Why You NEED to Consider Bowhunting
I feel like the only way for me to tell you why you need to consider hunting with a bow, is to tell you how I got hooked on it myself. Let us begin!
It wasn’t until around 15 years of age that the bow ended up snuggling its way into my life. It did so for the simple fact that my dad was sick and tired of not drawing rifle deer tags here in Arizona(We ended up moving out here from New York when I was 9). Archery deer tags in AZ can be purchased “over the counter.” That was something that we definitely wanted to get our hands on the following season. So, we bought some bows and started practicing religiously in the backyard. It was pretty cool shooting a bow for the first time. I remember thinking how hard it was to pull the string back and come to full draw. I also remember being amazed when I let the arrow go. The flight of the arrow captured my attention.
My First Archery Hunt
It was December, it was cold, and we got a tip on a spot to check out for mule deer by a local game and fish officer. Before this, all we had experienced was the October rifle deer hunts. This was the first time we would get to hunt mule deer in the rut. We arrived in camp and immediately took a stroll after getting set up. Not 5 minutes into our walk, there was a nice 4×4 mule deer buck staring at me from a mere 40 yards away. Too bad the season wasn’t open until the following day! From there we saw another 2 bucks, all within 150 yards. This walk lasted all but 20 minutes and had me thinking, “this archery season stuff is pretty cool.” I had never seen anything like that in previous hunts.
Opening Day(Pre-Dawn Darkness Thoughts)
During our short walk, we found a fence line that it looked like the bucks were using to travel along. Our plan for opening day was to sit in the bottom of a nearby drainage that the fence line led to. With any luck, a big muley buck would come strolling his way down that fence and we would get an opportunity. Hopes are always high on opening day and optimism isn’t that hard to come by.
We got set up and sat in the pre-dawn darkness, waiting for the sun to peak above the horizon. While we waited, I remember thinking about how cold my feet were. Cold feet was always something I associated with hunting as a youngster. It was as if the familiar feeling of numb feet was welcoming me back to the mountains. I welcomed it with open arms, because in a short while, the sun would come up and the hunt would begin.
Just as the sun started to creep its way over the skyline, I saw movement. “Probably just a bird up there,” I remember thinking to myself. My assumptions couldn’t have been more off. What I was seeing was antlers and it is an image that is burned into my mind. We watched as this buck thrashed his antlers against the brush and the sun glistened off of them. Little by little, he worked his way down towards us. Seeing the deer’s breath in the cold morning air, reminded me of my precious cold feet. The buck had a white patch on his back, right in between his shoulder blades. I still wonder how long it took for that to appear on the deer. An old 3×3 mule deer buck was making his way right into our laps.
Pretty soon, I well knew that the buck was within bow range, and he was right in front of me. My dad was positioned about 30 yards to my left, so this was my shot. “40 yards, 30 yards, 20 yards, how close was this buck going to get to me?” He ended up getting to 10 yards! From there, he walked right by me. I could hear his footsteps behind me and listened to him walk right out of my life. It was then that I realized something. I was in such awe of this buck, I never even picked up my bow. There it was, laying right in my lap, and I never thought to pick it up and try to shoot this deer. How could I let this happen? Another tag unfilled, but a new love surfaced, and that was bowhunting.
I’d say that the buck still haunts me to this day, but I’d be lying. Sure, right after the fact, I was bitter and couldn’t stop thinking about why I had or hadn’t done what I had done. Anger and disappointment coursed through me. After awhile, I indeed got over it and moved on. Even so, it came up every now and again in conversation and I was brought back to that place.
As I sit here and write this, recalling how this hunt went down, I am brought, yet again, right back to that place. Instead of anger and disappointment though, I feel peace and tranquility. For that was the moment when bowhunting chose me and I it. How that buck captivated me, leaving me immobile is something that I look back on and smile. The rush and connection that you feel from being that close to such an incredible animal is unmatched. Bowhunting gave me that experience and I cherish it. That is why I suggest that if you’ve never hunted with a bow, consider it. I’m glad I did.
I’d love to hear similar stories from you all! Drop them below! Let me know when bowhunting chose you!