Anachronism of Time – Philosophy of the Hunt

Time is relative, and none of us seem to have enough.

Every day is measured by exactly the same number of hours, minutes, and seconds, but every day moves at its own pace, some are slow and drag on seemingly endlessly, and some are so fast you wonder how the hours were pressed down into mere minutes.

Hectic describes the pace our modern world has set for most of us, yet the days tend to slip by slow and the years fast.

How we perceive time is fascinating. Hunting is the best way I know to truly experience the essence of time.

I happen to have the opportunity to talk informally to a lot of non-hunters about every day subjects. Since hunting is my passion the subject usually comes up.

One of the first questions that usually arise after I explain a bit about my hunting is, “How can you sit still for so long?” My sits on stand almost always last five to six hours, and I have been known to spend entire days, and even several days sitting in one spot.

This seems so unnatural in our world of constant stimulation from our televisions, computers, smart phones, and chronic attention deficit disorder.

Initially, I didn’t really have an answer to how I do this except that I’ve been hunting for a long time and that I’ve grown used to it. Eventually though I realized that sitting perfectly still in wait for game is a normal, if not necessary, aspect of being human. Our very physiology as humans was created by our being predators. Most of what predators do is simply sit and wait for opportunity.

Doing nothing actively is a great way to describe hunting. When I slip into the woods with a weapon in hand –the weapon is critical because no camera will ever make food for you, and that is a fine but defining difference- and settle in several things happen physiologically.

The first is an immediate heightening of all my senses, and pointed attention to those senses. Every sound, smell, caress of wind, and movement is scrutinized for importance, nothing is ignored.

The heightening is followed by relaxation where my breathing and heart rate both slow. This then leads to a state of measured attentiveness that is complete but relaxed. I observe everything but steal away inside myself and let my thoughts wander. The best comparison is Zen meditation.

The irony of this is that it is an example of a religion hijacking a state that any experienced hunter can reach, and then selling it as some major achievement for their own twisted benefit. Buddhism certainly isn’t alone here. The point is that hunting is the original form of meditation.

That Inuit on the ice waiting for a seal to stick his nose into an air hole for hours on end is meditating through his hunt. We as humans are only able to meditate because we are predators.

So the essence of hunt is that meditation actually shortens time, and makes hours seem like minutes. After a long fall of deer hunting I can sit for six or seven hours with such ease that I am almost surprised at myself.

The second aspect of time contrary to modern civilization in hunting the simple necessity to accept time as it is. When you scout for hunting spots there is basically only one question to answer. “When will that buck, boar, or bull be in this very spot?” The art of hunting lies in answering that question.

Knowing the answer lets you know when you also have to be there. Wild animals follow their own schedule and have all the time in the world. In order to make a kill you have to simply accept the time the animals have given, you cannot force your hand and hunt well. You have to adjust your busy schedule to a natural schedule of movement over which you have no influence.

Only when you accept the reality of the time that game follows will you be successful as a hunter. Hunters have the ability to accept total reality of time as it is, not as they wish it would be.

Living in the real, here and now, is a hunter’s natural state of awareness. He isn’t fooled as easily by smoke and mirrors of virtual fantasy worlds.

The third aspect of time that hunters regularly experience is time slowing down. Every hunter will tell you fast a hunt went by on an outing where he was fortunate to observe game the entire time. The ultimate slowing of time takes place during a kill.

This experience is almost too complex and intense to describe. When a target animal approaches and a hunter decides to attempt to make a kill the first thing that happens is a jolt of adrenaline shoots through his body.

In inexperienced hunters this leads to almost hyperventilation and extreme shaking that is known as buck fever. In seasoned hunters the almost the opposite happens.

After a jolt of adrenaline their heart rate returns almost to normal and they focus entirely on their target animal. The hunter’s entire world narrows to the act of making a killing shot, to the act of making meat.

Every step, indeed every breath, of their prey is noted, and time slows to the point that perception notices fractions of seconds in incredible detail. I like to call this one pointed focus. One pointed focus is a state of absolute concentration, where the world narrows to a single point of awareness to the exclusion of everything else, and time almost ceases. This is the magic, the numinous if you will, of the hunt.

This is the point where life is the most real and utterly honest. And this is the anachronism time. The beauty of the hunt.

Hunting is the real world. The anachromism of reality is irony in a virtual existence.

Notes from the Mystery Machine – Hunting Log 2012

The Mystery Machine

The Mystery Machine is about to roll. The Mystery Machine is the name my brother gave my minivan a couple years ago.

For over a decade I have been venturing out across the country chasing hunting adventure on a shoestring budget. I’ve owned a series of vans, and somehow within my hunting circle they became associated with Scooby Doo, the association though somewhat dubious has stuck. The first one was dubbed Scooby. The second became known as Scrappy. And, the third is the Mystery Machine.

Originally, I hunted out of a Pontiac sedan, and slept in the back seat. That turned out to be rather uncomfortable. For more comfort I began bringing a tent along, but that wasn’t practical in farm country, and was only really an advantage for packing in a ways, which I almost never had to do in typical whitetail country.

I then bought a small Chevy truck and put a topper on it. I slept in the back while on hunts. Having a solid roof over my head and a place to cook on the back bumper was a big step up in comfort.

The final step was the minivan, which in my estimation is the perfect hunting setup.

The minivan allows direct access to the back of the van. When you remove the seats you have more than enough room for all you gear, and you also have enough room for sleeping and cooking.

And, if you happen to kill something you can fit it easily in the back.

Over the years I have become more and more organized and now have a set of plastic tubs for all my gear on one side, and a bunk on the other, along with a heater designed for inside.

I carry all the food and water I need, and also carry enough water to wash and practice scent control.

Hunting adventure is what you make it. I don’t really have enough money for big time hunts across the U.S. so my solution is DIY hunting from my van.

I love to roam, and hunt new terrain. My favorite way to hunt is just to show up somewhere and figure out how to hunt there.

My goals vary. Sometimes any deer is my goal, other times a mature buck is what I’m after. Testing your skill by going in blind is pure hunting. Hunting manicured whitetail properties is pleasant, but after everything is set up the hunting basically ends as far as I’m concerned.

Sure you still have to put in time, and make the shot, but the magic of the truly wild is somehow lost. On my shoestring hunts where I end up is often a mystery. The association with the name should be obvious in that last sentence.

One time I decided to hunt in Missouri, so I started in the northeast corner of the state and kept moving west until I found a tract of public land that held some big mature bucks, and wasn’t slammed with hunters. I took me ten days of searching to find the right spot.

When I found it I hunted for a week and ended up having an encounter with a giant eight pointer that ended with the buck getting the best of me.

I often locate tracts of public land and just drive out and hunt. This was the case in North Dakota and Nebraska. Sometimes I connect with friends along the way. Where he goes nobody knows.

My Mystery Machine hunting journey is about to begin. This year I’m starting with a bear hunt in northern Maine, before heading west. Along the way I will be posting stories and pictures from my journey. Come along with me in the Mystery Machine.

My Mystery Machine hunting journey is about to begin.  This year I’m starting with a bear hunt in northern Maine, before heading west. Along the way I will be posting stories and pictures from my journey.  Come along with me in the Mystery Machine.

van loaded

P.S. I get out of my van once in a while and get back into the woods.

Second Shift Midday Bowhunting for Whitetails

I was just plain embarrassed on that rut-time November morning about fifteen years ago.

For no good reason I just didn’t get out of bed.

In an attempt to save face, and avoid the razzing from my father and brother, I decided to do something I had never done before, head for the woods at the time most hunters would be exiting from their morning hunt.

Departing before my hunting companions returned I made for a tree at around 9:30, and quickly set up in the thick travel route behind a standing cornfield.

My intention was to sit until dark. Honestly, I didn’t expect to see many deer until evening, but at least I could prove my determination to my hunting partners.

Shortly after 11:00 the first deer of the day ambled slowly into view, a single mature doe. She was followed, at intervals, by fifteen other deer, including four different young bucks.

The immature bucks were chasing wildly, and the action was intense, until 3:30 p.m.. Then, just when most hunters should have been making for their evening hunts, the action came to a screeching halt.

The only deer I saw after that was another single doe that cautiously ghosted through right at dark.

Since that day hunting this timeframe, which I’ve come to call second shift bowhunting, has become standard in my hunting routine. Bowhunting the second shift is something every serious bowhunter should consider.

General Deer Behavior

Its no secret that deer move during mid-day.

Numerous studies have shown that deer are naturally crepuscular with another peak in movement between 11:00 am and 2:00 pm. In areas where there is even moderate hunting pressure I believe deer adjust to the normal hunter timeframe by becoming more nocturnal, and by moving more during midday.

Considering that deer generally pattern hunters far better than the other way around, encounters with bowhunters on a normal hunting schedule simply reinforces a natural behavior pattern.

Also, a large portion of mature buck rut activity takes place during this same time frame. This mid-day deer movement goes mostly unnoticed because it almost always takes place in thick cover, or even within bedding areas.

A second shift approach can put you in position to intercept this mid-day deer movement pattern, a pattern that particularly mature bucks tend to utilize.

Why Hunt the Second Shift

Whenever I mention second shift hunting usually the first question I get is, “Why not simply hunt all day?”  All day hunting is something most hunters like to talk about, but very few actually practice.

I happen to hunt all day long quite often, and admit that it can be a grueling experience when the action is slow. Cutting four to six hours off an all day hunt can sure reduce stand fatigue. There is definitely a deer movement lull around 9:30.

I like to use this little fact to my advantage. Often this means I will get out of the woods early after a morning of little or no action, grab a quick bite, and return within an hour, usually to a fresh stand site.

Another reason to opt for the second shift is changing conditions. In mid October of 2005 I awoke at 4:00 a.m. to temperatures of over 70 degrees. At about 11:00 a.m. the temperature dropped dramatically. Seeing an opportunity, I decided to spend the remainder of the day on stand. After watching deer virtually all day I arrowed a mature nine pointer near dark. Weather conditions that promise instant deer movement simply have to be hunted.

Yet another reason to hunt the second shift is simple bodily fatigue. When I am out on a hunt I sometimes get worn down after a week or so. When this happens I will sleep in one morning and hunt the second shift. I find sleeping in rejuvinates my body and energy level far more than a midday nap does.

Best Conditions

There are certain weather conditions, and deer movement periods, that are fortuitous to second shift hunting. Like I just mentioned, rain is a good time to practice this type of hunting.

Deer love to move in wet conditions, ranging from fog to a light steady rain. When wet conditions are in the forecast it is good to plan a second shift hunt, no matter what time of season. On the opposite end of the weather spectrum, during the early season, or during unseasonably warm or dry spells, I like to do second shift hunts near hidden water sources.

I’ve often witnessed deer drinking just after the hottest part of the day, usually between 2:00 and 4:00 pm. I once arrowed a nice ten pointer by setting up next to a water hole at 11:00 am. Deer started showing up around 2:00 pm, and shortly thereafter two nice bucks bedded within range but protected by cover.

Though I didn’t get my shot off until a couple hours later, if I had hunted that spot in the normal bowhunter timeframe I would have spooked those bucks.

Of course, the best time to engage in second shift hunting is during the rut phases. That bucks are on their feet either scent checking for does, or tending does during midday is a well established fact. I find it best to wait for either very cold, or simply, inclement weather for second shift hunts, even at this time.

During a full moon, when there is a clear sky, I have notice there is a little more midday deer activity than normal, and less morning and evening movement. If the moon is full and you are just not seeing the deer you should be, try a second shift hunt.

The last condition for second shift hunting is simply having the time to hunt. While hunting I personally can’t understand not giving one hundred percent. You can’t kill a deer, if you’re not hunting.

Sitting around the house, cabin, or camp during the day during deer season is something that I find nearly unbearable. Hunting that midday movement period is a golden opportunity to increase your chances at a mature buck. You never know what might happen, it might be boom or bust. If there isn’t anything urgent that I have to do, I will simply spend most of the day on stand.


As I mentioned earlier much of deer’s daytime activity goes unnoticed by hunters. For a second shift hunt to potentially be successful you have to be in the right location.

You should select stands that are well within cover, as close to bedding as you can get without spooking deer by your approach. During the early season, along with the water as I mentioned above, some good second shift spots are hidden soft or hard mast trees, and travel routes surrounded by thick cover.

A white oak or apple tree close to bedding are potential hotspots. There will be competition for these food sources, and mature bucks may make mid-day visits. Hidden travel routes, like a creek bottom though a woods, are used regularly during the day.

Later in the season I like to hunt funnels between bedding areas, that bucks scent checking for hot does might pass through. Other rut time second shift spots are primary scrape areas and rut staging areas. Primary scrape areas are always in spots with heavy deer traffic, and are the first places bucks go to scent check for estrous does.

Cruising bucks will stop and bed, stage, at rut staging areas during mid-day and wait to catch the afternoon doe movement. If a doe comes through that is close to estrous, the buck will follow. During the rut phases it is critical to take advantage of this midday movement as much as possible.


Running out into the woods for an extra long hunt just like you would for a short evening sit is setting yourself up for discomfort. Besides a comfortable stand, I almost always hunt out of an Ambush Saddle, which is extemely comfortable for long sits, there are a couple items you should bring along.

To remain comfortable and alert you have to maintain a constant energy level. If your stomach starts growling it will distract you from the hunt. I always pack a few high energy food items.

This usually includes an apple, or two, a granola or power bar, and some chocolate, along with various Wilderness Athlete products. A quick bite when the battery starts to run low can do wonders for your concentration. Of course, a small water bottle is always in my pack as well.

Another item that I consider critical is a pee bottle. It’s almost impossible to sit for more than four hours without having to relieve yourself. Considering deer’s sense of smell and the enormous effort most bowhunters go through to remain as scent free as possible, it would be foolish to go splashing urine around your tree.

Also, an item you might consider is distraction material. By this I mean a magazine or book, or whatever you need to keep you in a stand.

Personally, I am so focused on my surroundings while hunting that I have never been able to read, or do anything else on stand, however some hunters need material to keep their mind occupied while hunting.

The last item that is absolutely essential to second shift hunting is lightweight rain gear. No matter what the weather is like when you head out hunting, it can change in a flash. A set of thin windproof rain gear will protect you from both water, wind, and a sudden drop in temperature.

A suit won’t take up much space in a pack. I learned about packing rain gear the hard way. After not doing so one afternoon I missed a shot at a huge eight pointer because of a case of near hypothermia.

That particular day started out in the high eighties, but a few hours into my hunt dropped down into the forties. After freezing for a couple hours I decided to leave, only to see the buck on approach while my bow was already hanging on my bow-rope half way to the ground.

A quick attempt at recovery and a very shakey hurried shot was met solidly by a branch I thought I could shoot over.

Had I been protected by another layer I would have been sitting quietly on stand, and had time for a shot, still in my shooting lane, when that buck showed himself. For hunting, comfort, and safety reasons a set of rain gear needs to be in your pack on a long hunt.


Second shift bowhunting is a great way to remain rested and fresh while hunting hard and still take advantage of that important midday deer movement pattern.

Second shift hunting is also an opportunity to take advantage of changing conditions that mean bucks will be up and moving.

Hunting this timeframe has worked well for me, and it can work for you.

How an Arrow Kills?

It was quiet and there wasn’t the slightest breeze.

Chipmunks scurried about acoustic in their movements informing my ears of every step.

A moose passed by, probably a kilometer away, and I could hear every step. The steps were accompanied with the guttural music of an amorous bull.

For over three hours I sat as still as possible in my stand, listening, enjoying the sounds of autumn, and waiting patiently for a bear to show up.

A subtle movement among the shadows caught my attention and suddenly there it was.

A bear, or rather the head of a bear, peered out from the wall of spruce a mere eight meters away. The black bear looked right up at me in my treestand, three times, each time glancing towards the bait and then up the hill and back again.

Seeming unsure of the situation the bear cautiously stepped forward out of the shadows and turned up the hill, revealing a white scar on its shoulder.

It quickly turned back into the spruce, never offering a shot. Listening intently I tried to pick up the sound of footsteps, unsuccessfully.

My stand was positioned along an old logging road which enabled me virtually an unlimited view in either direction. In order to get to the bait the bear must invariably cross that road.

For fifty minutes I watched closely. Just as I was beginning to think the bear must have decided otherwise and departed that black head once again emerged from the shadows, this time staring at the bait from the other side.

Initially I thought it must be a different bear, but a few steps later that scar on its shoulder proved it the same Ursidae as before. The black bear’s ability to move through the forest silently is uncanny.

A friend of mine, and experienced bear hunter, once described it to me as “quieter than a mouse wearing slippers walking across a shag rug.”

Though this may be a mild exaggeration, black bears are indeed very quiet animals. The bear edged towards the bait, eased around the end of the barrel and looked inside, now quartering slightly away at twenty meters.

At full draw I anchored, and aimed carefully at the middle of the middle slightly back off the shoulder to compensate for the angle, and released. My arrow hit where I aimed and buried to the fletching with a loud crack.

In a blur the bear jumped sharply forward, slammed into the barrel, spun a circle, and bolted away, attempting to circle back. A second or two later an unforgettable death moan echoed through the Maine forest.

The bear had fallen a mere forty meters from where it stood at the shot. My arrow downed that bear in about three seconds. Impossible you say? Lucky shot? Or, is this a typical situation for a bowhunter?

One of the first questions that hunters unfamiliar with bowhunting ask is how an arrow kills? This is usually followed by some comparison to more familiar hunting rifles? And the final question asked is often regarding the effectiveness of the bow and arrow as a hunting weapon?

These are very legitimate questions and vitally important to anyone considering bowhunting, or simply considering bowhunting as a viable and ethical hunting form.

How an Arrow Kills

  • Generally speaking arrows tipped with razor sharp broadheads kill by cutting major blood vessels, both arteries and veins. This causes massive blood loss, reduced blood pressure, and loss of oxygen to the brain. This process is known as hemorrhagic shock.

    An animal needs to lose about one third of its blood volume for this to happen. This process can take from seconds to several hours depending on where an animal is hit.

  • Another way in which an arrow kills is by puncturing the lungs. Lungs are contained within a pneumatic lining that is airtight and functions like a vacuum allowing the animal to breath. When the lungs are punctured this function is disrupted and the lungs collapse.

    The collapse of the lungs is known as a pneumo-thorax, and interrupts the exchange of oxygen in blood.

    When this happens the supply of oxygen to the brain is immediately interrupted and death comes within seconds.

  • A third way that an arrow kills an animal is by cutting through the heart.

    Hitting the heart also causes death within seconds by stopping blood circulation, and again transport of oxygen to the brain.

Since the aiming point on all big game animals is the lung area, most good shots result in a combination of these three factors. If you hit the lungs you will automatically slice through numerous veins and arteries, causing death within seconds. The same goes for a heart shot.

The expedient expiration may sound like exaggeration until you see the wound channels caused by modern broadheads.

Typical modern broadheads have between two and four razor sharp blades with a cutting diameter mostly between 2.5 and 4 centimeters, depending on design. A typical three bladed broadhead creates a wound channel that has a circumference of almost 12 centimeters.

Any wound channel of this size through major organs such as lungs, heart, or liver causes excessive blood loss. A good solid sharp broadhead is critical for a hunting arrow to do its job effectively.

Shots outside of the chest cavity are equally deadly with bow and arrow.

These shots sometimes happen but should never be purposely attempted. Depending on the shot the chances of an expedient recovery vary.

Any arrow that errantly hits the abdominal cavity is without exception deadly. These animals die by a combination of hemorrhagic shock and peritonitis.

However, just like with a rifle, the time until exitus takes far longer with stomach and intestinal shots, and recovery of such a wounded animal can prove difficult.

Other possible shots, albeit poor ones, are shots to large muscles, such the back legs or neck. These shots can sometimes prove as fatal as quickly as a lung hit, if large arteries, such as the femoral artery, are hit.

In cases where large arteries are not hit recovering these animals is nearly impossible, because unlike bullet holes that blast a hole through muscle and tend to get infected, causing unavoidable slow death, clean slices of a razor sharp broadhead are far more likely to heal.

Most big game animals will survive such hits without notable hindrance. Spine shots are basically the last possibility. Again, these should never be purposefully attempted, but if a game animal’s spinal column is severed it will fall to the ground. Another arrow to the lung area is always necessary to dispatch such an animal.

Whether shooting bow and arrow or rifle a bad shot is a bad shot and I don’t want to dwell on this. Every hunter has a responsibility to take shots only within his effective range and ability regardless of which weapon at hand.

Arrow Bullet Comparison (Penetration)

For readers who are unfamiliar with bowhunting arrows and equipment it is helpful to describe how bullets and arrows differ in the way they impact and kill an animal.

Bullets kill by high energy impact that crushes both bone and tissue. They often immobilize animals by breaking major bones, and shocking the complete neural system. The common measure of this capacity is kinetic energy, measured in joules.

Most hunters are quite familiar with minimum joule requirements for hunting certain species in some countries.

Broadhead tipped arrows, on the other hand, kill by cutting vital tissue, and because of their form and physics of arrow flight do not need the excessive energy found in bullets to penetrate and kill effectively. Arrows will often times penetrate far deeper than a bullet through more economical use of far lower energy.

Let me explain: Bullets are dull projectiles that rely fully on energy to penetrate. The energy an arrow uses to penetrate an object is directed to a very sharp tip.

The difference can be demonstrated through a simple experiment. Strap a hide, or thick cloth, of any game animal to a solid frame. Pick up some rocks and try to throw the rocks through the hide from close range.

You will find this nearly impossible, sort of like digging a hole with a baseball bat. Now walk up to the hide with a sharp knife, or even just a pointed stick, and with a short thrust of your forearm poke a hole in the hide. With far less effort (energy) than throwing rocks you will be able to puncture the hide.

The point here isn’t to infer that bullets are not effective hunting implements. The point is that bullets and arrows work differently, and the energy required for arrow penetration is for less than that of bullets.

Kinetic energy is mass multiplied by velocity squared divided by two. The kinetic energy of a common caliber (30.06 with a normal load and 9g bullet and a muzzle velocity of 800meters per second) is 2880 joules.

An arrow (35g) shot from a 70 lb hunting bow at 90 m/s comes in at 141 joules. By this calculation the bullet has 20.4 times the energy as the arrow. This however means very little in the realm of penetration, since the arrow cuts cleanly through tissue that the bullet must rip and tear.

Since mass is more important to penetration than velocity a far better way to measure and compare the penetration power of bullets to arrows is momentum. Momentum is simply mass multiplied by velocity.

If we do the calculation with the same bullet and arrow we come up with the sum of 7.2 Newton for the bullet and 3.15 Newton for the arrow. This is a factor of only 2.28 times.

Arrows with their far more direct impulse will have often times more penetration than a bullet. Considering the maximum effective range of most archers is around thirty meters, the energy for good penetration is readily available for a bowhunter within that range.

What this means to the bowhunter is simply that a normal modern hunting bow has enough penetrating power to shoot through most common big game animals within normal range. And as long as this range is strictly observed arrows are as effective as rifles within their respective range (up to 300 meters).

Comparisons have been made between the time of immobilization between arrow shot and rifle shot African big game (1).

The time difference between the rifle and bow shot animals was mere seconds. The principle difference being the distance covered after the shot.

Almost all animals covered some distance after being shot with an arrow, whereas a portion of the rifle shot animals fell where they stood.

It must however, be understood that a rifle shot animal that falls where it stood often takes the same amount of time to expire as one that flees, it is simply unable to flee due to massive skeletal and neural disruption.

A paradox to this situation is the fact that many game animals shot with arrows do not actually run away at all. A well placed arrow shot at an animal that is completely unaware of the lurking bowhunter often passes through the chest cavity seemingly without the animal fleeing.

In this case these animals do not sprint away, rather they continue walking or feeding until they simply fall over, unaware of impending death or even the danger they were in.

Those who consider bowhunting unethical due the fact that animals doe not die “in the fire” should definitely consider this. The key to short blood trails is taking good shots, a truism no matter what weapon you choose.

Range, Shot Placement, and Self Control

The effective bow range of most hunters is within thirty meters.

Of course, this varies by hunter.

I consider effective range whatever distance an archer can put 9 out of 10 arrows inside a 10 centimeter diameter circle. Some hunters have to limit themselves to shots less than twenty meters, and I have met hunters who were effective at up to seventy meters.

In my own hunting experience most of my actual shots are less than twenty meters, with my average around fifteen. The closest shot I ever took was five meters, and the farthest forty.

Hunting so that game animals are so close you can even smell them is one of the main attractions and challenges of bowhunting.

Even when game animals are at such close range the deal isn’t yet done. A bowhunter must wait for the correct angle before shooting.

The most common shot position is having game standing broadside. This gives the archer a clear shot to the lung area. The most effective shot angle, however, is quartering slightly away.

An arrow shot from this angle almost always enters the heart lung area causing a quick death. A well placed arrow in either of these positions will generally pass completely through the animal leaving a copious blood trail to follow.

Most other shot angles generally speaking shouldn’t be taken with bow and arrow, or at least not without a great deal of experience.

It is also important that bowhunters take shots that enter just behind the shoulder on most large animals. The heavy shoulder bones of big heavy animals can sometimes stop arrows, so it is simply best to avoid them.

This is a little different than rifle hunting where the shoulder is the optimal target for massive skeletal disruption. I have often had large mature animals well within shot range only to let them pass without firing an arrow because a good shot angle never presented itself.

Being patient, knowing your limitations as an archer, and waiting for good shots, is a major part of bowhunting.

Effectiveness of Bow and Arrow as a hunting weapon

Hunting with bow and arrow is a common practice in much of the world (more about that in the next issue).

In many places hunters never stopped hunting with bows and arrows, and have been doing so for the last few millennium. That pre-history time span speaks for itself.

Though not as widespread in Europe as in North America bowhunting is allowed in numerous countries, some notable ones are France, Spain, Hungary and Denmark.

These countries all considered the effectiveness of archery equipment and determined it appropriate for hunting.

For example, in Denmark, during the process of considering legalizing modern bowhunting, a thorough study of the effectiveness of the bow and arrow as a hunting weapon was conducted over the course of five years.

The results confirmed killing effectiveness of the bow and arrow rivals other forms for firearm hunting, both stand hunting and driven hunts, while hunting roe deer.

The results of this study led to the legalization of bowhunting in Denmark (2). There have also been many other studies of the effectiveness of bowhunting in the United States and Africa (3)(4).

In the United States alone there are over three million licensed bowhunters, who harvest millions of game animals each year.

In some states the annual harvest by bowhunters of whitetails makes up between 25 and 35 percent of the total harvest (5).

And many suburban areas, urban areas, parks, and military bases bowhunting is the only form of hunting allowed. (This is something that could perhaps be a reasonable consideration for some urban European areas with wild boar problems.)

The numbers alone are a good testimony that bowhunting is certainly an effective form of hunting.

There isn’t a land animal on this planet that cannot be hunted and killed with a bow and arrow.

In fact, very animal on this planet has at some point been killed by bow and arrow, from rabbit to roe deer, from boar to buffalo, from grey fox to grizzly, and even the big five, all as recently as this year.

The key to successful harvesting of game animals is hunting well enough to get within bow range, and being patient and careful enough to make a good shot. For those of you who would like to consider taking up the path of the bow I will cover where and how to get started in the next issue.

Authors Note: The topics mentioned above are all highly complex, and this article is meant merely as an introduction to a few important topics related to bowhunting.

For further information on the physics of shooting, the energy involved, and the effects of both bullets and arrows this is a list of resources available on the internet:

European Bowhunting Association:

National Bowhunter Education Foundation:

CIC: (search+ bow hunting)


1. Ludbrook JV, and Tomkinson AJ, Game and Fish Preservation Board Natal South Africa, “Evaluation of Bow Hunting as a form of Recreational Hunting in Natal Parks” 1985

2. Evaluation of The Danish Bowhunters Association & The Danish National Forest and Nature Agency´s Statistics on Roedeer (Capreolus Capreolus)shot with bow and arrow in Denmark Between 1 October 1999 –15 January 2004

3.Mayer, Kenneth E. and Samuel, David E., California Department of Fish and Game, “A Review of Bow Wounding Literature” 1992.

4. Ashby, Ed Dr., “Momentum, Kinetic Energy, and Arrow Penetration” 2005; “Arrow Lethality Study Update” 2006.

5. Michigan Department of Natural Resources, “Deer Hunting Harvest Statistics” 2004: New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife, “Deer Hunting Harvest Statistics” 2004.

6. Derek Bruff of, Best Thermal Binoculars, 2018