Bow hunting is a very special form of archery, which uses a bow and arrows to kill game animals for sport, or food, in combination with specialized hunting techniques. Archery, from which it is derived, is a broader term associated with modern skill competitions, and is often thought of as the weapons of war used in countless battles throughout the ages. Archery in warfare dates back to early conflicts among the primitive tribes in Asia and Africa, and most notably in Europe during the Dark and Middle Ages, and has been popularized above all, by the American Indians on the wild plains of the frontier.
Unlike hunting with rifles, bow hunting has a very limited shooting range. The hunter is required to get as close as possible to his prey, usually between two and forty yards. This often requires the use of camouflage clothing, crawling, hiding, and being an expert marksman in difficult terrain. The shooting distance also depends on the skill of the hunter, the animal being hunted, the weather and prevailing wind conditions, and the type of bow and arrows used. Bowstrings normally possess a draw weight requiring about fifty pounds of lateral force. Hunters often use larger arrows with a mass of around 58 grams, or more, to hunt large game such as deer and elk. Most other small game is hunted using lighter metal arrows called “micro-flights”, which have hollow aluminum shafts machined to exact weights and uniform design. When the arrows are all uniform, the hunter can develop his accuracy faster.
Bow hunters can use either “still hunting” or “stand hunting” methods. In still hunting, the hunter carefully stalks his prey and slowly walks up to it to achieve a good position close to the animal before launching the arrow. This technique normally requires the hunter to wear camouflage clothing, hide behind trees and brush, and use musk oil scent to hide the human odor. Hunters often walk upwind of the animal during their final approach to avoid detection and the risk of spooking the prey. Still hunting is an active pursuit of getting close enough to get off an accurate shot.
Stand hunting is an alternate method where the hunter awaits for the animal to come close to where he is hiding. Hunters normally locate themselves near watering holes, or sources of food, on trails, and other places where the animals are known to frequent or bed down. Hunters hide behind brush, in tree stands, behind logs and rocks, or they use natural materials in the habitat to build well-camouflaged blinds with clear, unobstructed views. Stand hunting is a passive waiting game.
Bow hunting has significantly different rules and restrictions in different countries and regions throughout the world. While many countries in Africa, Europe, North and South America allow bow hunting, some nations like the United Kingdom and Germany, have completely banned the practice. In the US and Canada, bow hunting is regulated by different rules stipulated by individual states and provinces. These rules specify the species and sex of game that can be hunted, the time of the year, and the area in the region where it is permitted. Late August and September is usually the main bow hunting season in North America and it is generally regulated by government agencies such as the Fish and Game Department, who sell hunting permits, and enforce the rules through the use of armed game wardens.
Cruelty to animals has been one of the main reasons cited by most nations that have banned the practice. Except for the most skilled hunters, it is nearly impossible to instantly kill an animal with an arrow. Kill shots require hitting a vital organ such as the heart, kidney, liver, or brain. Often wounded game escapes into the wild, where they suffer a slow, painful death over a period of several days. Proponents, on the other hand, point to bow hunting as a humane way to control game populations while providing an inexpensive source of protein for the families of hunters who are willing to put forth the effort. If you do not feel your bow hunting skills are adequate, please do your hunting with a rifle.