Article by Contributing Writer G. Thurman.
Every fall when the leaves turn and the air gets cool, millions of American hunters take to the woods with archery tackle in hand to pursue a variety of game. Archery in the last decade has exploded in popularity, it is estimated that 18.9 million Americans enjoy archery and bow hunting. Looking at the evolution of equipment in the world of archery in that time is astounding. We now have bows that shoot well over 300 fps, come in every space age material and are manufactured with record speed. It’s amazing to look at how archery came from humble natural beginnings to the amazing machines that are modern day compounds.
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I began my archery hunting life as most modern people do, with a compound bow in hand and decked out in the latest and greatest gear. With practice the modern bow hunter can easily make shots on game animals that once were only thought of with a firearm. If a person’s sole objective is to put an animal in the freezer during archery season, the compound cannot be beat. What happens though when a hunter desires more than the higher odds of a harvest. It’s a very simple answer the hunter decides to punish him or herself by taking up traditional archery!
If a modern day traditional archer really wants to shave years off the learning curve, there is no better way than finding a mentor. I was lucky enough to do just that when I met a local bowyer named John Holzrichter. John builds some amazing works of art that are also functional and very deadly. He has had a lifetime of bow making and hunting that is a true wealth of knowledge. One afternoon of shooting with him fixed years of bad habits in my form and aim. After regular shooting sessions with him; I knew I was capable of taking game with one of the many longbows and recurves that he had built for me.
Hunting with a traditional bow is a lesson in being humbled. The hunter has to take much more into account, as shot distance becomes absolutely critical. I am really comfortable with shooting out to 25 yards; that is my self-imposed limit with a stick bow. If a truly giant buck presents itself at 40 yards for a shot, it really is a valuable lesson in self-control.
Over the last few seasons I have learned to pick my stand sites closer to game trails or food sources knowing that I could achieve a shot at 25 yards and in on game. The height that you set your tree stand at is very important; the angle of your shot is even more affected shooting a traditional bow versus a compound. I have shot under more deer than I care to think of when I started out in traditional archery due to hunting in tree stands set up too high. My favorite height is no higher than 15 feet and I have killed mature bucks out of stands 10 feet off the ground as long as you have adequate cover to break up your outline.
Getting out of the trees and on the ground can open up a whole world of opportunity on game and some of the most exciting hunts you will experience. Manufactured ground blinds can be very useful. When choosing a ground blind for hunting out of with traditional bows; make sure that the ground blind is tall enough for adequate limb clearance. I have had the most luck with setting out a blind for at least a week before I plan on hunting it. Make sure to spend the time adequately brushing in the blind as game animals will become acclimated to its presence much quicker. One of the most effective ways of hunting I have found is using natural ground blinds. Brush piles and fallen large trees can give the hunter enough concealment to draw the bow undetected. This is of the utmost importance with traditional bows as there is no let off as with a compound.
All of my hunts I have been on hold special memories, but the hunts and harvests I have accomplished with traditional archery have given me a greater sense of connection with nature. Hunting and shooting traditional archery is a both a rewarding experience and a frustrating one. Even though I have had to pass on the chance of harvesting animals due to the limitations of traditional archery; the ones I have taken have meant more to me because of the dedication it takes.
About the Author
Gabriel lives with his wife in Wichita, Kansas where he works in the healthcare field. But his true passion is hunting mule deer in his home state. Gabriel is an active member of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and Backcountry Hunters and Anglers. He and his wife enjoy growing, harvesting, and preserving their own food. Nothing brings Gabriel more joy than taking people hunting and introducing them to a more nature based lifestyle. Connect with Gabriel on Instagram: @gabethurman
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