The majority of the time I spend my hunting season with a bow in my hand and we have a love-hate relationship.
I’ll never forget last month when I first introduced three of my buddies to archery. My friend Dave never quit smiling when we left Lancaster Archery with his new bow. I took them back to my house in Pennsylvania, shot our bows, cooked them up some venison and threw back a few cold ones.
As I film nearly everything I do for my YouTube Channel, I got the camera out. Dave, still smiling, I turned the microphone on and said, “Hey guys, what do you think about archery and are you excited to hunt with a bow this year?”
Dave, nearing 30 years of age, replies, “Dude, I can’t stop smiling. I feel like a little kid but this is so much fun.” My other two buddies, Neil and Dean, followed with their excitement level and how great it felt to shoot in my mini archery range set up in my back yard.
Moments later, Neil sent an arrow flying past the target. It missed the backstop, missed the dirt, skimmed the fence, then skipped off a rock and broke into pieces.
“Well there goes six bucks.” Neil grunted.
I laughed and replied, “If that’s the worst of your frustrations this year buddy, you will be one happy man.”
Bowhunting has many ups and downs, as does hunting in general. But with bowhunting, there is a different level of excitement and anger. Newton’s third law states that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. This is similar to my relationship with bowhunting. For everything that I love about bowhunting, I hate about bowhunting.
1. The distance challenge.
The reason you will find me with a bow in my hand 90 percent of the time is the challenge it brings. I compare hunting with a bow vs. hunting with a gun like golfing. I can play the same golf course with brand new, long distance clubs or I can play with no driver and a seven iron and putter only. The course remains the same, the challenge is greater in the two club venture.
When I’m bowhunting, I love making that deer have to come in close range. I love the way my body feels and how loud my heart pumps when I thumb my release and the arrow chests a hit list buck. There is nothing like it.
My hatred, well let that same hit list buck walk just outside of my comfortable range but well within gun range. I’m not a show off by any means but the amount of trophy bucks that have walked within gun range of me way surpass the amount of bucks that I have come within bow range. For that, bowhunting, I cringe, even though I still love it.
2. The little errors make for big mistakes.
Much like my buddy Neil, I’ve lost an arrow a time or two before and made many mistakes. I’ve been shooting a bow since I was 6 years old and bought my first bow for $96.18 when I turned 12. I’ll never forget it because I saved up my birthday money to buy it. I shot fiberglass arrows with steel pins and a 25-pound draw weight. It was a Golden Eagle Brave and it was my first love.
Well, it was my first love and hate. Before this bow I was a small game hunter with my father’s .22 LR and my pellet gun. The first weekend I got this bow there was a rabbit in my yard. In season, anxious, and always dead accurate with the .22, I figured, how could this be any different. I still don’t know what I did wrong, but I missed the rabbit.
I’ve also missed several deer in the past years and made some non-lethal shots as well. What I learned is although it’s a great feeling to be accurate, the little mistakes make for big errors. Not coming to my anchor point, gripping the bow too tight, flinching on the release, you name it. Bowhunting has it’s rewards but when you compare it to a rifle, it’s almost as though you have to talk to yourself more. You have to remember many more steps than just pulling up, aligning the cross airs and pulling a trigger.
3. Every bow isn’t for everybody.
Now I know I have been comparing bowhunting with gun hunting quite a bit but there is something to be said when you fit your bow to you. More times than not, when you get your bow set up, it’s unique. The bow just feels good and fits you like a glove. The best part, when your buddies want to borrow it, there’s a good chance it won’t be set up to them so it’s an easy escape from conversation.
The flip side, losing your luggage or something happening to your bow that puts a damper in your season. For example, if an airline company loses your bow as you arrive in Missouri, you become all time cameraman. You can’t just pick up your partners bow and use his. He shoots a 27.5″ draw length and you shoot a 29″ draw length. Does it sound like I speak from experience?
4. Patience, patience.
I could speak forever in this category but the main thing to come from bowhunting is my ability to adapt. I’ve grown to love bowhunting because it makes me a better hunter overall and makes me have to remind myself to be patient. I love that I have to be more patient. It’s become second nature and one thing is for sure, if it was quick and easy, I would only spend about four days hunting a year instead of eight weeks total. I get to challenge myself in making sure I have the right set up and shot to ensure the proper time to draw back on a deer. If unsuccessful, I’m the glass half full kind of guy and I look forward to coming back the next day.
It’s the having to be patient that gets me sometimes. I’m not at full draw and I want to be. Maybe I’ll grunt. Maybe I’ll be one of those guys on public land and rattle for the next fifteen minutes. I cook everything on high when I’m using the grill and stove top. This may give you a hint as to how hard it can be for me to be patient waiting for a grazing deer to come within range. Several times I get caught trying to draw my bow, because of impatience. Not setting on my anchor point and thumbing my release, that’s because I am impatient. I hate it, but I love it.
When it comes to bowhunting there’s no doubt that overall it can be a challenge. Even though I may mention I hate parts of bowhunting, the truth is everything that I said I hate, is the reason I love it. If you are new to the sport get ready for some of the most exciting and heartbreaking times of your life. If you have been doing this for years and can relate, well, let’s saddle up because it’s almost hunting season and we have another notch on the belt to add.