Thoughts On Bow Hunting

Al McNeil, also known around here as “Alleghany Al” sent me an interesting post in response to my article about Obtaining Crossbow Hunting Certification Online
Al is an accomplished outdoors guy, hunter, both with firearms and as a bow hunter, fisherman and ATV enthusiast as well as being an ardent cottager who is famous for his campfires. Here is Al’s post:

Thoughts On Bow Hunting by Al McNeil

Interesting post today on Crossbows and Hunting. I was mildly surprised that a person can get a Crossbow Hunting Certificate on the Internet and even more surprised that you are interested in Crossbow hunting. I bow hunted for 12 years in the 80’s and 90’s. Loved it. My bow hunting buddy moved away and I lost interest in driving around the province by myself.

Bow Hunting Courses Are Valuable

By taking the crossbow hunting course online a person loses out on the experience of meeting and talking to seasoned bow hunters who usually put the courses on.

The stories they tell make you want to run into the woods and start bow hunting right away. They show and tell the practical side of bow safety with stories from their many years of handling bows.

(Here is a picture of Al following a recent successful deer hunting trip)

My bow hunting course also included shooting the arrows at target deer and a real blood tracking exercise in the woods, which was invaluable to anyone unfamiliar with tracking wounded game.

One of the instructors showed a half hour of edited Super 8 movies, (that was a few years ago) he and his friends had made, hunting and shooting deer with bows. That will get your blood boilling. That was before all the Saturday morning hunting shows that are now on television.

Bow Hunting Safety

I appreciate the time and effort you put on talking SAFETY. Bow hunting can be dangerous if hunters do not treat their bow equipment with care.

Broadheads can nick strings while loading. This can cause a string failure and the disaster that follows could cause serious injury. Maintain your string.

Broadheads are extremely sharp, if they are not sharp you should not be hunting with them. If you can shave with the broadhead it is good enough to hunt with.

I can remember sitting around camp telling hunting storys and noticing the hairless forearms of the bow hunters. They had tested their broadheads by shaving patches of their arms. Broadheads that sharp will cause serious cuts and injuries if you accidentally poke someone or yourself.

Fall Restraint Systems Are Important

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of using a fall arrest system when you are hunting from a tree stand. A proper, fitted, well designed fall restaint system is a neccessity if using a treestand. I have firsthand experience in the importance of a proper fall arrest system.
Several years ago, while on a deer hunting trip, my hunting buddy fell while getting out of his treestand. We had made our own fall restraint harnesses, he was wearing his and it stopped him from falling to the ground. However….His weight caused the chest part of the harness to tighten and cause breathing problems. He was lucky that I was not far away and heard his calls for help.

I learned that day that it is extremely difficult to safely get someone out of a harness when they are dangling in the air. I had to cut the straps and let him fall 6 feet. We were lucky, it was a close call.

Whenever you are hunting from a treestand you should have an appropriate fall arrest system, fall safety harness and test it while you have a buddy with you. In addition, you need to develop, plan and practice a fall recovery plan, so that you are able to get yourself back in the tree or back on the ground safely if you are alone.

Types of Bows

Recurve Bow

By the way there are more kinds of bows. Long bows, recurve bows and compound bows. These were the main bows used when I started to bow hunt. I used a compound bow that used cams. Loved it. Compound bows allow you to hold the arrow at full draw with only a portion of the draw weight, for example, my compound bow had a 50lb draw weight but at full draw I was only holding about 30 lbs, which is a lot easier to hold and get on target, especially if you are in a tree stand.

Robin Hood

Compound Bow

I didn’t have much experience with Long Bows or Recurve Bows but I do like their simplicity which gives them a sleek, “Robin Hood” look. My friend build his own recurve, it was pleasing to look at and after 8 years of bowhunting with a compound bow he bagged his first bow shot deer with his home made recurve. An exciting experience that is hard to replicate with any other form of hunting.

Building your own bow and then using it to successfully bag a whitetail deer is the full meal deal, the mark of a true hunter/sportsman.

Most of the deer I shot with a rifle were at distances greater than 50 yards. The moose was close but bushes were in the way. And although my heart was pounding staring through the gun sights at that moose, the feeling was always much more intense when bow hunting.

There is a delicious anticipation, waiting for the deer to come in close enough for a good shot, or crawling on your belly (I was smaller in those days) to get close.

The best part of bow hunting was that I was always closer to the deer than when I was hunting with a rifle. See the deer, shoot it with the rifle. However with the bow I was always trying to cut the distance down to under 30 yards, the magic distance that I was comfortable shooting.

Getting close meant 30 yards open, no trees, no bushes, no branches. Especially above your line of sight because the arrow will arc up before dropping back down to hit the target.(damn that Newton fellow) Determining how much arc require lots of practice.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Practice, practice, practice from every possible shooting position cause them deer show up when you least expect it.

New bowhunters, for that matter, all bow hunters, should practice shooting from a tree stand. It requires a lot of skill to be good at this. Not only determinig the distance but also allowing for shooting down, with not as much arc. I always put markers out from the tree at known distances so that I would not have to guess the distance.

The best part of the experience of bow hunting for deer was not shooting the deer, it was great watching the deer in their natural environment, unaware of my presence.

See Interesting Things

You see them do some really interesting things if you stay at it long enough. I have seen them jump in the air, run in circles, and have had young deer walk up to my out stretched hand, run past me literally 2 feet away in a snow storm, lay down feet from a tree that I had my tree stand in while I was still in the stand.

That’s not to say I didn’t see those types of behaviours when rifle hunting for deer, but while bow hunting I was assured of seeing more.

If you take up Bow Hunting you will enjoy the deer more but most likely eat less.

Maybe it’s time to dust off my bow again.

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