How To Get Started Bow Hunting











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How To Get Started Bow Hunting
By Dan Johnson

Is there a simpler way to hunt than using a stick, a string, and an arrow? Most people would agree with this method being one of the oldest and most basic. However, anyone that has ever gone into the woods trying to hunt with a bow and arrow will tell you that there is nothing simple or easy about it. The unmatched excitement, challenge, and reward of archery hunting will take hold of you and never let go.

I was fortunate enough to grow up in southern South Dakota right along the Missouri River where there were always large numbers of pheasants, ducks, deer, and plenty of space to go out for a day, and pursue the game of our choice. We spent most of our time pheasant hunting until I was around fourteen when my dad agreed he would take me to a bow hunting safety course so I could give bow hunting a try.  After my first year of archery hunting, I realized I was going to enjoy the outdoors in a completely new way.  Along with having had some of the most unique experiences in my life, I was hooked.  I have now spent more time walking to my tree stand than I have hunting pheasants. 

When you hear people talk about bow hunting, whether they have been doing it for years or are brand new to the sport, the question always comes up, “Where do you start?” Bow hunting is just like any outdoor sport.  It has so many options of products that you can spend a lot of money in a hurry…or you can start off using slightly experienced equipment and as your interest and knowledge grow, you can fine tune your needs.

If you are in a region where there is a bow hunting store, this a great resource to use as you are getting started. You will be able to ask many different questions and take a look at the large varieties of bow types and styles, as well as the different sizes they come in to help you find what will fit you the best. Most stores offer the opportunity for you to shoot a few arrows while you are trying to find your correct bow. There are a few measurements and anchor points that an employee will be able to help you find as well. The first measurement is your Draw-Length. This is the distance measured from where you hold your bow in the outstretched arm, to how far you need to pull your arrow back to reach full draw.  The store could also give you the correct length of arrows that you need to shoot. The spot that you determine to be a comfortable resting position, while allowing you to take aim, is known as your Anchor Point. Having the correct draw-length and anchor point are crucial for your enjoyment and success in the field.

The next decision to make is whether you want to use an archery release. A release attaches to the bow string at the nocking point (where the arrow connects with the string). They are most commonly used with a compound bow. There are many different styles of archery releases that a hunter can choose from that allow you to find the design that you are most comfortable with. I prefer to use a release that wraps around my hand near the wrist, with a short metal extension that connects to the nocking point and then uses a trigger to set the string loose. This allows me to pull back the bow string using more of the muscles in my arm and not solely relying on my fingers.  This definitely helps when you are at full draw, and waiting for a deer to take another step into your shooting lane giving you a clear shot. Another benefit of an archery release is the consistent way it will release the string each time, which can vary slightly from one shot to the next when shooting with your fingers.

However, I have met many people who are extremely accurate shooting their bow without the aid of an archery release and have had a great amount of success. In the end it all comes down to personal preference…what you are comfortable with.

Now that you have been through the trial and error of finding the correct bow for yourself, the next big question comes down to price. Price ranges for a bow can go from a few hundred dollars to around a thousand. Keep in mind that this does not include the price of arrows, a traveling case, and other equipment you may want. With the large variety of resources that are available to find equipment on the internet such as EBay and Craigslist, this opens up another opportunity for finding the necessary gear for Archery Hunting. Remember, keep in mind the local garage sales coming up in the warmer months.

Once you have found the best price of the bow and all the necessary accessories that you have been looking for, do you know any archery hunting techniques and how to locate the best place to put a stand? If you are new to deer hunting, or just hunting in general, the best advice that I can give you is to go on a guided hunt. Guided hunts with an experienced outfitter can not only be a great way to gain a vast amount of knowledge in a short time, but can also be an unbelievable experience.  Many outfitters spend years living on the property or near where the hunt is provided, thus knowing where the best locations and big game spend their time. 

Going on a guided hunt with someone with years of experience in archery hunting, gives you the opportunity to ask a number of different questions that you will have during the hunt. More than likely questions that do not come up while in a retail store, but rather in the heat of the moment pursuing wild game.   Answers to these questions increase your personal level of knowledge and experience to use in the future and apply while in the outdoors. Another great benefit of starting out archery hunting with a professional outfitter is to ensure that there is a true desire to get into the sport. This may be very important to discover for someone with little hunting experience, such as a young teenager. By going out with a professional, you can introduce archery to the teenager in an exciting and a successfully proven way. Giving him/her a chance to get exposure to the sport and find out if there is enthusiasm to continue.  This will save not only hard earned money, but also time doing something that you both enjoy, even though it may not be actual time spent archery hunting. To find your perfect hunt with the best outfitters in the country, visit HuntTheNorth.com.

There is no doubt that archery hunting is challenging, but it has a few great benefits when compared to hunting with a rifle or a shotgun. Safety being the first and most important benefit.  The range that a stray bullet will carry is much farther than that of an arrow. There is also no way for a shot to go off when you are not prepared, because you have to nock an arrow onto the bow sting, take time to pull it back, and then release the arrow. The chances of injuring someone accidentally by being shot with an arrow are much lower than that of a gun. Another great benefit is that the archery season in many states runs from the last days of September until either the last day of the year or a few weeks into January.  This season provides over three months to hunt, making it easier to work with a busy schedule in comparison to the rifle or shot gun season that usually lasts no longer than two weeks. The last and biggest reason I continue to bow hunt is the experience that you enjoy while waiting for an animal to come within bow range. Observing how they act in nature with no knowledge of anything being out of the ordinary is hard to describe.

My greatest experience was watching a 170 class whitetail buck only fifty yards away from me slowly moving toward me for over an hour and a half. While getting closer, he chased off smaller bucks who were interested in the does he had with him. He foraged around for food and showed interest in the does every now and then. To sit and watch firsthand how a large mature deer operates was incredible. Something which I never would have been able to see if I had been hunting with a gun at the time. I was eventually able to take a clear shot at this large deer but had misjudged my distance and the deer dropped just below the arrow as it was about to land. Which believe me was extremely frustrating at the time. But a unique experience nonetheless.  One that I will remember and have learned a great deal from.

I strongly urge you to take the time to look into archery hunting, even if you have a small bit of interest, you will not be disappointed. Archery hunting can give you some of the greatest hunting memories in just a few short months each fall with a stick, string, and an arrow!



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