 or 60 they begin to move less because they hear the threat less.
Taking all these factors into account, where do you aim for a roe deer with a bow to make an ideal shot?
My recommendation is to aim a little low but not at the knuckle , try to go further back, to the lung area . The important thing is to have the largest area where we can “fail” , that is, if you aim for the heart and one centimeter goes, you hit it in the leg. But if you aim further back and higher, you hit the lung or the liver. I recommend not targeting the heart , but the lungs and a little low.
The pounds to which the bow is regulated can influence many depending on which animals. For roe deer in particular, how many pounds would be the recommended minimum to hunt with?
With today’s bows at 45lbs more than enough , my wife is under 40 and whatever she’s pulling, she’s going through it, so make for a roe deer to spare .
What percentage of success is usually had in this modality?
Except for last year I was good at it, my average is for every one I kill, I miss three . People watch videos and photos and think “kill everything they throw away” and no , with roe deer everything happens and many fail , it is inevitable. But I don’t want people to think that we are pricking animals. The roe deer if you hook it, or they survive or die quite quickly , there is almost no middle ground.
I suppose that for hunting roe deer with bow, there will be some season better than another …
April is without a doubt my favorite month and if not, already the heat . In summer the days with the heat become short, but at the end you see the tables of the roe deer that you hunt and they are distributed throughout the year . You have to adapt to the animals in each season . At the beginning of the year the males mark the territory and are moving more, they are very active. The most important thing is to know how the habits of the roe deer change in each season.
In the time of heat, do you use claim or butolo to call them? If yes, what hours of the day are the best to claim them?
The claim is brutal , that week in late July early August I love it. To me I like the claims of blowing , it is more difficult and you have to practice and costs a little get the hang of , but you can make a greater range of different sounds that Butolo. Anyway, I usually carry a butolo , because there are times when you are claiming your solo, having it in your mouth bothers you to shoot , but there are times when you carry it in your pocket and it can make a small beep that is enough to distract the roe deer.
The best hours are the middle of the day . In the end, when a roe deer is standing and with the female, it is distracted and even if you claim it, it is on its own. On the other hand, if you catch him lying down , the roe deer will be relaxed or bored and when he hears that call from the female, he has more predisposition to enter . So on days of heat I don’t usually get up too early and start methodically at 10 in the morning until 5 in the afternoon . I go to a corner and claim half an hour. I move 200 meters and demand another half hour, through the area where you think they are bedridden.
Many people claim twice and go home, but you have to change places and be methodical , because out of every 6 or 7 positions you get one, two or none , but it is not worth trying twice and leaving it.
Surely there is a roe deer, with whom you have had a special history …
I believe that every year I have a battle , but there was one that almost cost me my marriage . And that never got to hunt . We called him “Captain Harold” … I think he is the largest roe deer I have ever seen , and as I saw him, I told my wife that I was sorry but I needed to hunt him. After a while I got a chance and threw it away and scratched his leg , but there was no way to collect it. The following year I caught him on a trailcam, he was already smaller than the previous one and his wound was healed, but I never saw him again. I insisted on shooting it with the bow and nothing. We never found the head, nor did I see it again.
There are so many variables to take into account that training is essential. What training guidelines do you recommend?
I train every day in the garage. Above all it is constancy, archery is repetition and muscle memory , if you leave it for two weeks it is like starting from scratch. Even if it’s shooting 10 or 12 arrows every day, even if it is three meters away, it helps a lot.
What advice would you give to have a good team? And for someone who wants to start?
As for the bow to use, the most important thing is that we know how our equipment works and that we know how to control it. Not because you have a more expensive bow or the latest model will you hunt more . The fundamental thing is that we know our team: we have to know how they group, the slope and be comfortable shooting to make quick decisions . Roe deer when they give time, give very little, that is why you have to be very used to the team to make those decisions, because those seconds of difference that it gives to have each movement internalized are fundamental.
There are many very well-priced bows, for 400 euros you can get a nice team , but you need a bow that has an adjustable opening and adjustable power , so that you have your game and that as you find your way of shooting, you can adjust opening and power . But I think it is better to have a good preserve and a good seal than to spend all the money on equipment .
The bow: traditional or pulley?
In general of pulleys . With the traditional bow I have started but it is very difficult. As you don’t have a visor, you instinctively pull and when you get nervous and open the bow, you forget everything and don’t even know what you’ve done. To be good at traditional you have to focus on that one and I am not at that moment yet hanging the pulley.
Mechanical or fixed tip?
I prefer a bow to have speed rather than power. In the end, the roe deer weigh 25 kilos so I would go for light arrows, I am shooting with 385 grains and with a mechanical tip of 3 or 4 edges, which due to the type of cut they make that it costs more to close the wound and kill better. The mechanics always fly better , no matter how much you adjust it to the fixed ones and that at home training it flies perfectly, because with the fixed ones you have a very large surface at the end of the arrow, which will affect many factors such as the wind, or grasp the bow a little stronger with the nerves of the moment.
The mechanics give you a larger cutting diameter and for the roe deer, even if the shot is out of the vital zone and goes a little further behind, we ensure the death of the animal in the shortest possible time.
The viewer, one pin or several?
I use one of several pins , the one of a pin is very precise and I use it to wait for wild boar , but in stalking you have little time and you have to have speed to act. If you have to measure a roe deer, move the pin, the animal moves and you have to measure again … It is too much and if you have to go around modifying the viewer of a pin, in the end you lose shooting opportunities.
The nock of the arrow: luminous or normal?
I use the normal ones , I don’t like the luminous ones because of how they hook on the string. The designs did not quite convince me and then I have a friend who shot an animal and saw the luminous hooked butt and I never stop running and since then it left me pissed off.
Finally, a question that is repeated a lot among hunters interested in hunting with bow: what is necessary to hunt with bow at the license and permit level?
The bow is not considered a weapon , so you do not need a weapons permit, but you do need a hunting license , and that bow hunting is approved in the technical plan of the preserve. I recommend having the federative card , which comes with your insurance and justifies the use of the bow to the Civil Guard and the authorities in general.