Here are the most recognizable moments of bowhunting in the movies.
Guns are the go-to weapon for most hunters, but bowhunting still remains a steadfast tradition for many outdoorsman. Movies and TV shows will sometimes portray bowhunting to highlight the skill and concentration one needs to make a bow kill. We focused on a few choice examples below.
While there are several infamous archers like Legolas, Hawkeye, and Robin Hood in war films, in this article we focused on scenes specifically involving the hunting of animals.
Hunger Games (2012)
This movie is credited with attracting a whole new generation of female archers to the sports, so we’d hate to remove it from this list. Katniss Everdeen, the protagonist of the film, is shown in an opening scene using her archery skills to stalk and hunt a deer. She used a variety of techniques, including testing the wind direction, trying to stay downwind of her prey, and attempting to draw the deer out in the open for a clear shot. The rest of the series displays a love triangle between Katniss, a boy named Peeta, and her longtime friend Gale, but it’s a mystery why she still even tolerates Gale after he intentionally spoils her shot at the deer – which could feed her family – and thinks it’s hilarious.
If Hunger Games or Lord of the Rings was the current generation’s introduction to archery, Deliverance may have been the same for the Baby Boomers. In this scene, which may strike a chord with preppers, the character Lewis Medlock discusses his belief that society will break down, and only knowledgeable survivalists will come out ahead. He punctuates his point by spearing a fish using a bowfishing rig on only his second try. Later in the film, Lewis will be forced to use his bow against some attacking hillbillies to devastating effect.
In this thriller, Hanna is a highly capable young girl trained in methods of combat and survival by her former-CIA father figure. But before the audience is even aware of that, we are treated to a scene where she stalks and kills a caribou with a crude bow. As the first scene of the movie, it shows off the character’s patience, stealth, and precision, qualities any bowhunter can admire. After striking the animal, she forgoes following a blood trail to instead run down the animal as it begins to falter. She also expresses regret at not securing as clean of a kill as she wanted, having just missed the heart. In a sudden departure from bowhunting, she then finishes off the animal with a gunshot.
Although he never gets to attempt a shot on the deer he is stalking, William Wallace displays some timeless bowhunting skills in this scene, namely the ability to approach a deer on even ground. It’s his focus on his quarry that supposedly allows an assassin to make an attempt on his life, before he is saved by a fellow warrior. There seems to be a slight continuity error where Wallace approaches the deer with an arrow nocked, then appears to be taking out or fumbling with another, which any experienced bowhunter would know would risk frightening the deer and spoiling his chances. There’s also some expected suspension of disbelief in how he can approach a deer in a quiet wood but not hear two men approaching him from either side.
The Walking Dead (TV series)
Daryl Dixon is one of the most capable characters on the popular zombie show, which has made him a favorite among fans. Unlike his fellow survivors who rely on guns to defend against zombies, Daryl instead prefer his trusty crossbow, and will frequently retrieve and reuse bolts. In one episode, Daryl goes to a trip in the woods and is scene taking down squirrels with deadly accuracy, even pinning them to the side of a tree for easy retrieval. He then eats the squirrel – raw.
Dances With Wolves (1990)
One of the most awe-inspiring scenes of this epic Western is a buffalo hunt by the Sioux tribe, accompanied by main character John J. Dunbar. While Dunbar hunts bison with a rifle, there are some great shots of Sioux taking down the huge animals with nothing more than their bow and arrows. The scene is an incredible reflection of the danger and thrill of hunting bison, a sight which most modern audiences would’ve otherwise never been able to see. Adding the the power of the scene is the fact that it was shot somewhat for real – Indian stunt riders were taught how to shoot rubber-tipped arrows at the animals from horseback. However, no bison were actually killed.
While movies continue to get more and more high-tech, they will likely continue to be fascinated with the timeless tradition of bowhunting. Be sure to check out this real-life footage of some thrilling bowhunting, or learn how to be as accurate with a bow as your movie idols.
What are some of your favorite bowhunting or archery scenes in movies? Tell us in the comments!