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How to Start Bow Hunting – 6 Basic Tips & Tricks

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bow hunting

Almost any animal can be hunted with a bow, provided you’re using the correct bow and arrows, license or tag, and you’re following all applicable regulations. The difference between bow hunting or using a gun is that there is a fairly steep learning curve with a bow, and it’s arguably more work depending on who you ask.

Once you have the gear and the skill, there isn’t much in your way to getting your own meat. However, there is some serious preparation that goes into bow hunting. Here are some tips and tricks to get you going on a new adventure.

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How to Start Bow Hunting – 6 Basic Tips & Tricks

1. Learn How to Use a Bow

bow sight
Image Credit: Ben Schonewille, Shutterstock

The first thing you’ll need to do is learn how to use a bow. If you’ve never actually used a bow, it’s a good idea to learn how to use one before you even spend the money. A good compound bow is a big expense before you know if you enjoy the sport.

The best way to do this is to find a local archery club. These clubs typically offer rentals to take part. In addition, there are also usually classes available where you can have an expert teach you how to use a bow.

2. Take a Hunting Class

bow target
Image Credit: AND21, Shutterstock

Using a bow to shoot targets in an archery range is one thing. But it’s quite another to be out in the wild hunting live animals. There are a lot of rules and regulations to follow and many best practices to be aware of for safety and conservation.

Taking a hunter education class is the best way to prepare yourself for the technical knowledge of hunting. These types of courses will ensure that you’re aware of the various rules and regulations of the country you’re in. You’ll also learn where to find area-specific hunting regulations.

In addition to the technical stuff, a hunter education class will also ensure you have the knowledge to keep yourself and those around you safe while hunting. For example, in certain areas, you must wear brightly colored clothes like orange hats or vests. And in some places, you can only be out hunting at certain times during the day.

3. Practice—a Lot

man aiming with a bow
Image Credit: claus_indesign, Pixabay

Using a bow is not hard, but it takes practice to shoot accurately. And if you’re going to bow hunt ethically, you must be an accurate shot. So, it’s important to practice regularly to ensure your skills are adequate.

An arrow doesn’t do as much damage as a bullet can, so if you don’t hit the animal in the right spot, it may run for miles and lose you before dying and going to waste. In addition to being a waste, this is not a humane way to kill an animal.

4. Purchase the Gear

man using a bow with sight
Image Credit: REDAV, Shutterstock

Like anything hunting-related, you can purchase almost an endless amount of gear. Some of which you may never use, but it’s fun to have. We don’t have the space to go into comprehensive detail, but here is a solid list of all the basics that will get you going:

  • Bow and arrows: Compound and crossbows are two common types for hunting. Although recurve or longbows are also potential options for an advanced archer. In addition, you’ll want the appropriate arrows for the species you’re hunting.
  • Bow sight: When hunting with a bow, you don’t have the luxury of a high-powered scope. But some incredible bow sights significantly affect how well you can see your target. Investing a little bit here pays off in the long run.
  • Clothing and footwear: Bow hunting is a LOT of walking, so make sure you don’t cheap out on the footwear—waterproofing and support are huge. Also, you’ll want good quality pants and shirts for the climate.
  • Arm guard: This prevents the bowstring from striking your arm when you release the arrow.
  • Glove and tab: This makes pulling and releasing the bowstring easier on your fingers.
  • Backpack: For many trips, it’ll either be a long day or potentially a night or two in the bush. A good (and comfortable) pack is critical. Included with a backpack would be all your typical hiking and camping gear that you would need to spend the night in the bush.
  • Tree stand: Not everyone uses tree stands. However, it’s a pretty common bow hunting accessory because it allows you to sit out of sight in areas that the animal you’re hunting frequents.
  • Game camera: This isn’t really a “required” piece of hunting gear. However, it makes finding an area to hunt easier. It will help you pinpoint exactly where the critters you’re hunting spend their time.

5. Find a Place to Bow Hunt

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Image Credit: REDAV, Shutterstock

Before you can actually start hunting, you need a place to hunt. Once you decide what you want to hunt, you need to make sure that bow hunting is allowed in the particular area you’re interested in hunting.

Assuming it is, you’ll want to scout the area to know where the animals are. For example, if you’re looking for deer, you’ll want to find an area with a high deer population. If it’s lawful, putting out a salt lick or leaving a bag of grain where you want the deer to come is super helpful. This is also where you would set up your tree stand if you have one.

While finding a place to bow hunt, getting permission to be on the land before hunting or scouting on it is important if it’s not government land.

6. Learn to Track

hunter carrying a turkey
Image Credit: Beau Leyse, Shutterstock

Part of hunting is learning how to track. It’s possible to drop an animal on the spot with an arrow, like with a bullet. However, it’s less common, especially if you’re not super experienced. Tracking is an important skill that you should learn before you hunt. At the very least, learn the basics so that you have a higher chance of retrieving the animal once it dies.

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Getting started with bow hunting can be expensive and a lot of work if you’ve never used a bow before. But it’s an incredible way to get out and really experience the outdoors in a genuine and gritty way. Plus, there are actually some hunting seasons where the only way you can participate is with a bow.

Featured Image Credit: Neil Podoll, Shutterstock

About the Author Shea Cummings

Shea Cummings is a passionate content writer who believes that the power of words is immeasurable. He leverages years of experience in various trades such as carpentry, photography, and electrical to bring his articles to life. His goal is to provide his readers with information that delights and informs. When he's not writing you can find him spending time in the outdoors or playing some Minecraft on the Xbox with his wife and two sons.