By Cassie Gasaway
If you’re not a bowhunter, you might wonder, “Why do people bowhunt?”
People join the sport for different reasons. Some think it’s fun or challenging, while others like the meat or camaraderie. Others bowhunt to spend time alone or in nature, while some folks hunt to conserve wildlife and wild places. Whatever the reason, bowhunting has a lot to offer.
If you’re on the fence about bowhunting, here are 10 reasons to try it this year.
If you enjoy eating meat, do you know where your meat comes from? Bowhunting is a great alternative to purchasing meat at the grocery store, because the deer meat (venison) is harvested ethically and sustainably. Plus, the average adult deer yields about 50 pounds of lean, nutritious, free-range protein, which easily freezes for year-round meals. Venison is a healthy alternative to beef because it’s low in fat and cholesterol, and high in vitamin B6 and B12, and Omega-3 fatty acids. Substitute it for store-bought beef in recipes like tacos, chili and spaghetti.
Bowhunting allows you to see the world and wildlife in unique ways. Tote your bow and arrow to public land in your home state, as well as to different states and countries. Each bowhunt you experience and animal you pursue is a new adventure because you never know what you’ll see or run into. Think stunning sunrises, rare wildlife, or even a 70-million-year-old dinosaur bone. No matter what happens, we can almost guarantee your heart will race and your knees will tremble with excitement, especially when you draw back on an animal. Bowhunting offers an adrenaline rush like no other.
Spend time with friends and family while practicing and preparing to bowhunt. Shooting with others or in competition is a great way to improve your shot. Buddy hunting or hunting with a mentor is also fun. Don’t know anyone else who bowhunts? Archery shops, shooting ranges and public land parking lots are great places to meet other bowhunters. You’ll quickly find yourself talking, laughing and sharing hunting stories. Bowhunting makes connecting with like-minded people easy.
Although bowhunting offers many chances to interact with others, it also allows you to escape from people, technology and your problems. Bowhunting alone is peaceful and relaxing. It’s the perfect opportunity to calm your mind or contemplate your thoughts.
Whether you hunt alone or with friends, you’ll likely enjoy immersing yourself in nature. According to a study sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency, the average employed American spends 92 percent of their time indoors. Therefore, it’s nice to get outside to breathe fresh air, feel the wind on your face and hear birds cheerfully chirping in the distance. Many bowhunters say being in a blind or treestand feels freeing. Some studies prove nature benefits our health and happiness by decreasing depression and improving your mood and self-esteem. As it turns out, a bowhunt a day might keep the doctor away.
Bowhunting builds muscles and strengthens your cardiovascular system. You’ll often climb hills, carry gear and treestands, and haul meat from the woods. All these things improve your lungs, heart and circulatory system. Walking back and forth to your target to retrieve your arrows burns calories, too. Plus, drawing a bow and regularly shooting strengthens your arms, core, hands, chest and shoulders.
Bowhunters fuel conservation. Each time you buy a hunting license and equipment, a portion of your purchase goes to state wildlife agencies and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Those entities use the revenues to fund high-priority conservation projects including habit restoration, hunter education, wildlife research, and public-access programs. Those efforts ensure hunting and bowhunting opportunities are around for generations to come. If you take your physical health and conservation benefits into account, the hunt is good for you and the environment.
Compared to gun hunting, bowhunting provides longer seasons and access to restricted hunting areas. You’ll have more opportunities to reap all the benefits bowhunting has to offer. During the early season, you might have the chance to shoot a buck in velvet. Plus, many state agencies hold special seasons in urban areas for bowhunters. Arrows don’t travel as far as bullets, so bowhunting is often an acceptable form of hunting in highly populated areas.
To be a successful bowhunter, you must be stealthy, get close to game, and fine-tune your shooting skills. You must also accurately guess the distance to your target. White-tailed deer have incredible senses – always push yourself to learn more about their habits so you can outsmart them and get within bow range. Being a bowhunter forces you to challenge your mental and physical abilities, too.
Lastly, bowhunting is loads of fun. You’ll catch yourself smiling each time you see a deer, hit a bull’s-eye and make a new friend. Harvesting an animal is also a rewarding and gratifying experience. You’ll feel an overwhelming sense of accomplishment knowing you had the skills, knowledge, and confidence to make a well-placed shot and a humane harvest.
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