Bow Hunting: Challenge Yourself

This is another great article by friend of the hunt blog Ryan Hughes. He touches on many of the aspects that make bow hunting such a passion for my self and the rest of the hunt blog staff. Its the challenge, its being one with nature and even more so, the humility that bow hunting brings us. With this in mind give Ryan’s article a read and enjoy. Thanks for sharing! – James

At peace with stick and string
At peace with stick and string

Hunting is a lifestyle to many of us. To me, it is one of the last real adventures that this world has to offer. Harvesting a wild animal is an incredible thing, it is a challenge, it is a thrill, and it is really an honor, and as it is an honor for the hunter, the hunter takes on the responsibility to honor his or her prey.

One way that I, and many other hunters choose to honor their prey is to even the odds; I’m talking about hunting with a bow. To me, bow hunting is a whole new adventure, and not to mention a whole new new challenge. Along with it being that, it makes it a great way to honor the animal.

When I say “harvest the animal” I mean spot, stalk, kill, and locate the animal. I have found each one of these phases extremely tedious and challenging. I’ve been bow hunting for a little over three years and I’ve discovered it to me my favorite type of hunting; to be more exact, bow hunting for deer. Living in northern California, I mainly hunt Columbian black tailed deer, which is commonly found in western north America, from northern California into the Pacific northwest and British Columbia.

No matter what your bow setup is, what kind of broadheads you are using, compound or traditional, how much you practice, or how far you can shoot accurately, there’s no feeling quite like drawing your bow back on a wild animal.

Now you found your prey, you managed to put the sneak on it, and you just nailed it with your bow, but you’re not out of the woods yet, now you have to recover the animal. Recovering a downed animal is rarely an easy task to any hunter novice or professional. Tracking seems to be seen as an art to many, and I have had the privilege to hunt with some of the best trackers around, but what if you cannot find the animal that you are confident you hit?

In reality, you don’t always recover your kill. It happens, and there is nothing you can do about it but keep searching. The loss of a kill is a true shame to any hunter; it is a feeling of failure and helplessness. For me, the feeling has little to do with not obtaining the trophy or photo with my kill; the feeling is based of me knowing that I had just taken the life of an animal unnecessarily, and the knowledge that what I just attempted to harvest, will go to waste, aside from feeding predators and scavengers.


When a hunter fails to recover a kill, whether it be with a bow or a firearm, it is a huge feeling of discouragement. I remember when I lost my first bow kill, I swore to myself that I would never bow hunt again, in fear that I would needlessly kill another wild animal. As heavy this feeling might of seemed, I eventually picked my bow up and kept practicing in preparation for my next hunt.

As unfortunate a situation like that is, it is not an uncommon event for the average bow hunter, but should always be dealt with very carefully and the hunter should always take complete responsibility for making an effort to find his or her kill. Bow hunting is an experience like no other and I encourage anyone to take on the challenge. I feel that all animals that we hunt deserve to be honored, because in a way they honor us by letting us feed ourselves and our families; bow hunting is an incredible way to do so and should always be done with care and delicacy. Taking an animal, especially a big game animal, with a bow and arrow is a great challenge, and if everything doesn’t come together, don’t be discouraged. The best way to go about it is to just get after it. You’ll have better odds to meet your goals by getting out in the woods than by sitting on your couch.

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