The challenges of bowhunting: Up close and personal, part II
Up close and personal.
photos by Alex Gouthro
In the last issue of the Wawatay News we covered some of the major differences between gun and bow hunting and the need for the new bowhunter to: (1) become proficient at shooting the bow and arrow; (2) select bowhunting equipment matched to his/her size and strength; (3) build up personal strength for shooting heavier draw-weight bows; (4) develop an understand of how a broadhead-tipped arrow kills; and, (5) to learn the anatomy and shot placement for the animal hunted. In this issue we explore some other major challenges of bowhunting.
Challenge Six: Because of the way a broadhead-tipped arrow kills, a mental challenge for the bowhunter is to accept the fact that, in terms of shot placement, many shots for the gun hunter are simply no-shot situations for the bow hunter.
Because arrows cannot penetrate through larger bones, and because the arrow must penetrate to and through the vital organs to do their job by cutting, the bowhunter must wait for the shot that will allow the arrow to enter the animal without hitting major bones. Even hitting a moose rib bone dead center can rob an arrow of 30-40 percent of its energy.
This severely limits the shots that can be taken – and this can be frustrating for the new bowhunter.
Challenge Seven: Because a broadhead-tipped arrow kills by cutting and can take some time to do its job, the new bowhunter has to learn how to recognize and interpret what type of hit has been made, and also learn the blood trailing and tracking skills that will allow him/her to recover an animal that has run after being hit.
Big game animals generally have about one ounce of blood for every pound that they weigh. Under normal circumstances an animal must lose about 1/3 of its blood to die of hemorrhagic shock.
So the time it takes for an animal to expire depends on where it was hit: for example, a 1,000 pound bull moose, if not hit in the heart or through both lungs, has to lose about 330 oz. of blood before hemorrhagic shock takes place.
The animal may not even know it is hit, and may travel a long way before hemorrhagic shock happens. The bowhunter needs to have the blood trailing and tracking skills to follow the animal to where it has expired.
Challenge Eight: Bowhunters must accept the short-range nature of the sport. High velocity bullets shot from rifles travel at 8 to 10 times the speed of arrows shot from high-performance bows.
Low arrow speeds translate into very high trajectories. Even the fastest compound bows and crossbows will have trajectory drops of about two feet or more between 20 and 50 yards. There is no such thing as a flat shooting bow; some just shoot a bit flatter than others.
High trajectories make bows very short-range weapons.
Challenge Nine: Bowhunters must learn how to get close and personal to the animal hunted. Because of the short-range nature of bowhunting, bowhunters must develop specialized hunting skills and patience to get within very close range of the big game animal hunted.
The objective is to have the bowhunter get into position for a clean shot that ensures a quick, humane kill.
Preparing for the hunt can include learning how to call animals and set up hunts in a manner suitable for animal hunted. This preparation and setting up will most often include scent control, which can include the use of scent removal products, the addition of cover scents, and the use of attractor scents – all designed to beat a big game animal’s keen sense of smell at close range.
For certain animals, such as deer and moose, ‘calling’ can be an effective technique during the rut. The bowhunter who learns how to call correctly will have a much better chance of bringing in an animal close enough for that humane shot we all look for. But you have to be able to handle the ‘up close and personal’ action – another challenge for bowhunters.
Hopefully this two-part series has sparked your interest in taking up the sport of bowhunting. As previously mentioned, bowhunting is different from gun hunting, with a few new challenges thrown in; but thousands of hunters in Ontario have successfully met these challenges over the past 20 years and the sport is rapidly growing.
You can become a successful bowhunter – and have a lot of fun along the way. Try it. Take on the challenges. You’ll like it!
Alex Gouthro is an avid bowhunter and is a Master Instructor in the International/Ontario Bowhunter Education Program. He is also the author of the ‘Gouthro’s Moose Madness Series On Moose Hunting and Calling.’ Visit or contact Alex through his web sites at www.alexgouthro.com or www.gouthrosmoosemadness.com
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