4 Things That Make Bowhunting Special

Posted on July 7, 2015

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I’ll be honest. I miss the good ol’ days when bowhunting was considered pretty comical, hunting spots were incredibly plentiful, and deer permits were all about scraping up a few bucks and visiting a cash register. For the most part, these things are a page of the past.

However, bowhunting is still bowhunting, and enjoying it to its fullest really hasn’t changed a lick, at least this is something that occurred to me recently. I think the key behind all this is grasping the right mindset and never taking for granted our physical ability to hunt, to witness God’s creations in the wild, and to never erode the concept of fair chase. If any of these are subtracted from the hunting experience, it will become tainted.

As a benefit, by holding fast to this viewpoint, the idea of wishing” things were like the good ol’ days is less of an issue, too, which I think is critical for truly enjoying the sport more.

Here are four areas of bowhunting that really make it distinctive in my mind, and they are as much a part of my earlier bowhunting days as they are now, and some appear even a bit sweeter, as time and age have ripened their flavor.

Experiencing the Chase

During the course of the year, a hunter’s mind goes through real anticipation. After winter and early spring, he or she begins to envision how the hunt will go. This prompts getting more prepared. Thinking about the right clothing, optics, talking to other hunters about hunting spots/strategies, dialing in that bow setup…it all becomes a part of the chase. A few weeks from opening day, excitement begins to ramp up exponentially, as this same hunter knows that the moment of truth could be days away. It’s all super exciting and this phenomenon hasn’t changed a bit from 25 years ago to today.

Reaching for Skill

Speaking of hunting ability, consistently successful bowhunting requires extreme stealth, wise use of tactics, and a knack for making a good shot under pressure. None of these things are easy to achieve, and there’s always room for improvement. This prompts constant motivation to become a better stalker, ambusher, and shot. Bowhunting is about continual advancement in these areas. This keeps it fresh and special every year as we strive for maximum skill.

Maintaining Ethics and Fair Chase

Every year, more and more technology is finding its way into our sport. Some of it is useful in the right place, but, the way I see it, most of it is not so great for the sport, at least when you look at it from a pure, ethical, and highly challenging mindset. Technology works to replace skill, and eliminating too much skill impacts the idea of fair chase, and why we were drawn to the sport to begin with.

Of course, the “fix” to all this can be made on a personal level. Hunting laws must be obeyed (which happen to vary from state to state), but what about ethics? Ethics involve our moral conduct, basically—is it responsible, and is it fair?

The father of wildlife management, Aldo Leupold, said that “ethical behavior is doing the right thing when on one else is watching, even when doing the wrong thing is legal.”

I think Leupold had it right, and as a real sportsman or sportswoman, we should always consider his perspective when going afield…in order to safeguard the concept of real fair chase…for the challenge and good of the sport and for its future.

Bowhunting Brethren

Without good friends to discuss future hunting plans and prospects with, to rely on for safety and security, and to go afield with, bowhunting wouldn’t nearly be as enjoyable. In many ways, it’s a big part of why I love it so much. The right friends make the sport exciting, more meaningful, and allow a great connection between nature and the social realm. This, along with all the other things I’ve mentioned, have not changed in their context from when I began bowhunting some 25 years ago. It’s really hard to argue…bowhunting is special…always has been and always will be.

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