Bowhunting takes commitment. The kind of attitude that makes shooting arrows a part of one’s routine. The determination to turn an average night of Netflix into an evening of e-scouting hunting locations. The patience to put in miles in pursuit of game and hours waiting in a treestand. Bowhunting can be a full-time passion that opens up amazing opportunities.
It requires development of a more advanced skill set than hunting with a firearm does, and it also expands your knowledge of wildlife. If that’s not enough, here are six more reasons to become a full-time bowhunter this season.
Many states give bowhunters more opportunities than those available during firearm seasons. This is for a variety of reasons. Most states have archery-only seasons. These are held during separate dates than general seasons and firearms aren’t allowed.
Bowhunters have a lower success rate than hunters who choose firearms. Because of this, many wildlife agencies try to assist bowhunters in their success by giving them generous seasons. It’s also common for bowhunters to have access to early and late seasons that take place on either side of gun season.
Hunt the Rut
Most hunters wouldn’t pass up the opportunity to chase bugling bull elk — and in most of the West, that’s an opportunity reserved for bowhunters. Across the Midwest, bowhunters are given the chance to pursue rutting whitetails.
Take Advantage of Special Opportunities
Many states have archery-only areas and hunt opportunities. Wildlife agencies sometimes use archery as a management tool in areas where firearms would be unsafe. For example, urban locations or military bases sometimes have special archery-only hunts. Be sure to check the hunting regulations to search for opportunities and apply for these areas. In many cases, you will need to be able to show proof of having completed the International Bowhunter Education Program.
Due to the extremely challenging nature of bowhunting, many wildlife agencies authorize bowhunters to pursue big-game animals during the rut. This allows bowhunters to use techniques like calling, rattling and decoys to give them an edge. Not only is this a fun and challenging type of hunting, but the rut is an extremely special time to be in the woods because you can witness wildlife behavior that’s seen at no other time of year.
Get Closer to Wildlife
Close encounters are part of what makes bowhunting addicting. Kneeling just yards away from a bugling bull elk or watching a sizable whitetail buck move below your treestand creates memories for a lifetime. Getting close to wildlife also allows hunters to observe behaviors that are tough to see through binoculars and spotting scopes. These intimate encounters are special. While bowhunting can at times feel like a game of “close, but not close enough,” the skills required and excitement of getting close makes success even more satisfying.
Expand Your Knowledge
It takes a range of skills to be successful in bowhunting, and those are developed through putting in the practice, research and boots-on-the-ground time. Learning to identify signs and pattern movements, play the wind, and set up treestands and ground blinds are just a few of the abilities you need to be successful.
Not only will bowhunting expand your knowledge of hunting, but hunters also learn more about their surroundings. Bowhunting will take you to new locations. You’ll get the chance to watch birds and identify plants. Many bowhunters study weather patterns to understand the average wind direction and how thermals could affect their plans in the mountains or on hardwood ridges. This type of firsthand knowledge of nature is not only helpful but rewarding.
Bowhunting can be hard, but in the best way possible. It takes a constant commitment to learning how to be successful. That’s why bowhunting is a full-time pursuit. The offseason is for shooting, working on equipment, scouting new locations and making plans. When the season is open, it’s time to put in the effort to have your hard work pay off. The more days you give yourself in the field, the more opportunities you have for success.
But bowhunting shouldn’t just be about filling the freezer. It’s an avenue for exercise and mental clarity. It teaches drive, patience, commitment and woodsmanship. The persistence that comes with working toward success will help you in other areas of your life. Every mistake is an opportunity to learn. Every unsuccessful outing reinforces the lessons of the work it takes to meet a goal.
Being a bowhunter doesn’t guarantee success. But by committing yourself to spending your season bowhunting, you’re guaranteed to build your skills and learn some life lessons.