Have you been searching around, trying to find the best bow release for hunting?
This guide shows you the 5 most accurate and fail-proof releases, then breaks down the difference between write and thumb style options.
So let’s get started:
Best Bow Release for Hunting Reviews:
1. Carter Enterprises Wise Choice Release 3 Finger:
This is the best thumb release for hunting and 3D target shooting. Just like its name, it’s the “Wise Choice” for bowhunters.
It is a solid, smooth, and crisp release that won’t let you down.
a. Ergonomic design:
The Carter team applied their 25+ years of experience to create a simple, ergonomic design.
Specifically, the index finger hole securely handles your release, giving you peace of mind.
It fits nice and snug, even if wearing a light hunting glove.
b. How’s the weight?
It’s neither heavy nor light but stable and sturdy enough to hold at full draw.
What does that mean?
It means you’ll have a more consistent anchoring each time you draw.
Obviously, it won’t have you performing “Robin Hood” shots (splitting the arrow that previously hit the bullseye).
But at least it’ll significantly improve your confidence.
A consistent pull, anchor, and release of the string will give you the confidence to hit the kill zone on your animal or target.
c. Here’s the sweet part: Easy attachment
Closing the hook with a button is pretty smooth.
This handheld also comes in handy in treestand hunting situations.
Imagine you’re perched up in the tree, attach it to the d-loop, and hang it on the bow while waiting for a buck to come in.
And it’s easy to grab when needed.
Is it easy to lose?
Nope, not if you attach it to an adjustable lanyard or Scott-style wrist strap.
So your hand-held release is then secure, giving you peace of mind.
What if I have a big thumb?
You can always change the thumb barrel position to fit your larger fingers.
The release will be a surprise to you.
Like hinge release, you’ll be surprised whenever you fire it.
It means you tend to punch (slap) the trigger every time, affecting your accuracy.
Shoot more, and train more to achieve more muscle memory with the back tension.
With a few more shots, it’ll become second nature to you.
At first, the cost isn’t cheap.
But think about it:
If you can shoot the same release over 5+ years, it’s worth every penny. Right?
- Smooth and crisp
- Easy and convenient attachment
- Good customer service
- 3 or 4 fingers configurations
- 1-year warranty
- Ambidextrous design
- Easy to handle
- Suitable for switching from index fingerstyle
- High cost
- Surprise release every time
2. Spot Hogg Wiseguy Rigid Wrist Release:
The WiseGuy is the most comfortable wrist release and lightest trigger on the market.
It’s an excellent alternative to the Carter Wise Choice.
You’ll instantly improve your accuracy and tighten your groupings around the bullseye.
a. Most comfortable straps:
Instead of having an uncomfy feeling like with other cheap straps, the Wiseguy has the most comfortable wrist strap design.
Generally, the Spot Hogg provides 3 strap options:
- Conventional leather buckle strap, which is pretty snug.
- The new BOA strap, which fits small wrists.
- Noisy velcro strap
The padding is comfortable, quiet, and has no flop. You’ll get consistent, comfortable anchoring through multiple shots.
Besides that, the strap prevents you from losing your release when hiking in the field.
b. Rigid platform:
The platform is solid and has no flex.
You can lengthen or shorten the body by loosening a screw at the end of the release.
Who is it good for?
It’s beneficial for:
How does it help?
The cool thing is that the release stays in the same spot on your hand without rotating.
It gives you a consistent and repeatable draw, shot after shot.
The best part:
You can FOLD UP the release, moving it out of the way.
Let’s say you’re sitting in a dark blind.
It’s pretty handy if you need to move it out of the way of your hands, rather than have it clanging on things.
And when you want, flip it back, ready to hook onto your bow.
c. Lightest trigger:
The preset trigger is super light right out of the box.
It breaks so crisply that you execute the shots with a little bit of surprise.
The result: no more “target panic” issues (freezing off target, inconsistent shooting, and flinching upon release).
And guess what?
Using the tension adjustment, you can still control how hard or soft the trigger is.
Give a dozen shots with the preset tension before using the adjustment.
If you set it too light, it will likely slap (punch) the trigger when you are not pulling through your shot.
One other thing… The slight curve shape fits nicely to your finger.
Who is it good for?
This super light trigger suits archers who want to try out a NEW FEELING.
Instead of heavy triggers, the WiseGuy provides a hot (super light) trigger that breaks quickly and crisply.
d. Self-reloading hook:
Unlike other caliper releases that scrape and fray your D-loop, the open hook rolls off smoothly.
Closed-jaw / caliper release
After release, you need to cock (reset) the hook by pushing the trigger forward.
Can be a pain to wear the strap for a long time
Although the strap padding is comfortable, wearing it for hours is a pain.
Besides that, you’ll have to replace the strap after a few seasons.
Too light trigger
Some hunters don’t like a trigger that’s too sensitive. As you have to be super aware when resting your finger on it.
If you prefer a heavier pressure, check out the Carter Like Mike 2 below.
- Hard to beat quality
- Rigid platform
- Most comfortable strap
- Smooth and crisp action
- Super light trigger
- Foldable release
- Swappable between the left and right hand
- Open hook style
- Pain to wear all-day
- Too sensitive trigger
3. Carter Like Mike II Index Finger Release:
The Like Mike 2 is a good backup trigger release. It is well known for its adjustability and crisp trigger action.
It fits traditional archers and shooters well.
The heavier trigger means a more deliberate shot.
a. Some features like Wise Guy above:
It has many of the same features as the Spot Hogg Wise Guy above, such as:
Open hook style design enables quick and easy attachment to the string.
Cocking the trigger
You still need to cock the trigger by pressing the button on the belly side.
Cocking it might be overwhelming at first. But after dozens of shots, resetting the trigger will become second nature.
Ergonomic trigger shape
Instead of having a straight trigger like other brands, the Like Mike 2 features a curved shape.
It’s super comfortable having your finger on there.
b. And here’s the difference:
Unlike the WiseGuy, the Like Mike 2 gives a wider range of adjustable tension: from super light (10 oz) to crazy heavy (11 lbs).
This feature is extremely handy for new archers.
Let me explain:
Traditional and new archers need to learn how to shoot with back tension and to pull through the shot.
Or they’ll likely punch the trigger in those fast-developing hunting shots.
So how to pull through the shot?
- Just set the pressure not too light
- Hook your finger over the trigger
- Pull it through the shot
- And voila… you’ve just learned how NOT to punch the trigger.
c. Carter’s new Controlled Engagement System (CES):
The Carter team innovated from the previous Like Mike version.
They eliminate the trigger travel and replace it with a smoother break.
The result: you get a surprised “clap” when it goes off with no warning.
d. Solid Trigger:
The trigger is much stiffer than the WiseGuy.
Many traditional archers prefer stiff triggers to light ones.
It breaks so clean that you’ll never accidentally miss fire.
Does it remove all panic from your shot?
Nope, this wrist trigger can’t cure you if you’re still struggling with a bit of target panic.
But at least it will minimize the inconsistency in the shooting process itself, which will help you to build confidence.
Take your time and train yourself. It shouldn’t take long to overcome it.
What happens if new archers (like me) make imperfect shots?
Well, this index-style release is more forgiving to inconsistent shooting form.
You'll improve your shot accuracy and consistency even on day one (barring any other external factors).
Its cost is quite expensive for a wrist strap style.
In my experience, avoiding the mistake (of smacking the trigger) that 99% of index shooters make is worth every cent.
Noisy strap when drawing the bow since it flops around.
If you plan to head into the field, you’d better upgrade to Scott's wrist to quiet it down or cut it shorter.
The body length is shorter than WiseGuy. It sucks for big hands, though.
- Crisp trigger with no excess movement
- Open hook style
- Curve shaped trigger
- Amazing through shooting
- Short length
- Need to cock the hook after the release
4. TruBall Archery The Goat Release Aid:
This is the most versatile release for both hunting and target shooting.
For mid to advanced-level archers, this release's versatility can save you money.
a. 2 in 1 combo:
The cool thing is that: you get 2 releases in 1 platform, including both thumb and hinge styles.
Instead of using two separate releases, you can use the same one for both purposes.
The result: you get MUCH more consistency than switching between different platforms.
Swapping back and forth is a breeze. You can do it within 30 seconds.
Here’s the tricky part:
Many archers suffer target panic, which prevents them from firing accurately.
This hand-held release provides a good hinge to practice in the off-season. The hinge lets the shot go off while pulling through the shot cycle.
It eliminates the target panic by offering up a surprise release.
Then if you switch to trigger style during hunting season, you should be used to unpanicked shooting.
b. Solid feeling:
The metal body is not light but provides a solid feeling in the hand.
It breaks so cleanly and smoothly that it will tighten your grouping significantly.
c. Tons of customization:
3 and 4 finger additions
Swapping between 3 and 4 fingers (sold separately) is easy.
Just replace the last finger pieces, and you’re ready to rock.
There are 3 holes to adjust the thumb barrel to fit your hand size.
So don’t be afraid to tinker around with it to get your right fit.
Yes, it costs more than a starter bow setup.
But you’ll save $50 to $100 compared to buying 2 separate releases.
You know what though?
The Goat retains its resale price in the aftermarket. So feel free to upgrade if you change your mind.
Easy to lose
If you plan to hunt on a treestand or out spot and stalk hunting, the open hook style could get you into trouble.
Since the release won’t keep attaching to your string, you can’t just hang it on a d-loop while hunting.
The result: it isn’t ready there. If a buck suddenly steps out, it can be a scramble to get it in your hand and onto the bow in time.
You’d better keep it in a bino pouch or attach it to a strap instead.
On top of that:
Interchanging between the two styles is not hard, but you don’t want to drop that tiny screw and pin too many times.
Or it may end up failing you.
Not a top-of-the-line hinge release
The swappable idea is great, but don’t expect the same feeling as a premium hinge release.
The thumb function of this release outperforms the hinge.
My advice: get a dedicated hinge release if you want to go down this road.
- Ultra crisp action
- Adjustable trigger
- Comfortable feeling
- Repetitive accuracy
- Interchangeable between thumb and hinge releases
- Made in USA
- Easy to lose
- Too much for a beginner
5. B3 Exit Hunter:
The B3 Exit is the best budget thumb release for beginners.
It’s a great deal for the “average Joe” who wants to try a thumb release.
This newest thumb release is explicitly designed with bowhunters in mind.
a. Proprietary Lock-and-load system
Whereas premium releases incorporate various adjustments, the B3 Exit has:
- No tension adjustment
- No trigger travel adjustment
- No moving parts
You can adjust the barrel position to fit the knuckle of your thumb.
Although it’s not as “hot” (crisp) as the Carter Wise Choice, it breaks pretty clean.
It’s not a big deal if you’re trying to find something practical without breaking the bank.
b. Well, how practical is it?
Let's say you’re hunting in sub-zero temperatures; what you need to focus on is execution and making a clean break.
And that’s it: NO MORE, NO LESS.
This handheld fulfills your basic needs.
It means you don’t have to worry about punching your trigger, costing your chance at a trophy buck.
c. Simple cocking:
Whilst the Carter Wise Choice requires you to push the trigger forward to cock it, the B3 Exit doesn’t.
You only hook the trigger down. And that’s it.
The wide handle and big thumb barrel make gripping comfortable, even for shooters with big hands.
The open hook design enables easy and quick attachment to the string.
The comfy strap allows you to pull the bow back with your wrist and hand.
It makes your drawing a lot easier.
Just loosen the screw, and fit it to your ideal length.
If you don’t like the wrist strap style, you can just remove the web strap, and you’ll have a wrist-free release.
No pressure adjustment
What you have to rely upon is the standard (medium) setting.
It won’t feel ideal if you prefer a higher or lighter release pressure.
But don’t worry…It’s just a basic thumb release, remember?
- Well built
- Crisp action
- Simple cocking for beginners
- Comfortable fit and finish
- Made in USA
- Ambidextrous design
- Reasonable price
- Included an infinite web strap
- No pressure adjustment
- Not the most solid construction
Wrist Release Vs. Thumb Release:
In this section, I’ll show you their differences. It’s worth the read!
A wrist or index finger release is an archery aid that helps you to release the string using your finger.
The attached strap utilizes your wrist and arm muscles to pull back the string.
The wrist release is the most popular aid amongst new archers. It’s simple, easy to use, and affordable.
The learning curve is short since it works as a rifle trigger.
What you need to do is to pull the trigger.
If you torque the bow and get the improper form, it stabilizes and can be forgiving for your imperfect technique.
You can precisely control your shot timing by choosing when you pull the trigger.
As the release is always ready in your hand. It lets you execute deadly accurate shots with no issue.
Did you know?
Most pro archers use wrist strap index releases for their archery competitions. As they can achieve precision accuracy.
The price of index release is pretty affordable for most shooters, ranging from just $35 up to about $150.
Less likely to lose it
The release always stays strapped to your wrist.
You will be less likely to lose it while tracking elk or deer in the field. It is great for spot and stalk or still hunting.
The nylon strap fits your total draw length and provides various anchor points.
It also prevents the torquing of your hand, which can play a role in improving accuracy.
Punching the trigger
Shooters using a wrist release tend to “punch” (forcefully squeeze) the trigger.
This issue frequently occurs in high-pressure hunting situations.
Let's say you’re drawing on a buck, and your sight picture is moving around a little.
You must pick the “right” moment when the buck is spot on the pin sight and pull your trigger to release it. This sounds like it is a good thing, however…
The result: inevitable target panic. This leads to flinching, trying to force the shot, and ultimately, inaccurate shooting.
Lack of adjustability
You can’t adjust the pressure of most index releases. You can usually adjust the length a little, which accounts for bowstring creep.
However, the overall lack of adjustability can be annoying for big-handed shooters.
The wrist-style release can flop around and clang against other objects, which is unideal in hunting situations.
Imagine you’re self-filming your shots on a big buck and accidentally clang on your video camera.
A similar issue occurs when:
- Climbing in a treestand
- Changing layers (hunting clothes)
- Sitting in a dark ground blind
- Catching it on gloves, sleeves...
Some models (such as the Spot Hogg Wiseguy) feature a fold-back function that eliminates the risk of noise.
Regardless, it is important to be aware of this.
- Good trigger mechanism
- User friendly
- High accuracy (if unpanicked)
- Affordable price
- Less risk of losing it
- Adjustable nylon strap
- Punching the trigger
- Lack of adjustability
A thumb or button release is a handheld device using a trigger or button to activate your shot.
Many bowhunters prefer a thumb release. Since it allows them to release cleanly and quickly in a short window.
Provides a more solid anchor point
Unlike the finger release, your anchor point won’t float around due to changing position on your neck, face, hand, or wrist.
You can easily settle the anchor point down between the face and jaw.
And it’ll likely stay exactly on the same point, shot by shot.
The result: you settle into more consistent and accurate shots every time you shoot.
Natural hand position
Your hand position is much more natural once anchored in. Since your palm is facing away from your face.
Drawing a thumb button release is also just easier in general than using your index finger.
Eliminates punching the trigger
A thumb trigger release WON’T STOP you from “punching” the trigger and getting target panic.
But it will definitely reduce it by giving off a surprise shot.
And guess what?
You still get to control your trigger, as it is a “command style” release.
The thumb aid features multiple adjustments, such as:
- Trigger tension: how heavy / light you need to pull the trigger
- Trigger travel: how long the trigger moves before letting it go
- Thumb barrel position: angle, forwards, or backward
These micro adjustments are a big plus for accuracy, comfort, and consistency.
Set and forget
The beauty of handheld releases is the closed jaw. You can hook it to your bow’s D-loop and leave it hanging there.
It frees your hands to be able to use your binos, has a snack or rangefind while you wait for that big buck to walk in.
The best part?
You’re eliminating one more step from your draw cycle.
It means less risk of errors and less chance of spooking deer when you’re out hunting.
Did you know?
Joe Rogan (podcaster, UFC commentator, comedian, and avid bowhunter) uses the Carter Target 4, his favorite thumb release.
Easy to lose
Most handheld releases don’t have an attached wrist strap.
That’s why they’re likely to get dropped in fast-escalating situations or while you’re up on a treestand.
If you’re chasing an elk in a spot-and-stalk situation, you must keep tabs on where it is at all times.
OR you’ll risk losing your shooting opportunity, as well as your $200+ release.
My advice: keep it in your bino pouch (or a consistent, secure location) whenever possible when venturing around.
A thumb release costs double that of a wrist strap style, ranging from $100 to $300.
The price difference is due to the more advanced adjustment.
Lots of metal contact
Imagine you’re staying up on a stand in cold weather; the metal contact of the thumb release makes it even colder.
Can be frustrating at first
Many shooters are just switching to the thumb trigger from the index finger.
They forget that they’re drawing a thumb trigger and are likely to relax their fingers as per the wrist strap style.
The result: it costs them a shot, hurts their hands, and/or causes bow damage.
- More solid anchor point
- Natural hand position
- More adjustment for tension, trigger travel, and thumb barrel location
- It can be used as a resistance release using back tension
- Set and forget
- Less problem with punching the trigger
- Higher price range
- Easier to lose
- Lots of metal contact
- Can be frustrating to get used to
1. Should I hunt with a hinge?
Yes, as long as it’s comfortable, you can use any type of release for hunting.
But be mindful that hinge release is not recommended for beginners.
You have to practice a lot with it in the off-season. But it does produce clean surprise shots, improving your consistency.
2. How heavy or light should I set the trigger?
Well, it depends on your style.
If you set it too lightly, you’ll likely miss fire when you rest your finger on it.
If you set it too heavy, it becomes hard to pull the trigger, especially when fatigued or cold.
So you should start a basic tension, where you can rest your finger on it without it firing.
3. What type of bow release is best for hunting?
Most bowhunters use index finger or thumb releases for hunting big and small games.
Since they’re easy to use and pretty accurate for the quickly changing, high-intensity hunting circumstances.
4. Can you shoot a compound bow without a release?
Yes, you can use your fingers instead. But I would strongly advise against it!
Here are the reasons:
- Accuracy impact: your fingers might touch the arrow flight and negatively impact it upon release.
- Tired: holding a compound bow at full draw for a long time is a pain in the butt, no matter what amount of “let off” your bow has.
Our final pick for the best bow release for hunting is the Carter WiseChoice.
- Not as pricey as the Truball Goat; however, not as functional as the B3 Exit Hunter
- Solid, smooth, crisp action
- Feels good in the hand
- Medium weight
- Easy to hang on the D-loop, leaving your hands free
- Fits the big thumb nicely
- Eliminate punching the trigger
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