Bambi must die! (courtesy bowhuntingmag.com)

Taking a break from defending the thin blue line, policeone.com offers 4 reasons to bow hunt vs. using a hunting rifle. They are: 1. In many regions, bow season is longer and more plentiful; 2. A bow strengthens different skills; 3. Nothing’s more quiet than a bow and 4. Even the playing field. Wait. What? “If you are talking about legally hunting an animal, a bow and arrow would be preferable to a gun if you believe in giving the animal a fair chance at survival.” And less of a chance of an ethical kill? Anyway, while it’s not an either or thing, I reckon TTAG’s Armed Intelligentsia can’t let this broadhead – I mean broadside go unanswered. What are four reasons to hunt with a gun rather than a bow?

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72 Responses to Question of the Day: Four Reasons to Hunt With A Gun Rather Than a Bow?

  1. It doesn’t matter what you hunt with as long as you’re safe, responsible, ethical and legal. There, a list of 4 things.

    • 4 Reasons Cops should carry a bow instead of a Glock.

      1. They would have to hone their “shooting” skills.
      2. No Mag dumps
      3. Minimize contagious fire
      4. Less likely to confuse with tazer.

  2. What are four reasons to hunt with a gun rather than a bow?

    I don’t have four, at least not without some thought.

    I do have one…. Hunting with a Bow is Sport, a great challenge to your self and your skills. Hunting with a Riffle is Meat on the Table (and freezer, and deep freeze).

    • Exactly. I don’t have 2 months worth of vacation time. I have a week off work, and a freezer to fill.

      • Same here. Except I’ve got to pack up my gear and travel about 2,000 miles to my family hunting land.

        • While I don’t have 2000 miles to go, I still have a 4 hour drive to northern Wisconsin. I couldn’t imagine a cross country trip being any easier to do. I can see why you would prioritize meat in the freezer over a sporting chance.

  3. Cost is a good reason, I dont know anything about bows but a single shot shotgun and a box of slugs can be had for less than $150. Also, you dont have to go find the slug if you miss. There is no way that a broadhead and arrow costs less than a single slug.

    • I was interested in getting into bows. I went to Dick’s to check them out and God almighty most of their compounds were well over 500 bucks. Instead of taking a risk on something I don’t know for certain I’ll be good at or like id rather put that money towards a new gun or ammo. Or a TV. Either way

    • You can get a Sammick Sage Takedown recurve with #55 limbs for $140. An extra set of lighter limbs is $75, case $50, 3 pack of carbon arrows $30, friction target like $60. Never hunted with it, but plain archery is fun. Plus you can run around in the field with a leather quiver on your back and pretend you are Katniss! … Uh, I mean Rambo, yeah, Rambo.

      • “Plus you can run around in the field with a leather quiver on your back and pretend you are Katniss!”

        Frolic in the field with a leather quiver on your back and pretend you are Katniss…

        yikes.

    • I have a Rossi single shot 12 gauge i bought for $105
      (104 & change) and
      then $12.87 for a 15 round box of winchester 2-3/4″ 1.oz slugs.

      I should be set for deer and bird’s with shot shell’s.

  4. It is not a matter of an ethical kill, but one of hunting skill. You must get closer to use a bow and that is what is ment by #4. My first reason to use a gun, getting to hunt with family who don’t bow hunt.

  5. Use a gun, specifically a MSR to:
    1)Because sporting purposes (sarc)
    2)Get familiar with your gear
    3)Using a can, it’s not that loud
    4)More ethical since you are less likely to wound and not recover

  6. 1. Ethical kills are practically impossible with a bow, the animals seem to always suffer and you have to track them down after they bleed out.
    2. Bow hunting builds different skills and the skills you build in rifle hunting are the ones you need in the ACTUAL world.
    3. We know why you want us to hunt with bows, tyrant. Free people should be allowed to hunt with tactical rifles, rights not used are very easily lost.
    4. If quiet hunting is supposed to be a good thing, why do we need a tax stamp to buy a suppressor?
    5. BFYTW

    • got to love private property hunting. i can use rifle i choose, any caliber. right from the porch we can get deer n bear without even putting out corn. we built house in a path north end of a lake between 2 ridges. it was a deer path area where a preacher had his hunting cabin.

    • I hunted with bows exclusively for a couple of decades. A double lung hit with a sharp broadhead puts a deer down within 30 yds every time and is as ethical as any other weapon. I also hunt with rifles now and even with today’s super fast archery equipment there is absolutely no comparison between the skill needed to harvest deer with a bow vs. a rifle.

  7. Heck, I’m not even a hunter, really, but I can see some:
    1. Broader pool of hunters: Some folks can’t physically handle a hunting-strength bow as well as they can a hunting-caliber firearm.
    2. Broader range of game: I’m not gonna try hunting quail with a bow.
    3. RF already got this one Better likelihood of a quick, clean kill.
    4. Broader opportunities for a harvest: Firearms have longer range.

  8. 1. It’s a lot easier with a rifle.
    2. It’s a little easier with a pistol.
    3. Almost impossible to hunt ethically with a bow in heavy thickets.
    4. Really really really hard to shoot ducks dove and quail with a bow.

    I’m an avid bow hunter. And gun hunter.

  9. I hunt with both. And I hunt the same way with both, so:

    1. Better range with even shotgun slugs.
    2. Harder hits resulting in less tracking. I track blood trails way more using a bow.
    3. Much quicker second shots. As a rule, if the animal is still on it’s feet and in range (see #1) I will shoot it again.
    4. Skills transference from and to self-defense with a rifle/shotgun. Only legal way take on a living “opponent.” Most days, they win. It is all a game of detect and don’t get detected.

    That said, get out of the tree stand and hunt from the ground. Learn from your quarry. They will teach you. Doing it with a bow forces your hunting skill to get better and most places extends your season a lot. Add the rifle/shotgun back in and your odds go up.

  10. Honest to god, if its deer, I prefer to use my bow, the time and dedication it takes to be accurate and proficient make a successful hunt all that more enjoyable, and I mean c’mon deer are not dangerous game….i’m not worried about a buck climbing up a tree to kill me lol. With hogs…now hats a different story I’m on the ground and I really appreciate 30 rounds when when one decides to charge ;). That being said I prefer to shoot my rifles in enjoyment over my compond, idk it’s just personal preference like anything else, and for some reason I tend to see more game up close, cause you have too. I just “like” to hunt with my bow, but hey if you like to hunt with a rifle , hell yeah I say…just dont use trackingpoint…thats another ethical question

  11. 1: I suck with a bow and, thus
    2: it wouldn’t be ethical for me to use one because there would be such a large chance of leaving a suffering, wounded animal.
    3: Found a dead deer in my woods last fall with an arrow sticking out of it. The shot was horribly placed in the lower abdomen and I could tell that it had taken that deer a good, long time to die.
    4: So far, I just haven’t been willing to invest in the expense and the time necessary to be confident.

  12. RF, I think you may have overreacted on this one.
    Bowhunting is a completely different sport than with a firearm. Whereas a firearm makes it easier to get your quarry, a bow yields higher satisfaction. If a firearm has a higher chance of getting an ethical kill, then it also has a higher chance of getting an unethical kill due to the fact that its further lethal range can tempt hunters into taking a shot that is outside of their own effective range. Where on the other hand, a bow requires more skill to get your tag, it requires and creates more discipline in the hunter to only take the shot they are able to make.
    Also, the quiet factor does come into play. Even if its legal to hunt with a suppressor, making a kill shot usualy requires full power loads. Meaning a louder report. Meaning your prey will get an adrenaline dump and take off. Short of a hit to the central nervous system, I have never seen nor heard of a game animal not taking off. With a bow on the other hand, I’ve seen a deer take an arrow in the side, flinch, bend down to keep grazing, and die.

    • Never seen nor heard of a game animal just dropping on the spot where it was shot? That’s not an unusual occurance…

    • You must not know a lot of rifle hunters then… I drop, on the spot, at least one deer a season. It’s not difficult or uncommon.

      Whitetail deer have spines high on the shoulder, easily hit from < 100 yards.

  13. I think, especially within city limits, the answer should be “none of the above”. Hunters who wish to even the playing field should be able to hunt anything with a knife, no license, no limit, no season. When you’ve pulled into a friend’s driveway and had to wait for several minutes for the 40-50 deer to amble off so that you can park and go in the house, you’ll get the idea. Just step out of the car with something by Cold Steel and harvest you one or two. Male, female, who cares?

      • What if you make the blades out of lead, make them very small, and throw them out of a tube using small amounts of quick burning chemicals contained in a sheath of brass?

  14. Firearm “ammunition” is a LOT less expensive than archery “ammunition”. A single rifle cartridge costs about $1. A single broadhead for an arrow costs about $10. And you only get to use the broadhead once. Furthermore, arrows are expensive, costing around $5 to $10 each … although you can typically reuse arrows a lot.

    For that reason alone, it is typically less expensive to use a firearm.

    • I recover my arrows and broadheads. They are all serial killers.

      It is not true that broadheads cannot be reused. A $6 sharpening stick or some replacement blades is usually all you need.

      In semi-urban areas, it’s shotgun only, and slugs get pretty expensive.

      • Yeah, that is a good point that you can buy replacement blades for most broadheads. As for resharpening, most of my blades have been trashed because all of my shots have been passthroughs and the blade plows through sticks, roots, rocks, and soil before coming to rest. All of that nasty stuff puts ripples on the blades that cannot be “sharpened”.

        I use a .44 Magnum long gun for deer hunting and those cartridges are about 70 cents each — way cheaper than broadheads no matter how many times you try to resharpen them.

    • Each firearm projectile might be cheaper, but practice arrows are reusable in their entirety for a very long time. It’s much less expensive to practice with a bow, and there are fewer limitations of where you can practice with a bow, especially in urban and suburban areas.

  15. Although I am not a hunter, I started shooting Olympic Recurve archery last year.

    Absolutely, the different skill set of archery has been complementary with shooting a pistol, and made me better with a firearm.

    All the best, James

  16. I do most of my hunting these days with a bow (longer season), but I still support choice.

    For people who say a gun is more likely to produce an “ethical” shot, I have seen deer shot within 10 yards with a gun fail to go down, and leave a trail all over the place, with enough blood that one might otherwise would result in a kill. I have seen deer recovered with a slug in the leg (that was embedded for at least weeks). Guns are not a substitute for bad shot placement or underpowered slugs.

    For people who say “I’m not good enough for a bow”… crossbow!

    Deer are enormously overpopulated. What we need is more options to kill them. How you do it, that is your business.

    • Elizabeth’s skill was not to hunt with a bow, but to hunt for a beau… if I read her bio attentively. “If at first you don’t succeed….”

    • Its funny because she built her entire career on being part native American and turns out she’s not. At all. In fact, her great great grandfather was a member of the militia that sent the Cherokee off on the trail of tears.

  17. Hunt with both. Both are fun and rewarding in their own ways.

    Perhaps even consider hunting with both at the same time. Getsome.

  18. 1. I don’t have a bow.
    2. I don’t want a bow.
    3. I don’t want to learn to shoot a bow.
    4. There’s more than enough gun season for the amount of hunting I do.

  19. The major disadvantage of archery is the process of “tuning” your bow. You have to locate your arrow rest and knocking point (where your arrow engages the string) in precisely the right location for proper and hence accurate arrow flight. Once you complete that process, you still have to adjust your sights and practice, practice, practice.

    I would argue that it takes a lot more practice to be accurate with archery equipment than a firearm.

    Perhaps not as obvious, the above comments apply only to compound and recurve bows. Crossbows do not require tuning or near as much practice as compound and recurve bows. I dare say that gaining proficiency with a crossbow is as easy as gaining proficiency with a firearm. The only major difference is range and susceptibility to wind. With many crossbows, you are limited to about 40 yards range. And you want crosswinds to be below 10 mph or so. Obviously many firearms enable you to easily put bullets on target at 100 yards even with a 30 mph crosswind.

  20. 1. Quicker transition to self defense if threatened by man or beast.
    2. Equally viable for both handicapped and able bodied.
    3. More humane even in less skilled hands.
    4. A rifle or shotgun makes it easier for the poor to put food on the table.
    5. An unintentional discharge requires pulling the trigger rather than simply letting go of the arrow.
    6. Arrow are expensive and performance can vary wildly depending on design.

  21. I hunt with a rifle because of their power. I have seen two elk with arrows sticking out of them and this was weeks after the bow season here in Colorado. Those animals were suffering and would not live through the winter for sure. Two many people seem to think they can just go out in the woods and stick an arrow into an animal and it will die just like they did when shot with their old .30-06. Big difference in range/killing power/ and in my opinion ethical quick kills. Just say no to bows!

  22. 1. yardage, tough too hit at the Range of 100 yards
    2. heat, hard to have heat in a non enclosed stand
    3. Deer Camp! few party hunters
    4 Bugs, very few in firearms season
    5. expense! less investment
    6. less practice
    7.better Gambling, better chances of a harvest
    8 save Time not retrieving ammo
    9. save soap and water dont have too wash camo off
    10. do not have to report to club for arm strength training

  23. I don’t hunt, but here are my four, tongue in cheek:

    1. Hunting with a bow, you are more likely to get shot by some old bow-hunting geezer losing his eyesight. Think Ted Nugent.

    2. You can spend a lot of time getting good with a bow and get to go hunting, or you can spend the same amount of time getting good with a rifle and be able to go hunting AND be able to defend yourself when the SHTF. There is a reason that people throughout history who fought with bows against people with guns mostly got themselves killed.

    3. When you’re stocking up on jerky for the hunt you can’t scare the s–t out of liberals in Kroger nearly as well open-carrying a bow as you can open-carrying a rifle.

    4. After the hunt, shooting watermelons and unopened soft drink cans is way cooler with a rifle than shooting them with a bow.

  24. I think the difference in the choice of comes down to the motivation killing the animal. Trophy vs meat.

    Chance to get away? I don’t care if the deer had a chance to get away anymore than I care if the cow, chicken, or pig had chance to escape from the farm.

    It’s about putting quality meat on the table as cheaply and easily as possible. It’s not my hobby or sport, it’s just one of the ways I choose to procure food.

    • Agree 100%. If I want to enjoy the woods I can go hiking without schlepping a rifle and gear with me and dragging 100+ lbs of dead animal along.

  25. I would rephrase the question to “Hunting with a Gun AND a Bow”, instead of “Gun rather than Bow”. I could then answer:
    1. AN ADDITIONAL HUNTING SEASON
    2. Gun hunts are later in season and thus colder. I like cold weather hunting.
    3. Hunting with a gun/bow make you a better hunter with a bow/gun.
    4. Pronghorn Antelope are hard to hunt with a bow.

  26. “It doesn’t matter what you hunt with as long as you’re safe, responsible, ethical and legal. There, a list of 4 things.”
    — some_guy

    Agreed, very much so.

    I saw crossbows being mentioned a few times; firearm skill sets do translate well over to crossbows, and they are a lot of fun. Good ones are quite pricey, though.
    I have a nice Parker and it’s got the accuracy/power to take a deer…. but I won’t ever use it to do so, unless I’ve completely run out of rifle ammo.

  27. Thanks Nate, most of my bow kills drop in sight and some hardly run at all acting like they don’t know what happened .

    But I use cut on contacts. Around me guys bow hunt to get the mature bucks before the orange army sends them into heavy cover, Or the next county.

    I passed up over 50 deer last bow season before killing one , I think it’s easier than gun , depending on what kind of deer you want to shoot and how well you know your land .

    If I don’t have deer pass my stand two hunts in a row I start to wonder what went wrong .

  28. only 2 reasons i would see using a gun over a bow: distance, stopping power. otherwise the bow is a damn fine hunting tool.

  29. I am not very well informed on this topic but I suspect that a kill with a bullet is more humane in most cases. Also probably takes much less tramping through the woods after a shot. If an animal is wounded and not killed outright then the tracking could take a long time. Many hunters would probably give up and the animal would be left to suffer or bleed out before it expired. The result would be wasted effort, wasted meat and an animal that is suffering a long time before it dies. What does a bow hunter do when he tracks down his prey and finds it has not died yet? At that point, I would wish I had a handgun with me to finish it off.

  30. I was, at one point in my life, pretty decent with a recurve bow. I have since let those skills decline, and my compound bow has been languishing in a soft case for years. I got excited by crossbows, and bought a Barnett Ghost 410. It’s so powerful that it requires special bolts (it seems the best are the Headhunter 22″ bolts). The scope that it came with is crap, so I need to upgrade to a Leupold crossbow scope one of these days.

    While I look forward to crossbow hunting, a 5.56, 6.8, 7.62, .338, .452, or .458 cal bullet at 2000-3200 FPS is far more accurate and destructive than an arrow.

  31. I am a convert to bow hunting, but love guns just as much as the day fell in love with them.
    1. Comrodery (hunting buddies) bowhunting is a one man game to be successful.
    2.time involved ( everyone doesn’t have extra time to do things the hard way)
    3. Increase your odds ( usually you know how things will end after you pull the trigger)
    4. Because it’s what makes you happy!

  32. I archery hunt because:

    1.The season is not only longer, it’s earlier in the year with longer days and warmer temps.
    2.There are more places to hunt, safety zones are smaller and property owners are more willing to allow archery which comes with much less liability to the land owner (See the Casey Burns case in PA).
    3. Deer are still in rut and moving around a lot more.
    4. It’s more of a change to use all my tags, by the first day of rifle season all the deer are gone.

  33. LEVEL PLAYING FIELD!?!?

    Then hunt naked with no weapons.

    A bow shootingnarrows with razor sharp broadheads is NOT a level playing field.

    and who wants a level playing field anyway? it’s hunting, not a fighting match.

    • I knew a guy who stopped short of hunting naked, but got a buck with a knife to prove it could be done.

    • I always tell people that in nature it’s never an even match up. The lion doesn’t have a gun, and he is way tougher than the gazelle. Sometimes they get away, but still.

      Similarly, humans aren’t that strong or tough really, but our brains are what set us apart and they gave us guns and tracking ability. Still,the gazelle(or deer) gets away sometimes.

  34. I usually have a very high success and kill ratio with deer using a car.
    The car has lots of energy.
    The car is quieter than a gun.
    The car is more comfortable than a tree stand.
    I do not need a deer permit with the car.

  35. 1. I don’t use a bow to give my target an advantage; I use a bow to give myself a disadvantage.
    2. I don’t need to drive any distance or pay range fees to practice with my bows, I can do it in my backyard.
    3. Because of Number 2, I get more practice in. Sometimes several times a week. All year long.
    4. (good)Arrows ain’t cheap: Mine cost me $11 a shaft and that doesn’t include the head. As such: I am VERY careful when placing a shot. A missed, or worse – wounded, animal would make me sick morally as well as somewhat financially.
    An ethical hunter must practice regularly with their chosen weapon, whether it goes “bang” or “twang”.

  36. Deer hunting:
    1. Hunting with your carry sidearm (9mm, 45acp) encourages precision shooting practice and places emphasis on the importance of accurate shooting under pressure.
    2. Hunting with buckshot ( pellet size .30″ to .60″) encourages pattern testing with your smoothbore arms to establish the limits of the killing pattern.
    Note: Greater effective range than most archery gear.
    3. Hunting with smoothbore shotgun slugs, encourages precision shooting practice even with a bead sighted defensive shotgun.
    4. Hunting with a rifle encourages development of moving target skills which are neglected by most rifle shooters.

  37. I think it’s a very personal choice, and there are obviously many bow hunters who can put down an animal quickly and ethically, just like there are more than enough rifle shooters who can’t place a shot to save their lives and then complain about 300winmag not being enough to stop a white tail.

    My dad was into bow hunting, and therefore I shot bows a lot as a kid. His one and only bow hunt did not end with a humane kill. They had to track it for hours. But it turns out the severe migraines he had been having the past few weeks that might have affected his accuracy before and during the hunt were terminal brain cancer so he got a pass. Trophy is mounted on my wall 🙂

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