Some outsiders think bowhunting is mundane. “All you do is walk in the woods, sit in a tree and wait,” they say. Sure, that might be bowhunting in its most basic form, but we all know there’s a lot more to it — and most importantly, there are always new things to learn.
If you find yourself itching for something new, January is a good time to set a goal and work throughout the next 12 months to achieve it. If you’re not really on the hunt for something else to do, consider how branching out will help you become a better bowhunter. Reflect on your previous season. Check your hunting journal; do you have a dream that is yet to be fulfilled? Ask yourself what you want to do in 2024 to take your bowhunting skills and hobby to the next level and set a goal.
Consider committing to one (or all 10) of these ideas. Achieving each goal comes with its own challenges to overcome and satisfaction upon completion. Convince your hunting buddies to join for more fun.
1. Pursue a New Species: There are nuanced differences in hunting each game species, from habitat and mannerisms to senses and the time of year. Pick a new species to bowhunt this year and learn as much as possible about it so you can tag one before 2024 ends. Whether it’s elk in another state or rabbits in your backyard, the critter will likely surprise you, making the chase as much of an educational experience as it is an adventure.
2. Hunt a New Location: Venture to a new tract of public land, strive to get permission to hunt a nearby private parcel or digitally scout out-of-state areas to find prospects for future bowhunting trips. The new hunting area may have different terrain and plant species, but it might also have a trophy animal lurking about.
3. Tan a Hide: Memorialize and commemorate a harvest with a superior prize — a self-tanned hide. Imagine the pride and accomplishment you’ll feel each time you eye the deer hide blanket or coyote pelt you crafted over time. The broadhead blade cut will make a unique focal point.
4. Mentor a Newcomer: Teach a beginner bowhunter the basics and open your mind to questions and new ideas. Share your knowledge to help the newcomer avoid pitfalls. You’ll also likely affirm how much you know and remember about your early days as a bowhunter, all while growing bowhunting’s ranks and support for our sport.
5. Try a New Hunting Method: Everyone has their own approach to hunting. Branch out of your comfort zone to try a new strategy. Consider hunting from a climber, tree saddle, lock-on stand or ground blind. Better yet, try stalking an animal by foot or accessing public land by boat or kayak. You’ll quickly discover each method has pros and cons, and you must choose your tactics wisely depending on your situation or species.
6. Join a League: Continue shooting in the offseason and join a weekly archery league to meet new people, win prizes and keep your skills sharp. You’ll likely enjoy the camaraderie and small-group competitive nature, too.
7. Shoot in a Tournament or Achieve a Specific Score: Advance beyond your backyard and test your skills among competitors. You’ll learn to adapt under pressure and probably make a few new like-minded archery friends. Keeping score helps you track your progress as an archer.
8. Try Traditional Archery: Channel your inner ancestor and go back to basics. Become proficient at archery in its primitive form. Hunting with a traditional setup requires practice, instinct and a whole new level of devotion.
9. Complete a DIY Bowhunting Project: Make your own target, ground blind or elevated box stand, or consider fletching your own arrows or tuning your bow. These hands-on DIY projects require education and know-how, forcing you to diversify your bowhunting resume.
10. Complete a Habitat Improvement Project: As a hunter, you take from the land, so give back. Plant a food plot, pick up trash or make a watering hole. You could also volunteer for a state or federal agency project to plant trees, remove invasive species or assist with a prescribed fire.
Whatever your goal, remember to be flexible, patient and persistent. Don’t get frustrated by a hurdle along the way. Instead, seek help and get the support you need to check the box and expand your bowhunting knowledge and skills this year.