Virtual Scouting. Through the use of the satellite photography available on the internet and modern topographical maps, Goins suggests obtaining as much information as possible about the land you'll be hunting. Armed with this information, a hunter can narrow his "field scouting" down to just a few hours.
Field Scouting. "Verify what you've found on the maps and satellites," Goins said. "Your field scouting should include finding an appropriate stand site, entry, and exit points without stomping up the woods."
Hunt The Wind. An all-too-common cliché, many hunters will still fudge and hunt an area even if the wind isn't right. "For a big buck that winds you in his living room, you didn't blow just that hunt, you probably lost him for the season," Goins said.
Scent Elimination. According to Goins, scent elimination and using the wind to your favor, both while hunting and walking into the stand, are more important than trying to cover scent. He prefers not to bring any scent to his stand location.
Use The Right Stand. "A climbing stand requires a straight tree, and those aren't always available in all the areas you want to hunt" said Goins. "Most lock-ons have leveling capabilities, and with those, you can make a crooked tree work to your advantage. Plus, a lock-on gives me more range of motion to shoot."
Stand Placement. Knowing where food sources and bedding areas are will allow you to see more deer. Hunting in them will cost you shots at good bucks. Set up on travel routes to and from feeding and bedding areas.
Minimize Hunting Pressure. "Even if you only have a couple hundred acres to hunt, don't hunt the same stands in the same locations over and over," Goins said. "Even changing trees by a few yards will reduce the likelihood of a deer patterning you."
Know Your Ranges. Goins relies on a quality rangefinder to determine the exact distance from his stand to immobile targets around it. It also relieves him of having to range an actual animal before taking a shot with his bow.
See Through Trees. Goins' next most valuable piece of non-weaponry is a good set of binoculars. "The naked eye can only focus on so many things at one time," he said. "With a good set of objective-lens binoculars, you can actually see through underbrush and focus on objects that are out of your normal range of vision."
Tune Your Bow. "A lot of guys think if they're hitting their marks, the bow is okay," he said. "In reality, the arrow can porpoise or tail kick and still end up hitting the target. The problem is the loss of energy robbed by the erratic flight path."
Rethink Your Broadhead. Goins makes his point for fixed-blade broadheads, suggesting that recent advances in technology have made the fixed-blade broadhead a lot more accurate. Combined with better retention of kinetic energy on impact, Goins sees little benefit in the mechanical blades that have become popular in recent years.
Practice, Practice, Practice. "'Aim small, miss small' is a great adage," Goins said. "To put that into practical use, pick a specific spot, pick one hair, and try to hit it. Your groups will tighten up almost immediately."
Editor's Note: This story appears as part of a feature in North Carolina Sportsman's November issue. To ensure you don't miss any information-packed issues, click here to have each magazine delivered right to your mail box.