It all started two years ago during black-tailed deer season. At this point, I had never been bowhunting before. In Washington State, deer season for modern firearm is October 11-31, or as I like to call it, the non-stop-raining season. After years in the military, I wasn’t going to let a little rain spoil my hunting adventures.
Now, I should mention that I am not a landowner. I don’t have any land-owning friends, and the only hunting that I typically do is on public land (forestry land) or timber lands owned by companies such as Weyerhaeuser. This is an important consideration because the “hunts” you see on the hunting channels on TV are generally on private lands where they have cultivated fields for deer-luring crops, as well as placed bait stations throughout the property.
When I began hunting, I was completely surprised at the sheer number of hunters I encountered, as well as their ethical standards for hunting. At 3 a.m., I must have passed 30 hunters, all barely off the road and fighting over the same clear-cut. So these “hunters” didn’t want to put any real effort into the hunt, they simply wanted to shoot the first thing they saw near a road and call it a day.
I found this practice disrespectful of the hunt, and to the animals. One morning, I heard a gunshot ring out—quickly followed by four more. I just imagined the deer shot to pieces and five hunters fighting over the remains. I continued to hunt that entire season and continued to encounter the same scene. I did a little research and discovered that bowhunting offered some unique opportunities to get me away from the crowds.
Bowhunting has a different season (this is typical of every state). Specifically, it is the first open season during September. Also, due to the additional challenges of bowhunting, the harvesting rules were more lenient for the hunter. For example, in the GMU (game management unit) I hunted during modern firearm, I could harvest any buck. Now, during bow season, I could harvest any deer. This was basically an opportunity to hunt bucks and does without having to win a special permit or draw.
I also like the idea of a more traditional hunt. I wasn’t going to be able to take a 400m shot, I was going to have to get close, inside 40 meters, and this was going to have all its own challenges. I went to a local hunting store and found a retired bow hunter. He was older, and his shoulder was shot from decades of bow hunting. “Jackpot,” I thought. This is the bow guru.
I picked his brain and learned that for a bow hunter to be successful, he needed good gear, scouting, practice, practice, and more practice. None of this scared me as he helped me select my gear and gave me the specifications for bow hunting. It’s nothing like just buying a hunting rifle off the rack. I had to be measured for my draw and had to find a bow with a semi-comfortable draw weight that I could engage multiple times, but still had enough power to kill a large animal humanely.
This was the path I took to change from a modern firearm hunter to a bow hunter. Now I still have a modern firearm and I still plan on using it for hunting depending on the game and location. There is just something right about less hunters, a traditional hunting style, and an added element of difficulty.
If you have ever considered bowhunting, there is no better time than the present. Cruize down to your local shop, talk to some friends, or feel free to ask us some questions. If you are a seasoned bowhunter, we would love to hear how and why you got started.