Bow or Boom Stick?

An interesting debate on our Facebook page inspired me to write this blog (mostly because I couldn’t fit everything I wanted to in the ‘comment’ response). Now let me preface this blog by saying that there is no judgment on anyone who hunts with rifles only, this is just my opinion and experiences as to why I prefer one over the other. Kudos to anyone, especially women and children, who pick up any weapon and get out there to get it done! Now before I go back to my ‘Don’t Hate…Congratulate’ speech I will move on with the true topic.

 

It is becoming an extremely popular debate (one that doesn’t necessarily have a real ‘winner’) between hunting with a rifle…aka boom stick…or with a bow. Obviously if you have been reading any of my other blogs you probably already know I prefer to hunt with a compound bow, but let me rewind to when I first started hunting and how I fell in love with the bow. Like most bow hunters I did not pick up a bow first. My husband decided to take me rifle hunting for whitetail which I did for about 4 years with great success and I loved it. However, 5 years ago a good friend of ours peaked our interest in bow hunting and I have never looked back and here is why.

 

When I pick up my bow I know that it is mine; every little detail is tweaked and tuned to me. The draw length and weight are specific to me, the peep sight is based on my unique anchor point, the colored accents are my choice, the arrow fletching are a reflection of my personality, the grip fits my hand the best, the release is the perfect length for my fingers…everything is mine. It is very rare that someone else can pick up another hunters bow and be able to shoot it accurately (and very rare that any hunter would let anyone even attempt to draw back their bow or shoot it haha). There is so much work, hours upon hours of shooting and tuning, adjusting your sights, adjusting your stance, anchor point, draw etc to finally get YOUR bow perfect. There is a sense of accomplishment when you can walk outside, pick up your bow cold and shoot consistently at the target.

 

Then there is the preparation of the hunt; picking out that perfect stand after researching the land, the wind, the deer activity before you can attempt to climb into a stand (there is much more to picking out the perfect bow stand that we will discuss another time). When you finally do climb into your bow stand or bow blind there is a magical feeling. Everything has to be right (or at least close)…the wind, the weather, the moon, your scent, the noise, the movement, or lack of movement, the distance between you and the animal before you even have a chance to make a shot. Then the right animal has to come into range….depending on where you are hunting it can’t just be any animal. Age, antler restrictions, size, season, species, gender, and personal preference are all decided in a split second when that animal makes an appearance because you only have a small window before that opportunity for a kill shot is gone.

 

With bow hunting you are in their backyard, their home, their feeding ground. You are the intruder, the burglar sneaking into their house, hoping everything goes right and you don’t get busted. One of the best parts of bow hunting takes me back to my ‘Aquarium Effect’ blog about being so close. As you watch that animal come in range you can see, smell & hear everything about that animal. Long distance rifle hunting will not ignite all your senses the way being up close and personal while bow hunting will. The whiskers on their chin, the cold breath on a wintery day, the discoloration of their hocks during rut, the smell of hogs in your path, the grunting of something unknown in the brush, the soft bleet of a fawn or the loud grunt of a buck so close you begin to shake.

 

So now you have an animal closing in on your bow range and you have made the decision to harvest it and the best part of bow hunting is that ANY legal animal taken with a bow is a trophy because the bow hunting community knows the difficulty and the dedication it takes to harvest an animal. As the animal nears a battle inside my body and mind begins.

 

My heart starts beating so fast, so loud I worry the animal can hear it. My hands start sweating, but wait I can’t have sweaty hands trying to hold my bow. I reach down and slowly and quietly wipe them on my pant leg or shirt. My breathing intensifies or sometimes I stop breathing for a moment. My body is getting harder and harder to control as the animal creeps closer. My arrow is knocked, my release is attached, stand still, hold on a little longer, stop shaking, focus. What is the range, which pin, lift my bow, slooowwwwllly draw back with every bit of adrenaline rushing through my body but my mind is trying to focus, slow down, breathe deep, focus…focus…calm. Please don’t step left or right, don’t turn around, im already drawn, don’t spook, no noise, no noise. Please wind don’t shift, please stand don’t creak, please heart stop beating so loud!!!! As I hit my anchor point and slowly lower the pin onto the perfect shot placement of the animal, I release the trigger and watch my arrow fly. With the impact of the arrow my entire body goes numb and as I watch the animal run, walk or slowly trot off all of my built up adrenaline rushes to every possible part of my body that can express it. My hands shake so feverishly I wonder how I was even able to draw my bow back to begin with, my sweaty hands turn cold, my eyes water with tears of excitement, my lips are quivering, my heart still pounding in my throat now. Now pay attention…where did the animal run, replay the shot in my mind, look for my arrow, the animal, my sanity because I am completely in a state of bliss, euphoria, and madness. After the appropriate amount of waiting time, I compose myself and climb down or out of my blind and set out to retrieve my animal.

 

The recovery begins and its when it all comes together. As I pick up arrow and examine the blood for what kind of shot I made I trail the blood to find my animal (occasionally they are in sight and trailing isn’t necessary). There lying on the ground is everything. My bow, hours of shooting, the elements of God working together, my tears, my sweaty hands, my frustrations of unsuccessful hunts, my heart, my passion and my excitement. As I reach down and touch that beautiful creature it is more than a kill, it is an achievement and feeling that I never felt with rifle hunting; that I never knew existed until I picked up a bow.

 

So why do I prefer bow hunting over rifle hunting? Because as I look down at my laptop I realize my hands are as sweaty and my eyes are starting to water because just writing about the feeling I have when bow hunting excites my mind and body more than anything. I do still enjoy rifle hunting, I prefer long range shooting to increase the challenge, but 2 years ago I missed on an 8 pt buck (major buck fever) and I promised myself I wouldn’t willingly pick up a rifle to hunt whitetail until I got my first buck with a bow; I did get a 3 pt this year so technically I am relieved of that pact, but as of right now I still can’t pry my hand off the grip of the bow, remove my release and pick up a rifle just yet. To prove my point I just wrote about you should know that as I mentioned I have not taken a big whitetail buck nor had any opportunities to hunt big game. All of my kills have been hogs, does, and small bucks with a bow and I still have the excitement I just described. Please know that this excitement is still there even on the misses and those mistakes have made my passion stronger to overcome the obstacles and challenge myself to do better.

 

To each their own when it comes to weapon of choice, but I would encourage anyone to give bow hunting a try and I promise you will never regret it. I tried to describe it the best I could but just as someone tries to describe feelings of something spectacular to someone else there are no true words…it is an experience all its own.
Candace

Nov 15, 2012 | Category: Blog | Comments: none

 

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