For most of us, bowhunting is much more than harvesting an animal. Many of us started out as rifle hunters; and while we still anticipate and enjoy our rifle hunts, it is bowhunting that captures our greatest emotions. Why do we bowhunt? Why do we get so much out of our sport when the success rate is far below that of rifle hunting?
Why do we plan, prepare, and purchase for our bowhunts with such enthusiasm? For this hunter it is the whole experience that provides such anticipation prior to the hunt and the warmest emotions following it. Why bowhunting; because it provides us a chance to enjoy our friends and family away from civilization. The camp becomes the center of the hunt. It is our opportunity to create our own space in the wild and return to some ancestral existence. The camp is our home in the field. In this modern society filled with external electronic stimulation, our camp provides us the internal stimulation we require to stay human. We all look forward to the sharing of stories from the day’s hunt.
We are allowed into, and get to share in the powerful experience of our hunt partners. Those shared experiences become etched in our emotions and increase our anticipation for the next hunt. It is as much a part of the hunt as the actual hunting. I am still amazed how my heart leaps at the sight of the camp at the end of a long day’s hunt. No matter how crude, it still feels as inviting as any home I’ve owned. I know I’ll feel safety, warmth and fellowship; it is why we bowhunt. Bowhunting, more than any other outdoor experience, offers us the opportunity to become a part of the wild region that we temporarily inhabit. Be it a tree stand, blind or some naturally occurring vantage point, our goal is to become a part of the surroundings. We camouflage our bodies and mask our scent in order to become an indistinguishable part of the native flora and fauna. We test our ability to sit totally silent for long periods of time or stalk with stealth like silence.
And when the moment comes that we happen to find ourselves at full draw with our prey in our sights, it tests our ability to control our emotions in order to complete the shot. Bowhunting provides us the greatest natural “rush” possible. To be within yards of wild animals of all types makes our hearts leap. To be that close and have them not know we are there doubles the excitement. Even when we head back to our daily lives empty handed we are still filled with an abundance of emotionally charged experiences that continually nurture us. We are forced to live our lives in the civilized world to support our families and lifestyles but bowhunting provides us the opportunity to escape the “real” world and nourish our mental and emotional lives! Although the bow and arrow have become more technologically advanced, it is still an archaic method of hunting; flinging a projectile whose speed and accuracy are reliant upon the strength and steadiness of the archer.
By its very nature, bowhunting allows the hunter the opportunity to step back in time and forces him to rely on his hunter/gatherer nature. As a bowhunter I feel a little more vulnerable than I do when I rifle hunt. I am far more dependent upon my skills for my success and safety. That vulnerability is what makes the bowhunter appreciate the vastness and power of the natural world. The bowhunter, in the field, gets a sense of how small, yet connected, he is to his surroundings. In much the same way a surfer feels about the ocean waves, or a mountain climber about his ascent, the bowhunter respects his surroundings, and cannot wait until the next time he’s allowed the opportunity to revive his spirit and refresh his soul; this is why we bowhunt.