Poor Man's Rangefinder

Poor Man's Rangefinder
As a father of four, finding time to hunt, let alone the money, can be quite difficult at times.
As a father of four, finding time to hunt, let alone the money, can be quite difficult at times.

As a father of four, finding time to hunt, let alone the money, can be quite difficult at times.

Although the kids will eventually be old enough to stay at home on their own, the expense of hunting will never get easier.

I don’t let the cost of hunting discourage me from enjoying my passion for bowhunting. Still, it’s hard not to be envious of the guys on TV who seem to have an unlimited arsenal of expensive tools at their disposal.

Not everyone can afford a rangefinder. Until I can get ahead enough to buy a good one, I will use a reliable, yet quite inexpensive, method of determining yardage.


I use plastic ribbons or flagging, like the stuff forestry surveyors and construction crews use to mark property lines. Bright orange flagging is also available specifically for hunters.


I step off yardages from the base of my tree and secure a ribbon in 10-yard increments. You can attach the flagging to stakes or paint stirring sticks and stick them in the ground, or simply tie the markers to tree branches or bushes.

It’s wise to color coordinate the ribbons with the sight pins on your bow, because if you use all the same color flagging, it’s easy to mistake markers for one other, especially in low light.

For instance, a yellow flag means 30 yards. Orange means 20 yards, and a green flag means 10 yards, just like the colors of my pins.

Place these in multiple places around your treestand, especially in shooting lanes where deer are likely to appear.


This is a good way to save money and have one less thing in your backpack.

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