How to Hunt Deer With a Crossbow


A crossbow is preferred by many archers because it's easy to transport and good for short-range hunting. A crossbow is best applied on a shorter target range because the slip of the bowstring typically makes a louder noise than with a traditional longbow or compound bow. A deer is more likely to hear the string slip before the arrow arrives, making crossbow hunting a challenge.

To successfully hunt deer with a crossbow, familiarize yourself with the weapon's mechanics, such as draw weight, maximum effective range and proper sight alignment. All crossbows differ in range, velocity and draw weight, so consult your owner's manual before hunting deer.

  • Consult with your local wildlife department to inquire about deer crossbow hunting. Many regions have restrictions on the time of year that crossbows can be used to hunt deer. Typically, crossbow hunting is allowed during colder months or when bow hunting is allowed.

  • Locate a deer foraging trail where the deer's food source is readily available. Deer move around often throughout the entire season to find an available food source. Wild peanuts, hard mast nuts such as acorns or broadleaf hearty plants will be your best option when trying to locate deer.

  • Cock the crossbow by placing your foot in the cocking stirrup, pull back with both hands on the bowstring until it becomes locked into position, and place your arrow into the rest. Keep your crossbow at the ready while patrolling for deer.

  • Stay in cover and concealment when approaching a deer or herd. A stealthy approach is your best asset when crossbow hunting because deer have superb hearing, and they can hear you if you snap twigs and rustle leaves as you walk.

  • Aim just behind the deer's front shoulder for a killing shot. The deer's heart is just behind this region, and with shorter crossbow arrows, the ribcage must be penetrated completely to drop the animal.

Tips & Warnings

  • Use extreme caution when cocking the crossbow. Make sure that your foot is seated firmly in the cocking stirrup. Failure to do so can result in the crossbow snapping backward to strike your face and chest.

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  • Photo Credit Men crossbow shooting image by Igor Zhorov from
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