Bow hunting and archery over the years
I picked up my first compound bow back in 1983 in a local sporting goods store, and the second I handled that piece of equipment I knew I was going to be a bow hunter. There was just something that intrigued me with those early model compound bows, and in those days the technology and engineering that went into these units was a far cry from what it is today, however the concept of a sharp projectile coming off of a string an into it’s intended quarry has remained for 50,000 years.
My first bow was a Darton dual wheeled bow, with a teardrop cable system, Dacron string, plastic cams, and fiberglass limbs. I was able to dispatch a heavy aluminum arrow fletched with 5” plastic vanes at a whopping 185 fps (feet per second), I used a leather finger tab and on more than one occasion had string slap on my inner forearm.
Today I shoot a top of the line Mathews bow, with a Winn release, New Archery Products arrow rest, stabilizer and Crossfire broad heads, and my Beman graphite ICS camo carbon arrows are smoking down range at 300 fps. An absolute huge difference from that old relic that I shot over 25 years ago.
The bow hunting and archery industry has recruited a lot of folks over the years, and today in some locales if you’re a rifle hunter you’re in the minority especially in some of the Midwestern States like Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, and Minnesota where bow hunting is king.
I recently had an opportunity to attend one of the largest hunting shows in North America in lower Michigan, and I was amazed at how much of the show was geared towards archery and bow hunting. I was blown away at the shear number of archery manufacturers that were present displaying their wares. Most were set up to allow testing and demos for the interested shopper. There was everything you could think of and several of each, not to mention the stiff competition in pricing, and performance.
Over the years I have been fortunate enough to be able to experiment with a lot of makes and models of bows, like Hoyt, PSE, Darton, Martin, Golden Eagle, Jennings, Mathews, and High Country, and like truck manufacturers they all have their claim to fame and what makes “their” bow the best. If you open up any bow hunting magazine it’s littered with advertisements for broad heads, sights, stabilizers, arrow rests, releases, silencers, arrows, fletching, cases, and everything that is associated with a hunting set up. Manufacturers are spending millions in the engineering department to get that little bit of an edge, whether it be a little lighter, a little faster, or a little quieter. Something they can advertise and lure the potential buyer.
Being on several pro staffs myself, I can attest to the fact that getting your product and name out there is why they have pro staffs in the first place.
Company’s that can afford to have pro staffs will no doubt be able to get their product out in the field and into the hands of veterans and very experienced and successful bow hunters who will not only use, but promote the gear to others.
When I was fortunate enough to bow hunt moose with Ted Nugent last fall, one of the very first things I did was check out what he was using. The man has hunted all over the world and has been very successful at it, so it only makes sense to see what type of gear he uses that contributes to his success.
Having big names associated with your product is the epitome of advertising; however that comes with a cost but can in some cases be the best money you ever spent.
Of course Ted Nugent’s trade marks are his custom Zebra striped arrows, guitars, trucks, cowboy hats and his association with Martin Archery who have supported him for years and years.
It all lends itself to successful relationships in marketing and promotion. If you are fortunate enough to have one of the outdoor hunting channels on your television at home you will see for yourself the millions and millions of dollars that has been put into the archery and bow hunting sports in North America. It has become an entity in itself.
What about traditional archery? It has been around for thousands of years and still remains today. Traditional bow hunters are a different breed and I have the utmost in respect for these guys as hunting big game with a recurve or long bow is a total different ball game than hunting with a high tech compound bow. Simplicity sometimes is better as we all know, however in this realm of hunting, a lot of practice, eye hand coordination, practice, concentration, practice and upper body strength is mandatory. Did I mention practice?
Using a bow that is plainly a stick and string without the aid of a cam system and sights with a mechanical release is the epitome of bow hunting.
I personally know a fellow who lives in Atikokan by the name of Jim Hrynuk who has hunted with a Black Widow 74lb recurve bow for many years and harvests monster moose every year with this traditional primitive weapon. I have hunted with Jim a few years back and his concentration and accuracy are second to none. He is truly a dedicated traditional archer.
What about chaps like the great Fred Bear, Ishi, Saxton Pope, Art Young, and Howard Hill? These guys were the pioneers in the bow hunting fraternity and they are all legends whose legacy’s will live on forever. They were all traditional bow hunters and used the simplest of sticks and strings that were back in those days not the best of gear.
I guess what I am leading towards is this. Are we relying too much on our new high tech gear to make us better bow hunters and less on our actual hunting skills?
Like with everything else, we tend to become dependent on modern technology rather than remembering our basic skills. Same should be applied to archery and bow hunting. The art of bow hunting was the ability to outsmart the animal and get in close to make that clean, quick harvest with a weapon that was developed thousands of years ago.
If you haven’t tried hunting with a bow, and are interested, by all means get online and check out the kazillions of sites and gear. Get down to the local sporting goods store and see some of the pros who can help you out and better yet get out to the local archery club and try it first hand.