4 reasons to bow hunt vs. using a hunting rifle
Bow hunting is becoming a more popular way of hunting for several reasons, including the level of skill it requires
Editor’s Note: The following column was part of our TacticaList series, a collection of expert columns and features on all things tactical — from fishing and hunting to camping and shooting, and pertains to a broad audience of law enforcement, military, sport shooters, hunters, and beyond.
By TacticaList Staff
Bow hunting versus hunting with a firearm is a matter of preference (and frankly, many well-rounded hunters prefer both methods). According to a 2011 study funded by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, 33 percent of the 13 million Americans who hunt have used a bow — and its popularity has grown in recent years.
We gathered answers from Quora among other resources to answer the question: Why choose a bow to hunt over a firearm?
1. In many regions, bow season is longer and more plentiful
John Lilja answered:
“In Minnesota, deer hunting season is several months long if you hunt with a bow, while the gun season is only two weekends.
“I’d rather have the bow if the deer was my only meat for the year.”
According to bowhunter-ed.com, a national survey revealed that 24 percent of those who claimed they hunt with a bow cited the longer season as their top reason, and 11 percent said it was because bow season had an earlier start.
Bow season also tends to occur at a time of year when game is more plentiful than it is during muzzle loader and rifle season.
2. A bow strengthens different skills
Michael Bertsch answered:
“A bow and arrow is preferable to a gun when the shooter wants some good exercise while satisfying the urge to improve one’s target-directed motor skills.”
In same survey as noted above, the top response — 58 percent — hunters gave as the reason they preferred a bow and arrow over a gun was the challenge bow hunting provides.
Despite the fact that today’s modern bows can shoot arrows up to 400 yards and at speeds exceeding 200 mph, the bow is a short-range hunting tool, ideal for a distance of 30 to 40 yards, if not closer. The ability to maintain your composure and your target at that close of a range requires skill, which often makes a kill feel like a greater accomplishment than when it is done with a hunting rifle.
3. Nothing’s more quiet than a bow
Lance Sheldon answered:
“When you’re on a stealth mission, because even the best silencers are still loud compared to the relatively silent twang of loosing an arrow from a bow; there is also no muzzle flash, which is generally what gives away snipers.”
Camouflaged, crouched down, and blending in with nature, the swift silence of a bow and arrow doesn’t disrupt the creatures around you the way echoing gunfire does.
4. Even the playing field
Jamie Page answered:
“If you are talking about legally hunting an animal, a bow and arrow would be preferable to a gun if you believe in giving the animal a fair chance at survival.
“Using a bow pits user hunting skills [against] animal instinct. Using a rifle at distance takes away the animal’s skill at survival…
“[For] example, shooting a deer at a hundred and fifty yards with a rifle and scope versus shooting a deer at 15 yards with a bow is a much different hunt.
The bow method requires more skill on the hunter’s part and in I my humble opinion, is the fair way to hunt game.”