A bow and a rifle. Anyone who has spent time on a hunt is familiar with one of these tools, or even both. But what makes a hunter choose one over the other? Well, there are benefits to both, and each one brings a dramatically different experience to the field. Let’s take a little time to go over the ups and downs of each one.
Bow hunting requires a lot of the hunter. It takes a huge amount of skill, loads of time and patience, practice on the range and in the field, and a lot of perseverance. The payoff? The sheer thrill and love of a challenge. Maybe ‘glory’ would be too strong of a word, but it’s pretty close. There’s a lot of preparation in a bow hunt. Tracking, setting up, and making that sweet shot that bags your prey can feel amazing when it all goes as planned. Bow hunting requires a much larger investment of time, and a much more nimble and skilled hunter. To get the kill shot, a bow hunter has to stalk or set up much closer to the animal than with rifle hunting.
As another substantial benefit, bow hunting season is much longer, and starts much earlier than firearm hunting. This allows a bow hunter to get out into the field before you have the majority (namely gun hunters) to contend with. This can make for some exceptional hunting opportunities, as the loud rapport of rifle fire can put the animals on edge, making it a lot harder for everyone.
The negatives are a lot similar to the advantages, frankly. Being a bow hunter takes up a lot more of your time, and many hunters just don’t have that in their busy lives. Also, bow hunting can be exceptionally frustrating. Missing your shot on a gorgeous buck because of a miscalculated shot can feel awful, and many hunters just don’t want to deal with the risk.
The upsides of firearms are pretty easy to see. The power and range a rifle provides is simply superior. A bow hunter would be hard-pressed to peg a target exceeding that forty yard sweet spot, where a rifle is going to pop the same target at double the range, and is likely to get the kill shot most of the time.
Another point in the favor of a gun is the opposite of the bow. Time. There is no doubting there are some exceptionally skilled hunters toting a rifle in the field, but it’s a heck of a lot easier to become a good shot with a rifle than it is with a bow. Hunters looking to bag kills with the smallest time investment are primarily going to turn to powder and lead.
The shorter hunting season can lead to a seriously crowded area in a hurry. Gun hunters have often experienced the frustration of tripping over twenty plus bright orange vests and never even catching scent of a deer over the course of days.
Many hunters swear by one of these methods over the other; but just as many hunters do both, and enjoy the unique benefits and challenges each one brings to the trip. We would encourage those looking for a greater challenge, or those just getting into hunting to pick up a bow. It’s an investment in time and money, but the payoff can be the most rewarding experience you’ve ever had on a hunt.