As with anything in life, there’s a right and wrong way to do things. Here’s how to go about bowhunting the wrong way.
Bowhunting is sexy. Some of the most well-known names in pop-culture haven taken to the activity and routinely proclaim its benefits from the highest rooftop. At no point in modern history has it been as “cool” to take a bow into the woods as it is now. The increased popularity is not without benefit – we’ve seen the archery industry make tremendous technological strides, there’s no shortage of content to view on YouTube (though I have some thoughts on that, too) and more folks are paying attention to what’s happening to our lands and wildlife.
But, as is natural, the more people we have in a community the greater the number of bad apples in that community. That’s not to say all of these “bad apples” have malicious intent. Rather, it may be a result of ignorance, poor mentorship or a combination of those (and other) factors. At any rate, I’m going to list the most common offenses and how to avoid them. If any of these items strike a chord with you…good.
- Leaving your bow in its case until a week before the season opener. Don’t ever be this person. If you’re going to take a bow into the woods, you damn sure better know how to use it. At the very least, you should understand the basic fundamentals of tuning (i.e. broadheads fly differently than field points), the capabilities of you and your bow (if you don’t practice shooting all year and attempt a long shot in the field, you’re a piece of shit), and basic bow maintenance. If you have the opportunity, spend some time at local archery shoots. I don’t mind if you routinely masturbate to Nock-On videos, but they’re no substitute for actually shooting your bow.
- Thinking money = success. So, you just got done watching a 5’6″ hunting influencer make a 110 yard shot with a 90 lb. bow. Or, maybe you just saw an Instagram post about the latest carbon bow and now your third leg is starting to levitate. You’re beginning to think, “man, if I had their equipment I’d be just as good.” A couple of things: 1) most of these influencers aren’t as good as you think and 2) more expensive equipment isn’t necessarily going to make you a better shot. Levi Morgan could take a shitty bow from 2005 and out-shoot 99.9% of the people in the archery community. Again, there’s no substitute for shooting your bow. The more you practice, the more you’ll discover about what equipment is going to work for you.
- Looking for shortcuts. You did it. You got done listening to Joe Rogan talk about elk meat and you ordered a bow. Now what? First, reference the first two bullet points and shoot your bow. Secondly, get your ass into the field and start scouting. We’ve all received some tips here and there, but if you hop on Facebook and type, “I’m not looking for specific spots, just a general direction,” you suck. Get out there. Put in the miles. If someone offers to help you, great. But, they’ll be more inclined to help you if they know you’re out there busting your ass anyway.
- Opening your fat mouth. You’ve put in some effort and a local has noticed. They provide you with a little information as to where to go. You decide to tell everyone about that information. Fuck you. Or, you’re hanging around the archery shop and overhear someone talking about where they killed their deer. You decide to spread that information to others. Fuck you again. Or, OR, you tag your location on social media when you’re in the woods and let the whole world know about the elk herd that just moved in. Fuck you with your own broadhead.
- Walking into the woods without a plan. If you watch a dozen gear dump videos, hike 5 miles into the backcountry and somehow shoot an elk – but don’t have a clue how you’re going to field dress the animal, preserve the meat and haul everything out (this includes not having the physical ability to do these things), I want you to immediately sell your shit on eBay and never hunt again. Killing big game miles deep into rough terrain is not the same as shooting a doe whitetail off a feed plot and loading it onto your ATV. You are not Luke Bryan, nor do you have a team of paid lackeys to haul your animal out for you.
Look, we’re not born with this knowledge. If you’re like me and picked up bowhunting as an adult, you may not have had someone to help guide you along. Nobody is going to fault you for not knowing what you don’t know (if they do, they’re an asshole). The main thing here is a willingness to learn and a healthy respect for the activity. Bowhunting is fun. It is enjoyable. It is rewarding. I, and many others, really do enjoy being around other bowhunters. We just don’t like dealing with the shitty ones.
Do you have questions about bowhunting and want an honest answer? Comments? Send an email to email@example.com and we’ll (maybe) get back to you.