“Every year you hunt, you learn something different,” Peabody resident Jerry Foth said Saturday.
That means Foth has been learning about bowhunting for 45 years. He started hunting deer with bows and arrows as soon as Kansas made it legal.
“Haven’t missed a year since 1965, when it first started,” Foth said. “I hunted the first seven years when it started before I got my first deer.”
It took so long because he wanted his first deer to be a buck. Spending time outdoors is as much of a benefit as actually getting a deer, Foth said.
“You’ll have squirrels sometimes within a foot of you, coming down the tree,” he said.
Foth tends to hunt for a couple hours in the morning and again in the evening. In the morning, he tries to be in his hunting spot about 30 minutes before sunrise.
“It’s so quiet,” Foth said. “You can hear things that you don’t know what they are. You can sure dream of a lot of things when you’re sitting in that tree.”
Hunting deer with a bow generally takes place at much closer ranges than with a rifle. Foth said he prefers to be within 20 yards of a deer to give himself the best shot. That requires a lot of patience.
“The main thing is just sit still,” he said.
Foth is at a disadvantage in noticing deer approaching, because he can’t hear out of his left ear, and he uses a hearing aid in his right ear.
“I have to try to sit where I can see the deer first,” he said.
Based on 45 years of experience bowhunting, Foth has several pieces of advice he would share with anyone taking up the sport. The first is to get a bow that you can pull back easily — if you struggle to pull the arrow back, accuracy will suffer, he said.
Before going hunting, he suggests practicing a lot. Foth has a tree stand in his back yard that he uses to practice.
“And you need to practice standing and sitting down, in a tree and on the ground,” he said.
Every movement is a little different when in a tree, and it is important for a hunter to move smoothly, he said. Jerky movements can attract a deer’s attention and frighten it away.
Choosing a good location for a deer blind is another important consideration.
“You can’t put one up in a tree and expect a deer to walk by,” Foth said. “You have to study them and look for signs.”
There is one wooded area where Foth has three deer blinds, and he chooses which one to use based on which direction the wind is blowing. He also familiarizes himself with the surroundings of his deer blinds, especially the ranges to landmarks, to better estimate the range to any deer that approach.
The final piece of advice Foth would share with prospective bowhunters is to be good guests when someone allows you to hunt on their land. Good bowhunting land is getting harder to find, and hunters that have it should appreciate it, he said.