Bow hunting presents unique challenges
For most hunters it’s a rush to be able to take down a trophy elk from a couple of hundred yards with a rifle and a powerful scope. But for others who appreciate a more natural form of hunting, archery offers a big challenge. The ability to sneak up on the target, get as close as 20 yards, and take down the same large beast with a silent projectile can be the ultimate challenge. “You have to use the elements of concealment and surprise,” said Ron Oliver, of Bear Archery and Gun Shop between Glenwood Springs and Carbondale. “It’s a more primitive method of hunting.”One of the reasons (archery season is) more appealing, it doesn’t look so much like a pumpkin patch out there,” Oliver said, referring to the mandatory fluorescent orange wore by rifle hunters.”Fewer hunters, and being able to wear camouflage and not the bright orange, lets you enjoy the prettier time of year, too.”
For archers camouflage is necessary for getting close to the game.Rifle hunting, however, is more popular because a rifle is more “user friendly” than a bow. Rifle hunting is split into four seasons beginning in mid-October and ending in mid-November. Each season lasts about a week. The lone archery season lasts from Aug. 26 to Sept. 24. Becoming proficient with a bow and arrow takes a lot more dedication, time and practice than using a rifle. There is also the added physical challenge and use of upper body strength. “The younger kids are usually pretty strong already, but for some of my beginner students I start them on an exercise regimen to strengthen their upper body.” “Archery is more challenging, but it takes a lot of time,” said Bryan Rider, of Timberline Sporting Goods in Rifle.Even with the greater difficulty, some hunters are attracted to the sport of bow hunting right away. “It’s about 50-50,” Rider said. “It’s more common for archers to be rifle hunters as well, but some get right into archery not realizing how difficult it is,” Oliver said.
Bow hunting is all about practice.”After a few months of the regimen, they are hitting consistently a three-inch circle from 20 yards.” Difficulty is the challenging call to most who really enjoy the experience of the hunt. And that means getting close. “We encourage bow hunters to get within 20 yards before taking a shot,” Oliver said. A longer range shot from a bow will be less effective and may just injure the animal.” To get close, archery hunters use extensive camouflage to remain unseen by their target. Cow calls and elk bugles replicate the sound that the animals make to attract the opposite sex.
“It’s quite an experience to be out in the wild with those big animals and have them react to your calls,” Oliver said.A successful archery hunt also means keeping an eye on the scents.Cover-scents are also used to cover the natural aroma of the hunter. There are also attracting scents that replicate the scents produced by a cow to let the bull know that she is in season. “I don’t recommend using an attracting scent on your body,” Oliver said. “You may get an unpleasant visit from a bull (elk).” Oliver suggested that the attracting scent be sprayed on a bush or tree instead. Then the hunter can set up and wait for a target to come into view. “Most bow-hunters start practicing around two to three months before season two or three nights a week,” Oliver said. “But now, with only a month to go, you’ll see guys shooting every night.” For hunters just getting into the sport it could cost up to $1,500 for a good bow. Beginners can find a good long bow for between $200 and $800. Quality compound bow prices will start at around $300. A good six-pack of arrows will cost between $20 and $40.
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