I started this series with an article titled, “Why Bowhunting?” Now that you know why I started bowhunting, I thought we could starting going over some of the steps needed to get you actually harvesting game.
So you decided to become a bow hunter. Now, it’s time to go over some gear. I am not a brand-name guy; I believe that similar products offer similar quality. Instead, I tend to look for deals, and generally you can find great deals if you shop last year’s models. I purchased a Bear Dominion bow (last year’s model at the time). I chose this bow because the store had it completely outfitted with products from the year prior, or returns that didn’t have packaging anymore.
The bow came with a Cobra 5-pin site, Tarantula wrist strap, Beestinger stabilizer, Trophy Ridge attached quiver, and Team Quad fall-away rest. The total for this package could have been well over $1000; instead, I paid $400 because I was willing to go with last year’s model. I still needed some additional items, and I purchased these separate from the package. I initially went with Vital Impact arrows, but later I changed to Carbon Express Mayhem Hunters for added grain weight and impact on the animal.
Speaking of grain weight, depending on what state you live in, you will need to review the hunting equipment section of the local hunting regulations. States will have a minimum grain weight and pounds of pull on your bow required for legal hunts. For example, in Washington State, a bow must produce at least 40 pounds of pull measured at 28 inches (28 refers to your draw). Additionally, your arrow shaft must be at least 20 inches in length with an arrow weight of at least 350 grains. It sounds complicated, but if you find your local bow guru, he/she can help you through this process.
Finishing off the gear, I bought a Tru-Fire release (goes around your wrist and has a trigger mechanism to fire your arrow), field tips (practice tips because you will ruin your broadheads if you practice with them), an archers Allen key tool, bow wax, and Nockturnal lighted nocks (a story for another time, but I will never ever hunt without lighted nocks again).
Now that I had the bow and ammo situation under wraps, I started looking at clothing, animal calls, and anything else that might help me achieve a successful hunt. Before you buy clothes, make sure you actually go out to the area you want to hunt and see what the vegetation looks like. You can spend as much money on camouflage as you want, however, if it doesn’t match the terrain, you might as well go in jeans and a t-shirt.
Real-Tree camouflage pattern works great in my area, and it just so happened that the store-brand version of this print was on sale. I purchased pants, a long-sleeve shirt, ball cap, face cowl (this is important unless you want to paint your face every morning. Remember, we need to get within 40 yards of our prey). I was hunting deer, during summer, so I got a simple deer call that adjusted from buck to doe. It was time to put in some range time.
A major difference between bow and modern firearms is how you zero in at the range. With a bow, you can really only take a finite amount of shots before you become too fatigued and cannot hold a correct shooting position. For me, that came after about 30 shots. Remember, every time you take a shot you are pulling anywhere from 40-70 pounds, and trust me, it adds up. The short time it would take at the range for me to familiarize myself with a modern firearm instead took me around six separate trips to my local archery range. My range has a 3D course (actually animal decoys set at various heights and ranges), and I strongly recommend finding a range that has this in place.
It may sound farfetched, but you should be comfortable hitting a playing card at 20, 30, and 40 yards, and an 8 x 11 piece of paper at 50 and 60 yards. Once you are at this point, I would say that you and your bow are ready for hunting. It can become frustrating, but if it was easy, then everyone would be a bow hunter. My motivation was summer hunting, more lenient regulations, and less pressure on the animals I was hunting. You will need to find your own motivation.
For Part I of this series click here.