Bow hunting is a beautiful, natural, and organic way to harvest a freezer full of clean meat. I have found a simple joy in the stalk of big game with a bow and arrow. It took time, patience, and practice to become proficient in my archery art. But, even with my new-found excitement, I have discovered ways to expand the satisfaction of my pursuit. I found related activities that enhanced my year-round bow connection.
I started writing. I had been a rifle hunter for years, and still enjoy a day’s still-hunt with my trusty 30.06, but when I stepped into the forest with nothing more than my bow, quiver, and arrows, the desire to tell my story was born. This led to a Facebook page devoted to my outdoor adventures and eventually the Whitetail Poet Blog. I have incorporated other interests into my bow hunting, such as photography and canoeing, that saturate my archery passion with amazing returns as well. Starting with the idea of penning your adventures, here’s a list of ideas that you may want to include into your hunting plans.
- Writing: Whether you write to post, publish, or journal, writing captures the moment for a lifetime. Writing the experience seal’s the image in your memory. How many great hunting recollection’s have you lost to the passing of time? Writing will help you retain those pictures and others may appreciate them as well. Oh, and don’t worry about mechanics and grammar if you are simply keeping a journal you’ll get better with time, and there are many on-line tutoring services to help you get going. If you want to post or publish, consider taking some night classes and again, just start writing. Writing is a craft you can learn.
- Reading: This may sound simplistic, but there is a real link between experience and the written word. Good story-telling, or informational writing, pulls at your own memories and helps you make a real connection to our personal story. There is something very old-school about kicking back in your favorite recliner with a good outdoor magazine, book, and a steamy cup of coffee, to help pass those wishful winter days.
- Photography: Photography can become a partner to your writing or a stand-alone outdoor hobby. Today’s cell phones take remarkably good photo’s and it’s easy to snap a few pic’s throughout a hunt to capture the outing. Create a photo catalog with simple sub-titles, your grandchildren will cherish it one day. Or, if you want to be more public, Instagram and other platforms offer easy ways to share your work with the world.
- Videography: This takes more work and technical skill, at least on the hobby level, than visualizing what makes a good photo opportunity. But, there is a whole world waiting to support your film aspirations and many quality YouTube artists to draw inspiration from. It is also very easy to set up a YouTube account as a means to display your film if you desire.
- Canoeing: If you live in an area that provides waterways into public lands canoeing is a fun way to add adventure, and open remote areas, to your bow hunting exploits. On those warm autumn days you might get a line wet in between a morning and evening bow sit, and taking to the water is a great way to get your preseason scouting in as well. Just always be mindful of the added safety risks when incorporating boating into your hunts.
- Biking: Bicycling is another form of transportation that can get you further and deeper into the deer woods. Especially if you do not have many lakes and rivers to navigate, a mountain bike can be a great tool to get you into a favorite spot.
- Backpacking: We all don’t have access to Rocky Mountain wilderness for a quick backpack hunt, but it can still be done. Begin to research your public lands that allow overnight camping and make a plan. There’s nothing like a night under the stars. Just remember to prepare for ticks and treat all your clothes with products like Permethrin which should be a standard practice any time you hit the woods in tick season.
- X-C Skiing: Most people equate X-C Skiing to the nice groomed trails pictured in resort brochures, but it is an excellent way to go off- trailing and get away from the crowds. Ski’s, or snowshoes, offer the late season hunter a way to navigate in snow-country and are an extremely enjoyable way to get off-season exercise and learn new hunting areas.
- Bow-Making: Self-made bows can be a rewarding, simple, and creative way, to return to the roots of archery. If you enjoy Traditional Archery this might be the next step for you. Check out YouTube channels such as Clay Hayes for informative video’s on the world of self-made bows.
- Conservation: This is an area we all contribute too with the purchase of hunting and fishing licenses. But bringing conservation awareness to your personal lifestyle is a worthy and needed cause. You can start with reading classic writer’s such as John Muir and research the beginnings of the US Park System which was initiated with the vision of President Roosevelt. Your local preserves and parks most likely have volunteer opportunities. On a national scale, groups like Backcountry Hunters and Anglers are an organized, and thoughtful, affiliation that provides information and involvement through publications, regional and local gatherings, legislative work, and membership to support public lands.
- Wood-lore: Learning about your surroundings is just fun. What type of tree are you perched in for a hunt? Are those Fox, Fisher, or Raccoon tracks on the trail? What type of song-bird is keeping you company under the fall canopy? This study can also include survival tactics such as shelter building, wild food gathering, trapping, and fire-building.
- Deer Camp: There’s nothing like spending time with family and friends in a cabin, or camper, for a deer hunt. Gather some friends, do a little research, pool your resources, and see if you can turn a hunting commute in a hunting camp.
The term think outside the box is a popular phrase in today’s culture. We often get stuck in a hunting rut because that’s the way our Uncle’s or Dad did things. But for me, thinking outside the box with challenges like solo still-hunts with my rifle, versus deer drives or sitting in a stand blind all day, is what led me into bow hunting. Now, I take everything I learned as a youngster and apply it to a whole new world of archery adventure.
This list is not a comprehensive collection of all the activities a person can do in the outdoors or bow hunting. Nor does it provide a detailed, step-by-step, description with web-links or book references to satisfy questions you might have. Discovery is part of the fun, and there is a treasure of information out there for you to delve into. That’s where your journey begins. With just one or two of the suggestions I have listed, you can enhance your bow hunting experience and take it to new levels of enjoyment and satisfaction.