5 Big Challenges of Bowhunting…and how to overcome them.

Posted by on Jan 30, 2013 in Hunting | 0 comments

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Tall-tined Blacktail on the Pacific Coast

Tall-tined Blacktail on the Pacific Coast

When I entered the world of bowhunting as a 40 year-old, I thought it was going to be easier than it was. I admit, part of my challenge is where I hunt, how I hunt, and for what I hunt. Although I have a decent resume of animals I have taken with a bow, none have been from a treestand, none have been on guided hunts, and none have been on private property. Don’t get me wrong, I have absolutely nothing against guided hunts or taking animals from trees; I am all for it and I want to do it! But the fact is, I was simply not afforded the opportunity. So I had to learn by trial and error as I taught myself the ins and outs of bowhunting public forests and mountains. Let it be clear, I am still learning every time I enter the woods. Here are 5 big challenges of hunting with a bow, in no particular order.

1. Killing an animal. I am referring to what it takes to accomplish the actual demise of the animal, and not to your personal convictions or ethical considerations regarding the taking of an animal’s life with a bow and arrow. I know from experience that an arrow powered by a compound or traditional bow is a very effective killing tool, but let’s face it; you have to be pickier about shot placement, timing, and the angle of the shot. By nature of the speed and the eventual bluntness of a bullet, it will break through larger bones, leave shrapnel of bones, and better shock the animal because of its explosive nature. Because an arrow does NOT have these characteristics, surgical precision is sometimes required.

2. Physical fitness required. We have all seen big guys take animals on TV. But grossly out of shape individuals will have a difficult time traversing steep mountains in search of elk, hiking miles through snow in search of a forestland whitetail, or as is on my bucket list, climbing rocky slopes to reach goats and sheep. It doesn’t take much energy or a high fitness level to climb into a stand or crawl into a ground blind, but if you want a more exciting adventure, more exercise is a must. It may sound obvious enough, but you must to be able to draw your bow, even after lugging a backpack uphill all day. On one occasion, I found myself literally in the middle of an elk herd waiting for the big boss to pull up the rear. I was caught behind a log, laying flat on my back with my bow on my belly when go-time arrived. Try drawing smoothly while in that position! I couldn’t, and was busted because of it.

3. Getting enough (serious) practice. This is conjunction with #2 in that you have to keep your shooting mechanics tight. Daily, serious practice should begin at least a month before a hunt. Because the act of drawing and steadying a shot with a bow is quite involved and not typical of our everyday movement, good practice is paramount. When I get serious, I only practice with broadheads, because the release and flight feel different than field tips. Also, I only practice with one arrow at a time, to eliminate the subconscious that is constantly looking for excuses. “Well, I have another arrow right here, and I’ll just shoot this one better.” Just like in real-life hunting situations, you only get one shot. Make it count. Games are fun in June and July, but once August rolls around, your practice should duplicate real hunting scenarios as closely as possible.

4. Not stinking. I’m not talking about your abilities here, although that’s an obvious. I’m talking about scent control. Because you have to be generally less than 40 yards away, most animals you will be hunting have olfactory senses far superior to humans. There have always been, and probably always will be those who think scent control products are a joke. I can’t prove to you when an animal can’t smell me, but my philosophy has always been to try and do everything possible to succeed. The statement “scent killers may help…” is plenty good enough for me.

5. Working the wind. Because we stink, wind control is a must. Since we cannot control the direction of the wind, we must control the direction of ourselves and therefore the scent that wafts from us. The same goes with sound. At 200 yards, we can step on pine cones all day long. At 20 yards, breaking a pine needle is enough to startle a deer or an elk, if the wind is wrong. Getting it right is not always easy, especially when hunting in the mountains, where micro climates seem to crop up and vary on an hourly basis. Carry a small bottle of non-scented wind-detection powder. Blow it up into the air as high as you can, and watch closely what it does all the way to the ground. And check often, as a hundred yards may make a big difference, depending on topography, vegetation, and geological formations.

NEXT POST:  5 MORE Big Challenges with Bowhunting!


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