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Clash! Rifle Hunting vs Bow Hunting!

by Jalen Cunningham on Jun 06, 2024

Clash! Rifle Hunting vs Bow Hunting!

A debate as old as time. Well not really since bows and bow hunting has been around wayyyy longer than the invention of the gun, let alone gun hunting. But that’s neither here nor there.

I can definitely see why this debate has been going on for so many years though. Both sides have definite pros and cons when it comes to their own respective way of hunting.

Although let’s face it, this is ultimately the best form of hunting.

Box Trap Cartoons and Comics - funny pictures from CartoonStock

Cost effective and it’s funny. We don’t even need a blog or video about this.

Jokes aside, I wanted to dive deeper into this topic and get to know more about it. Maybe there’s a good reason why there’s a debate, maybe there isn’t but we’ll figure that out today!

Rifle Hunting

For kids who have hunters as moms and dads, gaining custody of the family rifle is a dream come true. I mean just think about all the movies and tv shows where the kid excitingly receives their first gun. It’s a trope for a reason.

It’s magical but also requires a lot of responsibility. Learning to use a gun properly is extremely paramount and is a lot more dangerous. You can always practice bow shooting and have it be relatively safe provided you have no broadheads on the arrow. The same cannot be said with practicing with a rifle. You need to make sure you’re always handling your rifle correctly. Making sure you know how to carry; load and shoot is crucial.

However, learning some of the basics to rifle hunting can be a bit easier to bow hunting. It doesn’t mean it’s ultimately easier once you get to a certain level because there are some issues that Rifle hunting has that bow hunting doesn’t. But I’ll start with the pros first

Pros

  • Ability to harvest game at longer distances (between 50-300 yards).
  • With practice, scopes allow for pinpoint shot placement.
  • A powerful weapon that takes down big game more easily. 
  • Less physically demanding to shoot than typical bows.
  • Requires less time to develop skills.

However here are the Cons

Cons

  • Must have land or gun ranges for practicing (up to 200 yards minimum). 
  • More restricted in some hunting districts.
  • Typically, shorter seasons.
  • Must draw special tags for most antlerless deer or elk hunting opportunities.
  • Ammunition is expensive and a recurring cost.
  • Risk of more damaged meat or losing meat to lead exposure. 

Bow Hunting

There’s beauty in simplicity and often greater reward for increased effort. That’s part of the appeal for many archery hunters. Quietly stalking a bull elk or mature buck and silently knocking an arrow a mere 30 yards from an animal on high alert is thrilling. Add to this that bow hunting has longer historical significance than any firearm and you can see the appeal bowhunting might have to a new hunter.

I’ve done a bit of bow hunting myself with friends, it’s so much fun but it does require a ton of patience and a lot more prep work with understanding when or when not to take shots and even accounting for weather more when going to hunt. It’s a challenge.

Pros

  • Longer hunting seasons, on average. Plus, earlier and later seasons than gun hunting.
  • In Western states, archery seasons overlap peak elk rut.
  • Do not need a lot of room to practice.  
  • Do not need to keep buying boxes of shells for practice and hunting. Arrows are reusable.
  • Bowhunting opens up access to more than big game. Turkey, bear, and grouse can be taken with the same bow. 
  • In many states, antlerless game can be taken with over-the-counter tags.
  • Cleaner kills when we make them. No risk of damaged or lead-exposed meat.
  • Special access to hunting units in some states (including inside city limits, along river bottoms, or near developed areas) since the effective range of bowhunting is much smaller than with guns.

Cons

  • Getting close to big game can be difficult. Odds of success might be lower for newer hunters. Most game will be taken between 10-50 yards. 
  • Things wear out more quickly. Strings need replacement every few years and parts break.
  • Especially in the South, archery season can be hot, so extra care preserving game meat must be taken.
  • Most rutting activity for deer takes place well after early archery seasons. 
  • Requires a certain amount of physical ability to draw a bow.

There’s a lot of difference between bow hunting and rifle hunting. Personally, to me, I’m more of a bow hunting person. I think because I do it more with my friends and I’ve started when I was little, even though I’m still not great at it. None of them has a direct advantage over the other one-sideily. I’d say try doing both, just to get used to the other slightly. You might appreciate it! Thank you for reading and have a great day!

 

 

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