Tips for Estimating Distance Without a Rangefinder
A quality rangefinder is a valuable tool for outdoorsmen and can help you take more ethical shots as a bowhunter.
And while being able to judge yardage without technology is a valuable skill, some outdoorsmen struggle with depth perception and have to rely on laser rangefinders.
If you typically hunt the same few spots, you can range several trees — or a fence post, shrub, etc. — near each treestand site for reference. Remember these, and you’ll be able to wing it, even if you forget your rangefinder now and then.
But for days when you forget to take your rangefinder to a completely new spot or it just isn’t properly ranging in rainy, foggy conditions, you can still take steps to estimate fairly accurate distances.
You can walk off the distance from your treestand to particular yardages. Stepping heel-to-toe will equate to about a foot per step, or you can count full strides as approximately one yard. Count your steps, do the math, and either make a mental note or make some type of mark so you’ll have a reference point when a deer walks in.
When estimating distances from your treestand, start with identifying a tree, rock, or other spot you believe is 10 yards away. Then work from there in 10-yard increments to more accurately estimate distances that are farther away. You’ll likely come up with much closer guesstimates this way.
If you’re using a multi-pin sight, you should be able to use your pins to help you judge range as well. Take note of how deer, your target, and trees look size-wise compared to your various pins at different distances and use this info later in the field.
But probably the best way to estimate distance without a rangefinder Is to prepare for this situation ahead of time with practice. Move around and guess the distance to your target from each spot before confirming with your rangefinder. And don’t just do this in your flat, open backyard. If you’re mainly hunting from a treestand in timber, do this same exercise in the woods or at a 3D shoot. Using targets that are true-to-size of the species you’ll be bowhunting will help you master this skill too.
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