Balancing Weapons While Deer Hunting
As with all things in life, there are some people who are adamant about something they believe in. One group will swear up and down about how their approach is better than anybody else’s, and another group will promise that the opposite is true. This also happens in deer hunting circles. Though there is often overlap between the two, some deer hunters swear by using guns, while others will only use their bows. Is one of these opposing groups correct? Let’s look at the pros and cons of each approach.
Guns – The Modern Method
Most deer hunting enthusiasts grew up with a strong deer camp tradition. Typically, hunters gather together for rifle or shotgun season more so than bow hunting season. This is probably because most gun seasons are short-lived – often no more than a couple weeks. Meanwhile, most bow hunting seasons often last several months, from early fall to mid-winter.
The gun is a more modern hunting weapon and has some major pros on its side when it comes to its use in hunting. A firearm equipped with a scope can be used with great accuracy in the field. With a high quality firearm and scope combo, you only need a few practice shots a year to dial in your deer hunting weapon with deadly accuracy. You can also shoot at much farther distances (across fields or within the woods), which opens up more stand options. Additionally, most gun seasons are timed to be during some of the hottest deer action of the year, which is during the rut. For your best chance at harvesting an animal, this short time-frame can produce some dynamite deer hunting.
The primary con of using a gun is that there are more mechanical parts that could potentially break. Misfires can be partially prevented by properly caring for and maintaining your gun, but they are bound to happen at some point.
Bows – Ancient and Deadly
Hunting with a bow and arrow has been a popular hunting method for thousands of years for a reason. It’s effective. Hunters still use this deer hunting weapon for the additional challenges it poses and to re-kindle old instincts.
The primary draw for bow hunters is the adrenaline rush of getting very close to your prey – within 30-40 yards is typically the maximum shot distance. To get this close to a wary game animal with tremendous survival instincts and senses much sharper than our own requires skill and patience that bow hunters pride themselves on. You need to be stealthy, stay concealed, and really adopt the mindset of a predator to be an effective bow hunter. Another benefit to bow hunting is that you have the option to hunt in the early fall when the bugs are gone, but you don’t have to sit through bone-chilling weather of typical gun seasons. You also have an extended hunting season to allow you more chances at harvesting an animal.
That all being said, bow hunting also can be very frustrating when a mature whitetail walks within easy rifle range, but just outside of your bow range. Also, it takes lots of dedicated practice to get truly accurate and consistent with a bow. Ideally, you should practice throughout the summer with some regularity, which can be difficult for some to manage.
The Right Way?
All of this being said, there is no right way to deer hunt. As long as you are getting outdoors and having a good time chasing whitetails, you’re doing it right. If getting really close to an animal and using hard-practiced skills appeals to you, then bow hunt. If you only have a couple days to spare, then use a gun. There’s no rule book that says you can’t do both!