Go to a pro shop and have them measure your draw length etc. before you start looking.Bows are like guns,you should almost shoot the bow before you buy it.Scheels in fargo has a setup in the back where you can shoot the bows.If you have owned a compound before you will know it when you shoot the right one for you.
I know this post is a little dated but if you haven't purchased a new bow yet maybe I can help.
Mallard is correct. Getting measured for draw length is your first step. There are some other things to consider but remember every bowhunter will have his or her own opinion. I personally would make sure you are comfortable with a bow in every possible shooting situation. Make sure you pull each bow to full fraw while sitting, kneeling, and standing. Another thing you will want to consider is the length of the bow from axle-to-axle. A shorter bow is much more condusive to stand hunting than a longer bow. Draw weight is also important. Too many bowhunters base the amount of weight they are comfortable with while standing. What I like to do is kneel on the ground and attempt to pull to full draw. If you can pull to full draw with ease while kneeling that should be a safe draw weight. Don't get too caught up on speed. A bow that shoots 250 fps will be just as effective as a bow that shoots at 320 fps (unless you are after elk, moose, or any larger big game, in which case you may want a little faster bow).
For the most part, the majority of choosing a bow is personal preference and your $300-$500 is more than plenty. I would make sure to stay closer to the $300 and use the remainder of your funds to get a quality rest, peep sight and good fiber optic sights. Consider using a high quality release as well.
Just remember to practice a lot and until you have some experience make sure somebody with some experience tunes your bow. If you plan on tree-stand hunting make sure to practice from a tree as well.
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