Saturday, June 20, 2009

I Like Close Bow Shots

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There is little doubt about my love for bow hunting. It is a driving force that carries me through the months of January through September.

And one thing stands out when it comes to bow hunting. I don’t care whether I’m hunting bear, caribou, deer or whatever the other wild game may be, I want a close shot. I have nothing against those people who delight in taking 50-yard shots with a bow.

It’s not something I can do. My weak and oft-operated eyes provide only a limited distance of decent vision. Note that I didn’t write good vision. The “decent vision” part means 15 yards or closee. Good vision, in my case, means 10 yards or even closer than that.

There’s the mechanics of my vision problems, and that is what is acceptable for me. I could probably hit a deer and kill it at 20 yards, but the operative word for all of this is “close.” Most of my deer are shot at six to 10 yards. A few in recent years have been taken out to 15 yards, and the King of the swamp could stand at 22 yards, quartering-away, and I wouldn’t shoot. It’s just too far for me.

There is another thing about hunting and taking close shots that turns me on. It’s the very close proximity to wild game that trips my trigger. The closer the game, the more of an adrenalin rush comes over me and the more challenge there is to not be spotted as my bow is drawn and it’s important to play the wind to avoid being winded. Getting close to game, and succeeding with a killing shot is the epitome of what the hunt means to me.

This goes far beyond just the killing stage. It requires a great deal of skill and will power to remain motionless and silent. This means picking your hunting spot wisely, putting up a stand in the right location, not hunting it too often and being able to control your nerves and still make a good shot.

Back about 1971 when I first began bear hunting it was illegal to hunt from a tree. My stand was always on the ground, and usually within six to 10 yards of the bait. My first bow-killed bruin was taken at a distance of six feet. Many of my other bow kills were made at distances of 10 yards or less. If you think deer are jumpy, try hunting a bear that has been hunted before.

I’ve sat on the ground with bow in hand, and had bears come in, circle the area and sit down behind me at five or six yards. A hunter facing the bear’s normal travel route, can’t turn, draw, aim and shoot at a bear behind him. One animal I knew was there sat behind me for 10 minutes, and it never did go to the bait. It would have weighed about 400 pounds.

There have been a number of whitetail bucks I’ve taken over the years that were shot at distances of 10 feet. Admittedly, that is a bit extreme but the animals got within 10 yards quickly, wouldn’t turn, and moved much closer before turning slightly to avoid my ground blind. I simply hold my draw, and wait for the animal to turn and offer a high-percentage shot. If it’s not broadside or quartering-away, no shot is taken.

Is the “close” technique for you? Probably not, but most of my hunting is done at close range out of necessity. It’s important for me to allow the animal to get close or I might not get a shot. The glaucoma that has plagued my eyes for 25 years makes taking close shots a necessity. I enjoy watching deer, and do it often, but once in a while every year I decide to shoot a doe if I can’t find a truly decent buck to hunt. I reached the end of shooting little bucks many years ago, and now prefer taking a nice animal with some mass, a minimum of eight decent points, and I look for 3 1/2-year-old bucks ... or older.

What works for me may fail miserably for you. Such extreme measures have been forced upon me by advancing years and loss of some vision. It’s not all fun and games, but it keeps me going and lets me get out in the woods. That, my friends, is what I want and need.

A buck or doe is secondary to just being there.

Posted by Dave Richey on 06/20 at 06:25 PM
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