Hunting with a bow: A review of a great survival tool

Never kill lightly, life is important regardless the size of the animal or type of plant. Expressing thanks for the use of the life of other living things to maintain our life is an essential part of living with our environment and not in conflict with it. All life is apart of the same circle, respecting this is essential to coexisting peacefully.

These days I rarely hunt, I have no need to at this time. However, I always practice the skills I once honed and used successfully to take rabbits, javelina and much more. The ability to take game when needed is an essential part of living in nature and surviving potential problems. These problems could be as small as simply losing a job or having unexpected bills pop up preventing the ease of purchasing or trading for meat from the locals who grow it. One of the tools my daughter and I practice with regularly is the bow and arrow.

We use common non mechanical bows. They fall under long bow, recurve, horse bows and more. My daughter has a 25-35 lb bow (depending on draw length) that would easily work for small game. I use a 50-65 lb bow (depending on draw length) that will take the smallest up through the largest game available to us in this area. My primary bow is a take-down bow and is easily transportable with a dozen arrows. I also have a special horse bow, this is not a bow that can be taken down into smaller parts and is quite strong. The largest reason neither of us use (with regularity) a compound bow is due to the need for numerous mechanical parts and additions. Archery hunting is reliant on a good stand/ cover or stalking and tracking ability.

For arrows my daughter and I primarily use aluminum arrows from Easton with plastic fletches. She uses field points, (otherwise known as target points) that work very well for small game. I use a mixture of 100 grain field points and 150 grain two bladed broad-heads that are a single piece. I avoid the numerous specialty tips as they are generally quite expensive and extremely mechanical which adds to the potential for failures in the field. Additionally I have and use wooden arrows with turkey feather fletching. It is hard to say which I prefer, though the wooden arrows are made specifically for the horse bow and I do enjoy that bow particularly. It is essential to ensure that the arrows you use are built for the bow strength and your length of pull. Unless you are like myself and my daughter in which case use arrows an inch or two longer than your length of pull simply so that you can add that extra bit of pull to add power to the shot depending on game.

Generally speaking you will extend your non dominate hand directly in front of you while standing in a relaxed horse stance with a straight line from the target to your eyes able to be drawn across the tips of your toes. (standing sideways to the target) place your dominate hands finger tips against your chin slightly forward of the cheekbone and measure this distance. This is your length of draw, the arrows you use are than cut to include maybe an inch on top of that normally. Myself I shoot a 29” draw but use arrows that are 30-33” in length. It does not affect the ability of myself to take game. Though this can be argued in length by many, specifically if they utilize compound bows and specialized arrow rests and far more additional mechanical additions than I am willing to get involved in.

What matters is can you hit what you are aiming at and be ready to hit it a second time directly if necessary. I have taken many a rabbit on the run, and Arizona rabbits are not generally very large and quite fast. This is what matters, can you take the game with the least amount of pain being inflicted on animal being taken. If you can with what you have, use what you have. I used to be quite the bow snob with regards to brand names. However, at this point in time as with firearms and pretty much everything else I have long realized that brand name is not everything. Reliability, quality and accuracy of tools being used are all that is essential.

There are several brands available for take down bows that you can purchase with arrows, broad heads a side or back quiver (this is also up too you) I prefer a quiver that can be both so I can switch as necessary and a practice target for well under $300 total. This alone makes the bow and arrow a very tempting replacement for a rifle as a survival tool, of course, it does mean you need to learn how to track, stalk and or place tree stands or ambush points well as your average killing distance with a bow and arrow will range from 30 to 100 feet. Can you hit further, absolutely, can you do so and kill the game you are aiming to take, absolutely. However, because of what it is the bow and arrow is best when used between 30 and 100 feet. The furthest I have hit accurately is 110 yards. I would not try for a shot at this distance if I absolutely needed the meat. I would rather take the additional time to get closer to the target and ensure a quick kill.

Remember, you can also use the bow and arrow to kill quietly. This is essential when involved in situations where being seen may be a negative for yourself. The following is a brief list of items I consider essential for archery hunting and a survival kit, linked are places where you can pick each up if necessary.

  1. A solid bow is the Sammick Sage Takedown bow – it comes in many sizes and strengths.
  2. Additional string for the bow, I use Dacron 50 – make sure of your length before purchasing.
  3. Soft case for the bow when taken down, I love mine and use it to carry arrows when not in hunting mode as well.
  4. Quiver types are up too you, however, I have used and enjoy the OMP mountain man setup.
  5. I use Allen Company bow string wax, you can if necessary use bees wax as well.
  6. Research arrow type for the size bow you choose, this is essential unless you are planning on making your own. If you do this, let me know, I can do this I simply am not quite as good as I would like to be.
  7. Broad-heads are also up too you, I use broad-heads that many people consider extremely old fashioned.
  8. I use the Field Logic classic target because it STOPS the arrows regardless strength of bow.
  9. Lastly I use the Mountain Man Beaver balls to reduce the “twang” from the string.

All I can recommend at this stage is that you do some reading on how to use a bow in the plains Indian way. As they are widely accepted to be, on this continent at least, among the best with a bow and arrow in the past 100 years. Obviously, there are many ways and many additional tools and add ons you can get. However, it is my strict opinion that most if not all of the modern accouterments are unnecessary at best. In fact, the simpler you go the better off you are as you will have less of a potential for failure of mechanical devices causing the loss of game. Reduce parts and increase the overall reliability of the setup.

As with everything, this is simply my opinion. Can you build your own bow? Absolutely, however, why do this after the fact when you are cold, hungry and losing your cognitive abilities. Why not be prepared now, besides using a bow regularly is great exercise and strengthens the back muscles as well as helping in your hand eye coordination. You make the call, its your life not mine. For me and mine, I prefer being prepared regardless the situation. After all, not only is archery fun, with practice you can easily add to your freezer when needed as well. Just remember, use everything, never waste any part of the animal. All life is precious, remember to thank the animal or plant you harvest for the gift of life, I do.

Free the mind and the body will follow.


About Jesse Mathewson

Jesse Mathewson is the author of the popular blog, and provides commentary to many varied places based on a background that includes education in criminal justice, history, religion and even insurgency tactics and tactical training. His current role in his community is as an organizer of sorts and a preacher of community solidarity and agorism. He also runs Liberty Practical Training, a self defense school specializing in the practical applications of defensive approaches versus the theoretical. As an agorist, voluntaryist and atheist his life is seen as crazy and wild by many, though once they get to know him most realize he is a bluntly honest individual who will give you the shirt off his back if he believes it is necessary to help you. Very simple, "That which is voluntary between all individuals involved is always right, if it is not voluntary, it is always wrong."
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