Bowfishing for Paddlefish Blends Hunting and Fishing

What do bowhunters do in the off-season?

For many bowhunters, there really is no off-season. Just that time between January and September when we're thinking about hunting, preparing for hunting, target shooting, watching hunting videos and waiting on the mail to bring our tags for Fall. And while slinging practice arrows is a great stress reliever, and a good way to stay sharp, sometimes those foam targets just don't quite cut it. So what do you do bowhunters do in the off-season? Bowfishing, of course!

The perfect blend of two of our favorite pastimes, bowfishing is just what it sounds like. Fishing while using hunting equipment. It's a beautiful thing.

A staple for many hunters and anglers alike, bowfishing is a great way to scratch that off-season itch. On the Missouri River boundary waters between Nebraska and South Dakota, June weekends are flooded with bowfishers looking to punch a tag. Their target? A prehistoric looking beast better known as a Spoonbill Paddlefish.

Paddlefish are one of the largest fresh water species in North America. Many can grow as long as five feet long and weigh well into the 50-60 lbs range. The largest recorded American paddlefish was taken in Kansas and weighed 144 lbs.

These odd-looking beasts provide quick shot opportunities as they briefly surface. If the time of day is right and there's minimal traffic, a patient bowfisher may also catch glimpse of giant shadows below the surface. These shadows provide for a much more hunting-like target.

As primarily a deer hunter, the most difficult thing I struggle with is the slap shot technique. Aiming at a large area where you believe the fish may be moving towards. Those waiting for the perfect shot and a cooperative target are in for a long day on the water. If you can get past that, bowfishing for paddlefish offers the perfect June distraction for hunters.

Like what you see here? If so, click here to read more great hunting, outdoor, and shooting articles by Reid Vander Veen. Also, check him out on Twitter @TreeStandDiaries and on Instagram.