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I’ll explain- For the first time in my life I actually have a place to hunt this year. I joined a really cool club made up of some very nice guys. So as I’m wrapping my mind around the fact that I finally get to live out this dream I’ve held for so long, I started formulating my plans/ideas. I find that I keep coming back to my desire to bowhunt, even though I just bought a really nice new rifle last year. Why?

Let me point out that I’ve NEVER killed anything with a bow and I’ve only hunted with a bow like 5 times. But I would rather do that than rifle hunt. I have always loved challenging myself, maybe that’s it? It’s like regular fishing vs fly fishing. One is far more challenging and is almost like an art, and I love it. My friends/wife don’t understand. I love guns, I own guns, but I would rather go shoot a bow any day. It’s therapeutic and I don’t understand why. I assume most people on here feel the same way, so at least I know I’m not alone in my craziness. I joined here awhile back and fell on hard times. I had bought a used bow to get back into the sport and should have waited. A few months later one of the limbs started splintering so I packed it up and haven’t pulled a string since 2019. Things are better now, we are doing better than ever actually. I found out my bow is too old and can’t be fixed so now I am gearing up to buy a new one. I can guarantee the guys in this club won’t see me with a rifle much...

So what’s your explanation when people ask??
 

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I grew up fishing and small game hunting with my very involved father. He was sitting next to me when I killed my first whitetail buck with a rifle. However dad wasn't a bowhunter and once I was smitten with archery, everything else dimmed in comparison. Due to my busy college and early married life schedules, it took me a few years to score a whitetail with a bow but was well worth the wait and learning curve. I regret totally abandoning firearms hunting for 30 years as I missed out on time with dad and family, but you only learn that in retrospect. The past few seasons I have once again taken up a rifle on opening day to be with friends who are unable to bowhunt due to injuries and such. Having killed a handful of deer with a firearm, it is enjoyable as a process but not nearly as exciting as sitting in a stand or blind watching a deer get closer with a bow in hand.
 

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Great post! So many answers to this question. I have killed over 100 big game animals with a rifle over the years. I remember distinctly a couple of those harvest. I have harvested around 30 big game animals using archery equipment and I remember every detail about every one of those harvest! About 15 years ago I pretty much hung up the rifle as those hunts just didn’t present enough of a challenge and satisfation. I almost felt guilty killing a rutted up mule deer buck chasing a doe. They didn‘t stand a chance against the old 30.06. Archery gives me longer seasons, less hunting pressure, and challenges me everyday on the range and the tree stand. Some of my best days hunting never resulted in a harvest. Archery to me is just pure joy and I dread the day I can’t do it.
 

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for me it's the unknown. every deer i have shot with a rifle has fell right where it stood and they were dead in less than 10 seconds. my first bow kill i watched the deer run 50 yards and right before it was going to go on the other side of the hill it did the death wobble and died. i knew i made a good shot but when i kept running i started to doubt myself but then watching it fall over confirmed my initial belief of making a good shot, it was a dang emotional rollercoaster but it was so exciting and an experience i won't forget. every deer i have shot since then has been the same kind of reaction. i knew i made a good shot but when they run off and you have to take up a blood trail and wonder if you made a bad shot but end up finding them it is just so dang exciting, an experience i haven't had with a rifle. i still do enjoy rifle hunting when it gets really really cold but there is no replacing shooting an animal with a bow

great post!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Great post! So many answers to this question. I have killed over 100 big game animals with a rifle over the years. I remember distinctly a couple of those harvest. I have harvested around 30 big game animals using archery equipment and I remember every detail about every one of those harvest! About 15 years ago I pretty much hung up the rifle as those hunts just didn’t present enough of a challenge and satisfation. I almost felt guilty killing a rutted up mule deer buck chasing a doe. They didn‘t stand a chance against the old 30.06. Archery gives me longer seasons, less hunting pressure, and challenges me everyday on the range and the tree stand. Some of my best days hunting never resulted in a harvest. Archery to me is just pure joy and I dread the day I can’t do it.
That’s amazing, thank you for sharing! I guess it’s just the intimacy of the entire hunt, as opposed to knowing I can take anything out within a 400 yard circle of me. Like you said, hunting is the only thing in life where I don’t mind being “unsuccessful”. Just happy to be in the woods.


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for me it's the unknown. every deer i have shot with a rifle has fell right where it stood and they were dead in less than 10 seconds. my first bow kill i watched the deer run 50 yards and right before it was going to go on the other side of the hill it did the death wobble and died. i knew i made a good shot but when i kept running i started to doubt myself but then watching it fall over confirmed my initial belief of making a good shot, it was a dang emotional rollercoaster but it was so exciting and an experience i won't forget. every deer i have shot since then has been the same kind of reaction. i knew i made a good shot but when they run off and you have to take up a blood trail and wonder if you made a bad shot but end up finding them it is just so dang exciting, an experience i haven't had with a rifle. i still do enjoy rifle hunting when it gets really really cold but there is no replacing shooting an animal with a bow

great post!
Thanks bud. I seriously can’t wait to get on that rollercoaster.


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Archery is much more of a challenge. So many more factors involved just to have the opportunity for a shot. One of the biggest attractions is early season ( before gun season opens) when the deer are in a natural pattern and haven’t been spooked yet.
 

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I, like many others, started hunted as a young 12yo boy. shot my first deer/buck that year with my dad by my side. i was instantly hooked on hunting from that point on and for the next 13 years the firearm season was all i knew and i loved it. Over those years i harvested several deer and i’ve always been patient and let them come “too close” according to my dad and my hunting party. lots of “were you waiting until he was IN your stand before shooting?” jokes.

Eventually I got bored of using a rifle. The challenge was gone. Each harvest became less and less special. I decided to try bow hunting and instantly fell in love. The challenge was back and very real. The extra scouting, the longer season, learning things like shooting form, better scent control, playing the wind, fine tuning the bow, etc was addicting. The adrenaline rush of watching a deer come in from 100+ yards to 20 before shooting...not because i could this time but because i had to. Sitting out in the woods like a fly on the wall and just letting nature do it’s thing like i wasn’t even there...it’s just therapeutic. i too find that bow hunting is hard to explain to a firearm only hunter or non hunter like my wife but my go to answer is always the significant challenge increase and therapy.

i have a good friend who’s a lifetime duck/goose hunter. he did his first bow hunt last year after owning a bow for 6+ years. he only had time for a few weeks of hunting until he had report for his deployment. I helped him scout and setup his stand showing him how to find sign and setup downwind from a hot trail. He called me after his first morning sit and the first words out of his mouth were “I’m hooked! That was awesome!” He didn’t even see a deer! It’s just something about it

I still hunt firearm season every year too because it’s the only hunting my dad does and i cherish that time with him. He won’t be around forever and i don’t wanna miss it as time passes by.


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hunting with a bow demanded that I become a better hunter, which made being in the woods even more fun!
and that in turn helps you pick thru the BS some hunter spread around
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I, like many others, started hunted as a young 12yo boy. shot my first deer/buck that year with my dad by my side. i was instantly hooked on hunting from that point on and for the next 13 years the firearm season was all i knew and i loved it. Over those years i harvested several deer and i’ve always been patient and let them come “too close” according to my dad and my hunting party. lots of “were you waiting until he was IN your stand before shooting?” jokes.

Eventually I got bored of using a rifle. The challenge was gone. Each harvest became less and less special. I decided to try bow hunting and instantly fell in love. The challenge was back and very real. The extra scouting, the longer season, learning things like shooting form, better scent control, playing the wind, fine tuning the bow, etc was addicting. The adrenaline rush of watching a deer come in from 100+ yards to 20 before shooting...not because i could this time but because i had to. Sitting out in the woods like a fly on the wall and just letting nature do it’s thing like i wasn’t even there...it’s just therapeutic. i too find that bow hunting is hard to explain to a firearm only hunter or non hunter like my wife but my go to answer is always the significant challenge increase and therapy.

i have a good friend who’s a lifetime duck/goose hunter. he did his first bow hunt last year after owning a bow for 6+ years. he only had time for a few weeks of hunting until he had report for his deployment. I helped him scout and setup his stand showing him how to find sign and setup downwind from a hot trail. He called me after his first morning sit and the first words out of his mouth were “I’m hooked! That was awesome!” He didn’t even see a deer! It’s just something about it

I still hunt firearm season every year too because it’s the only hunting my dad does and i cherish that time with him. He won’t be around forever and i don’t wanna miss it as time passes by.


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Alright, you win. Literally a perfect explanation. I have an 11 yr old son that I can’t wait to introduce to hunting the way your dad did!


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Picked up a bow because I was bored and my FIL had given it to me. Within minutes I was hooked. First time I was out hunting and I could hear the deer coming but not see em yet, I was hooked. Then came the first buck, first treestand hunt, first doe kill. Then learning to scout, finding my own spots, learning the woods in a new way. I grew up outside but bowhunting taught me more about nature in a season then all the rock climbing, rafting, camping, hiking did in 30 years. It fulfills a part of me in a way that is hard to put into words, something primal and instinctive. In all the chaos of the world I find peace and beauty, and time with the Creator.
 

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For me it's the intensity level. To me there is no comparison in adrenaline / intensity level, Bow Vs Rifle. Never once did I get type writer legs post shot with rifle. Hray
 
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I started when I was 12 years old and I bow hunted for 23 years before killing my first deer. I don't suck anymore so I can kill as many as I want for the season but just sitting in a tree in a comfy ladderstand is just priceless. I usually carry my bow with me during gun season along with my 270, that way if a huge buck comes into archery range I can use my bow. I can't imagine wasting a awesome chance at a awesome buck with my 270.

My brother and I are now hunting during gun season at a archery only public land so that we can enjoy gun season all alone with our bows.
 

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I like a few others in here started hunting with a gun. I was raised in a gun hunting family. I shot a lot of deer, and a few bears with rifles over the years. I dabbled in archery in my teens, and managed to shoot a few deer. The problem was I was self taught, and without anyone to guide me I formed some terrible shooting habits. I ended up giving it up thinking it just wasn't my calling. Fast forward to my mid 20's. I was tired of gun hunting. It felt like i was going to the woods sitting in the same spot year after year. The deer would walk out and I would pull the trigger. That was it I wasn't a hunter I was a trigger puller. So I bought a entry level bow, and struggled to retrain myself the right way to shoot it. 5 years later I can shoot pretty dang well. I've also taught myself how to actually hunt in that amount of time. Now I 100% love trying to get within 30 yards of these animals. I will say though that One saddle system, and flagship bow later, and I can now say that its an obsession a very expensive one lol.
 

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I'm sure the answer is different for everyone. For me I hung up the rifle in favor of bow initially because it opened up more opportunities. The season is much longer, there is less competition with other hunters, and I've got access to some private land that happens to be in a bow only area. The biggest of those is less competition, before switching to bow I was a public land rifle hunter that had to compete with hundreds of thousands of other hunters all hitting the woods during the same 2-3 week stretch. There were too many years where I put in a lot of work to scout new areas far away from roads that took a ton of effort to get into and then sun up on opening morning comes and I look out from my tree to see the dots of orange all over the landscape. Apparently everyone else has the same ideas as me. I felt like none of us were really "hunting" the animal we were just waiting in the woods hoping another hunter would randomly bump a deer by you.

I feel like with a bow there is less competition and more room to get away from other hunters, at least here in MN. This gives you the chance to really hunt the animal. You can scout and do your homework to pattern the deer, and reasonably expect the deer to be acting like deer. It makes the game way more fun when its you vs the deer rather than you vs the other 100 hunters around you. The game is also way more intense and personal with a bow. With a rifle you just need to set up so a deer walks within a couple hundred yards of you, with a bow you've got to set up so that deer walks within 40 yards of you. It takes a lot more thinking, acting and reacting, and when you're successful its way more satisfying.

Another factor is that as much work as it takes to learn your rifle and become proficient it takes 10x that to become proficient with a bow. There is a certain amount of dedication to the craft that is required to even get started. Most people could pick up a rifle and see reasonable proficiency fairly quickly, I don't think thats true with a bow. That sort of plays into my personality. I don't dabble in things very much, I'm either all in or all out on something. If i do it I'm probably going to get a bit obsessive over it wanting to learn it and become good at it. Archery and bow hunting is perfect for that mindset, theres never a point where you've learned it all or mastered it.
 

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Alright, you win. Literally a perfect explanation. I have an 11 yr old son that I can’t wait to introduce to hunting the way your dad did!


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my son is only 3, but i too can’t wait! at least to get him out in a ground blind in 3 years or so...i’m fortunate to have access to private land where im guaranteed to see deer every day i go out...not always within range but fun to watch


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For me it is like others have said, these days I really like that I have to be a better hunter and get closer.
I too started at 12 years old with my dad, rifle in hand. He actually had me following him around hunting since I was 9 or 10, he would let me pack an old sxs .410 and shoot grouse if we happened upon one...towards the end of his deer hunt anyway lol. Around 18 or 19 I started going archery elk hunting with a couple friends. I had shot bows since I was a kid, recurves and then a compound, always with fingers and instinctively. When I started elk hunting I setup a compound with sights, peep, and release aid. I was more hooked with hunting screaming elk during the rut at the beginning, but did also enjoy shooting the bow. That just kept progressing and I started going to a lot of 3d shoots and greatly enjoyed those too. I have not missed a single archery elk season since, I'm now 47. Still go to 3-5 3d shoots a year. It took me quite a while to get my first elk, sure wish at the beginning I'd have known what I know now, but I have many memories of encounters that were amazing and I never even drew my bow.
In Idaho you get one tag, and it is mostly "choose your weapon" for elk, so for many years I archery hunted elk and rifle hunted whitetail so I could still use both. Shooting whitetail 300-500 yards across a canyon started getting boring. I also hunted them in the timber, definitely harder for a mature buck, but I could usually always just head for farm ground and punch my tag within a couple hunts. Archery whitetail season is at the same time as elk, so I never bothered targeting deer during that time. The fall whitetail season is any weapon and goes through the rut, but the last 10 years or so I've started using either a traditional muzzleloader or a bow for that season too. I've moved to hunting whitetail solely in timber and just find it much more exciting and challenging to have to get closer to them. I used to always still hunt, but do way more ambush hunting for them these days, out of a blind or tree stand. My cap lock black powder rifle with patched round ball is almost as much of an addiction as archery is. I basically give myself a 40 yard max with a bow and a 100 yard max with the cap lock. I take whichever one I'm craving the most that day. This last season it was the bow about 75% of the time, there simply isn't a better sense of accomplishment than taking one with the bow to me.
With the current shortage of firearm supplies, I also enjoy telling people that I just pull my arrows and use them again when they talk about using up ammo and how expensive it is to replace it again right now, if they can even find some.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
I don't dabble in things very much, I'm either all in or all out on something. If i do it I'm probably going to get a bit obsessive over it wanting to learn it and become good at it. Archery and bow hunting is perfect for that mindset, theres never a point where you've learned it all or mastered it.
Wow, I feel like you just spoke directly into my soul with that one haha. Love your insight, thanks!


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I’ve hunted for 20 years with a rifle and last year was my first season with a bow. I hunt open country whitetails and elk so it’s a lot of spot and stalk. I only mention that to preface that I didn’t get a bow to chase a more challenging pursuit. Plenty of challenge in spot and stalk rifle hunting, especially post elk rut.
After my first week out there in the elk rut with a bow I had more, intimate, raw experiences than I had accumulated in my entire life of rifle hunting. The interactions with the animals and the environment that is forced on you just by the very nature of carrying a bow is everything! My hunt with a rifle would’ve ended several times over where it was just beginning with the bow, and what followed every one of those moments was incredible! I gained an entirely new perspective and respect for the animals, while at the same time gaining at least as much humility in my own hunting abilities. The experiences and the lessons were so valuable. It’s renewed a passion for me for sure. Ive spent the months from then to now immersed in preparation for next bow season. I’ve never felt that way about rifle hunting.
It is difficult to articulate, but I just know that I’ve found a passion like very few pursuits I’ve undertaken before. I’ve found profound rewards even without “success”, and I can only imagine the reward when the process ends in the ultimate goal.
 
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