Adjusting for Incline/Decline

Discussion in 'Whitetail Deer Hunting' started by squidhunter, Oct 17, 2016.

  1. squidhunter

    squidhunter Newb

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    I'm hunting a piece of property this year that is situated on the side of hill. The immediate area around the treestand is relatively flat for a radius of maybe 10 yards, farther out presents either an uphill or downhill shooting situation. Let's say it's conservatively a 50 degree incline to the area behind me, and they travel perpendicular to my set at approx. 30-40 yards if they are not coming to eat at the base of my stand. As an fyi, I do not own a rangefinder yet. I have been able to estimate range successfully for the last 4 years without one, and planned on buying one when I could. I just didn't feel it was an absolute necessity, and therefore have delayed purchasing one.

    Here's the history with my attempts on this hill so far this year.

    First shot is at a broadside doe at approx. 40 yards on the downhill side of the hill. I rush the shot, make a clean miss, and actually end up recovering the arrow from a sapling I speared in front and just to the right of where I had aimed. I know I rushed the shot, didn't get a good cheek/nose weld w/ the bowstring or my wrist, and consider it a lesson learned.

    A fox comes in on top of a downed tree at approx. 35 yards, again on the downhill side. Shoot my first arrow aiming at the 35 yard mark. Miss, and believe it sailed over the fox's back. Shoot two more arrows, once at 25 yards, and again at 20 yards. Miss both of those as well. I do not recover the first arrow. Thick hardwoods area with lots of stones and things to send that arrow off to never never land. Recover the second and third arrows buried in the trunk of a maple tree. Here's the thing. I know my aim was on because they are aligned perfectly vertical on the trunk of the tree about an inch and a half apart from each other. The tree was directly behind where the fox had been perched on the log, which tells me that my range must have been off, not my aim.

    Successfully harvest a doe from 10 yards directly behind my set. Still on the downhill side, but obviously a chip shot. She was quartered towards on this shot. Field dressing and inspection shows the arrow cleanly punctured the near side lung completely, the arrow continued through exiting a few inches in front of her far back leg.

    Another broadside doe at pretty much the exact same spot as the first one I missed. 40 yards approx. Based upon what I learned from the fox, I aim using the 20 yard pin. Cannot recover the arrow, cannot find any blood.



    How do I account for the grade when shooting downhill in this situation? To be honest, I'm not even sure a rangefinder would help me in this situation. Do they account for degree of incline or decline when giving you a range estimation?

    Unless the deer are coming to feed at the base of my set, they travel this corridor behind me at 30-40 yards. I would hate to have to pass on a shooter in the future, but I have zero confidence that I can be accurate in this situation.


    Any help is greatly appreciate.
     
  2. remmett70

    remmett70 Die Hard Bowhunter

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    If you don't buy a rangefinder that compensates for angle, take a target with you and practice at different spots around your setup so you know exactly what pin you need depending on where the animal is.
     
  3. MnMoose

    MnMoose Grizzled Veteran

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    When shooting at angles, you aim for the horizontal distance, or in other words, the base of your tree to the deer. On a hill, it works the same way. Gravity only works over the horizontal distance. For example, if your are in a tree stand on a hill, and you have a giant 10 and he is 50 yards from you down the steep hill as the crow flies, you will shoot over his back with your 50 yard pin. The distance you would want to aim for is the distance between you and the point directly above him at your elevation, it may be 49 yards and you don't need to do much change, or it could be 0 yards in the event of a straight cliff.

    Many range finders are built with functions for this exact situation, and most will show you the distance you should aim in the center, and in the lower corners show you the true distance and angle. My Bushnell Truth RangeFinder is one example that will do this for you.
     
  4. xJochem

    xJochem Newb

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    Some rangefinders will calculate the angle so it gives you the true yardage. I would say downhill is much harder than uphill because downhill the yardage is actually closer then it appears.

    I usually range a tree at the base then at my height to see the difference.

    Also make sure you are bending at the waist to maintain shooting form.
     
  5. squidhunter

    squidhunter Newb

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    Thanks, Moose. The logic makes sense. I think this season has confirmed the need to invest in a rangefinder. If for nothing else but piece of mind and confidence when taking the shot.
     
  6. squidhunter

    squidhunter Newb

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    I also planned on throwing my block target in the truck the next time I head up to sit this set. I may spook a few deer out by practicing, but I think the risk is worth the reward.

    Let's just pray I hit the target with my practice shots. If I lose any more arrows I'll be headed to the outfitter to cut me some new ones.
     
  7. trial153

    trial153 Grizzled Veteran

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    It's nothing to have to shave 20% off a shot in steep terrain. Get a cheat sheet and memorize it
     
  8. head2toe camo

    head2toe camo Weekend Warrior

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    Ha this thread reminds me of high school physics exam questions! Cosine(50)*35 = 22.5 yds, so if the fox was 35 yds and if the slope is 50 degrees and if ur aim was true and if you could actually shoot 3 arrows at a fox without it bolting, you would have hit it on the 2nd or 3rd shot. Buy a rangefinder with angle compensation. You don't want to being doing trigonometry when the trophy buck shows up!
     
  9. head2toe camo

    head2toe camo Weekend Warrior

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    Oops, forgot to account for the height of the treestand, which makes a difference!! if its 18 feet (6 yards) off the ground, your 50 degree hillside is now 56 degrees from you to the fox. Cosine(56)*35 = 20 yds, so if the fox was actually less than 35 yds you could easily miss high even when using your 20 yd pin.
     
  10. squidhunter

    squidhunter Newb

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    Believe it or not, it did stay in relatively the same place. Scurried and ran in a tight circle after each throw. I was as surprised as anyone to have had 3 chances.
     
  11. head2toe camo

    head2toe camo Weekend Warrior

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    Also, you can't shoot a fox until Oct. 22 in PA, and only with a furtaker license!
     
  12. squidhunter

    squidhunter Newb

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    I was in New Jersey.
     
  13. MnMoose

    MnMoose Grizzled Veteran

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    Do you research, as they are not all made the same - But you will not regret that decision. We put in all kinds of time sweat and money, it would be a shame to miss when the big one comes in after all that!
     
  14. squidhunter

    squidhunter Newb

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    It's on the list of necessities now.

    I know for years hunters made do without such niceties, but missing sucks terribly. I'd rather avoid it if possible. Thanks.
     
  15. SharpEyeSam

    SharpEyeSam Legendary Woodsman

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    Good advice!!
     
  16. Bowsage

    Bowsage Weekend Warrior

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    Gravity effects all things equally. Up or downhill gravity effect is the same. In both cases you will hit high if you don't compensate .
     

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