I'm a Bowhunter?!?
Throughout my outdoor-obsessed life, I've had a passion for taking animals with a variety of different guns. Thanks to my brother and father, I broadened that in 2013 to another type of weapon: a compound bow!
I'll admit I was not quick to adopt bowhunting and was the last one among our little clan of family hunters to do so. My father had a compound bow when I was growing up in the 80s but never hunted with it, and sold it without taking an animal with it. His interest was rekindled after my brother decided to purchase a bow in 2011 and he was able to get one at a great price at Mardens(a salvage and surplus store familiar to those on the east coast) in 2012. The two of them began practicing with the bows and tried to convince me to purchase one as well, but I didn't really see the draw. I was always addicted to a successful harvest above all, and I couldn't see the draw of dropping my odds to such a large degree. “So you want me to buy something that will decrease my odds of getting an animal in a time when our whitetail deer herd has decreased from hundreds of thousands to tens of thousands in my short lifetime?” WHY WOULD I DO THAT?
With already limited hunting time I decided not to get in at the same time with my father and brother, and though I practiced with their bows a few time at the camp and enjoyed it, my excuses always came back to limiting my success rate.
Sure, bowhunters in our province get three weeks longer to their deer season, but it is definitely not easy to take a mature whitetail with a bow. Their range is a fraction of what a gun will do, putting you right into the animal's “kitchen” so to speak and allowing for far greater chance of them smelling or seeing you. Even when you are able to master sitting and drawing on an animal, there is far greater motion and physical stress involved in drawing a bow than in raising a gun that definitely increases the odds of detection. Shooting lanes are far more essential, as are angle of the shot as you must be ever conscious of your surroundings and the line the arrow will travel to the target. And an ethical hunter must be prepared to be willing to let an animal walk if they will not give a good percentage shot where one will have a good chance to humanely harvest that animal. A frustrating proposition to be sure! Again... WHY WOULD I DO THAT?
So I waited while they took their courses, and I missed their first bowhunt in Grand Manan, New Brunswick. There's just something about “first experiences” and I regret missing that one. My father and brother spent a week camping and bowhunting in an area unfamiliar to them with local friends helping, and made some memories so vivid that it has become an annual tradition. Although my father was successful and my brother wasn't in 2012, the stories and the laughs that they shared convinced me to take it up. (That first year as my father took both a bear and a deer with his bow, while my brother came up empty he teased him nearly relentlessly. His favourite gag was getting people to ask my brother if his bow was for sale, because my father told them he wasn't going to use it anyways).
I invested in my first (and current) bow in April of 2013. I saw the listing on a local hunting forum, and drove to Nova Scotia with my father and brother along to check out the equipment to pick up a used 2012 PSE DreamSeason EVO. (My brother and father both hunt with PSE equipment, using Axe models). My wife even paid for my bow as a gift for me, in spite of the fact she knew it might push me into the wilderness for longer periods of time (I have the best wife ever).
After over 18 months of bowhunting, I can tell you honestly that even though it does decrease the harvest odds (some would say it “evens up the odds with the animal”), I have developed a passion for bowhunting that I never expected would happen! I love practicing with the bow, and I love hunting with the bow also. And I have had some success with it as evidenced in the galleries on the site. My spring hunt of 2013 I took a NB black bear with it, followed by a Grand Manan doe in fall of 2013. (Take a look at our youtube site if you want to revel in my first bowhunting failure as I was busted by a Grand Manan doe that same season). And then this past fall I was able to take my second Grand Manan doe with the bow! It's been a wonderful and wildly exciting ride!
I still love shooting my rifles and shotguns, and harvesting animals with them hasn't lost it's lustre. But there's just something about the challenge and excitement that comes to being able to harvest a game animal with the bow that is addicting! With heart pounding, almost in my throat, to be able to draw and make that shot gives a great feeling of accomplishment! I haven't yet taken a whitetail buck with the bow, but hopefully that day is coming and I can't imagine what a feeling that will be! The passion and obsession has grown to such a level that I'm really excited to try to harvest other animals, such as moose and turkeys and small game with the bow, and I hope to be able to recount those tales on this site in coming months and years. Bowhunting does level the playing field, but it's not something I'm going to give up anytime soon. As long as I am able, much to my surprise, I'm a bowhunter!
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