Don't Bring a Bow & Arrow to a Gun Fight - Wilderness North

Celebrating 30 Years of Wilderness North  –          

Don’t Bring a Bow & Arrow to a Gun Fight

If you’re a bow hunter my title will certainly get your attention. But before you blast off a nasty-gram in my direction, first know that I have a lot of respect for a bow hunter’s ability to quickly and humanely dispatch a game animal with an accurately placed arrow. Also know that as a died-in-the-wool fly fisherman, I appreciate what it means to have a preferred method for putting dinner on the table. I just want to make sure that potential customers don’t put all their eggs into “the bow and arrow basket” when considering the trip of a lifetime for a trophy moose.

Case in point is a recent ibex hunt that I watched on Wild TV. In this episode a very accomplished bow hunter spent a full week climbing around on some serious mountain terrain hoping to harvest an ibex, a spectacular and rare type of mountain goat indigenous to the mountains of Iran. He finally got his chance at a trophy ibex just within bow range. But the wind was blowing hard and the arrow drifted off target and resulted in a miss. Not only that, but the ibex was so quick to move once it heard the twang of the bow string, it was actually able to move its body before the arrow arrived. Granted the ibex was at the limit of bow range at about 75 yards. That said, high wind or not, the ibex would be hanging on that hunter’s wall right now if he’d been armed with a good rifle. In this case the hunter understood the difficult odds he was up against in choosing to hunt an ibex with a bow. He was quite satisfied with his hunt knowing that he was able to get a shot at an ibex even though he missed. Or at least he said so on camera.

In comparison, I’ve watched several of Jim Shockey’s mountain hunts where he successfully harvested ibex and other rare species of mountain goat or sheep. Jim is an accomplished rifle and bow hunter. On those hunts, however, he chose the rifle and harvested some of these animals at nearly 300 yards.

At Wilderness North, we don’t sell ibex hunts high in the mountains; but we do offer trips of a lifetime for moose in the remote wilderness of Northern Ontario.  A Canadian bull moose can weigh in excess of a thousand pounds and carry a rack more than four feet across. Often hunters get one chance at a moose during a hunt, and when that chance comes sometimes they are 100-, 200- or 300-yards away. Way beyond bow range. Not to mention that when an animal as formidable as a rutting bull moose gets stuck with an arrow he can be very dangerous. I have heard many stories of moose goring hunters after being shot. Including one scenario near Thunder Bay, where a bull that was stuck with an arrow and presumed dead, seriously injured a hunter. Of course this can happen with a magnum rifle, but if I can help it I won’t be letting a moose get within stomping distance of me.

This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t hunt moose with a bow. Not at all. If bow hunting is your passion then by all means continue with your pursuit. I’m just pointing out the facts from a guide’s point of view. If you are both a rifle and a bow hunter then I’d opt for a rifle on a moose hunt. I hate to see people disappointed with their hunt. I’ve also seen folks come on moose hunts and miss a moose with a rifle. That’s disappointing too. These things happen even to the most proficient of hunters – both bow and rifle. But as a former SWAT officer I have a mentality that says, “Come prepared and get the job done.”

I’d never bring a bow and arrow to a gun fight.

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