By Jeff Stirland
Pursuing North American big-game species is challenging, regardless of what method of hunting you are using. The ability to track, pattern, spot, and intercept a live and free animal involves so many variables, which explains why the odds are always against you. The dynamic characteristics of nature and the attitude of the hunter often attribute to the lack of success that many face in their adventures. The attitude that I am speaking of specifically is the idea that the majority of people are always looking for the easiest way to accomplish their goals. They will take shortcuts, make excuses, and will do just about anything in order to justify their means of fulfilling their ego rooted goals. Although this does not describe all hunters, their are sadly many who fall into this category.
The roots of hunting were not founded upon the ideas of instant gratification and self righteousness, but rather hard work and dedication. The modern hunter often prioritizes the kill over the process, which takes away from the significance of the hunt itself. The hunt is often defined as a chase, a pursuit, a passion, or an obsession. All of these are true. But, there is more to it than that. The hunt is adversity, pain, affliction, exhaustion, and defeat. In order to fully experience hunting in it’s true and free form, one must continue to push the boundaries of their own strengths and live outside of their comfort zone. For me and many others, this is where bowhunting comes into play.
The Challenges of Bowhunting
The limitations associated with bowhunting are much greater than the limitations considered while hunting with rifles or other guns. When bowhunting in timber or thicker areas, your effective range is limited to around 30-40 yards. That means that to consistently harvest animals, you either have to place your treestand within that effective range or be able to stalk to within that range.
But, to harvest mature animals, you must be able to get in to your effective range without making noise, and you must be able to control your scent meticulously. Then, as animals come within your effective range, you must be able to minimize movement while getting into position and drawing back to prevent being spotted. Bowhunting also limits the type of shots you can take, as ethical shots with a bow are either directly broadside, quartering away, or slightly quartering towards.
The mental aspect of bowhunting is also another major trial that you must overcome in order to be successful. The physical act of shooting a bow takes much more thought than taking a conventional shot with a rifle, and the shot process itself is something that can be mentally strenuous. Gripping the bow properly, anchoring in the right spots, squeezing off the shot, and following through are all thoughts that are racing through the mind of the bowhunter within seconds of taking the shot. Being able to control all of these processes at the same time is the skill that sets apart the lethal bowhunter from the unsuccessful bowhunter.
Reaping the Rewards
The image of reaping what you sow goes back to biblical times, but it still is relevant to life in the 21st century. In regards to bowhunting, you are purposefully making your hunt more of a challenge and putting your target animal on a more level playing field. The reward of harvesting an animal with archery equipment reflects the amount of hard-work, practice, and dedication that was necessary to become a lethal bowhunter. Any experienced and dedicated bowhunter would agree that the feeling you get from harvesting a mature animal with a bow is arguably unmatched by any other method of hunting. Until you experience this phenomenon first hand, you will not understand the immense honor and glory associated with bowhunting.
Just Try It
So for the person who is infatuated with hunting and experiencing big game animals in their natural habitat, bowhunting is something that is worth the time and effort. The person who wants to take their hunting game to the next level will experience growth when hunting with a bow, and will find themselves falling more in love with the animals they are pursuing as well as the hunt itself. Those who are looking for boundless challenges and adventures in the outdoors will absolutely love bowhunting, and will end up growing stronger and sharper from their pursuits. So if you were wondering why I am strictly a bowhunter, now you know. My God-given love for the chase is unmatched by anything else on this planet, and a passion for bowhunting runs through my veins.