What You Really Need for Bow Hunting
Bowhunting is a challenging yet rewarding sport. It provides a hobby during the off-season and an adventure during the hunting seasons. The number of accessories is overwhelming and highly customizable, here are some of the things you should consider when equipping yourself for your bow hunt.
A bombproof sight
Next to a bow and arrows, having a solid-built sight is incredibly important. A metal sight with secure mounting points and adjustments is important to having trust in your equipment. Hiking through the woods with a bow means things will hit the bow and unintended adjustments are more likely to occur. Since accessories are transferable between bows, it’s a good idea to splurge a bit on a nice sight. Having a sight that has a sturdy build and can be trusted is great peace of mind when trekking through the woods or crawling on a stalk. Look at options from brands like Spot Hogg and Black Gold, both are reputable and high-quality manufacturers.
This one seems pretty obvious, but having a place to store your arrows and broadheads is incredibly important. These come in multiple different arrow capacities and configurations. A choice of arrow capacity may primarily come down to the game of choice and personal preferences. When hunting in a backcountry scenario it may be best to have a quiver that holds 5+ arrows, as you are not able to quickly get new arrows should something happen.
Some quivers, like the tight spot, are designed to sit as close to the bow as possible, making the balance and overall footprint of the bow much smaller. Additionally, some manufacturers have come out with dual-purpose systems like the Quivalizer, which act as both a quiver and a stabilizer.
Bowhunting requires the hunter to be close to an animal, close enough where your scent can expose your position. Carrying a wind checker to help you know where your scent is going is incredibly important. There are two major varieties of a wind checker, one being a simple powder style checker that comes in a container and shoots a fine odorless powder into the air that dissolves over a distance. The second style is a floating style, which is a little piece of light material that floats in the wind.
The wind floaters are very nice because they let you see how the wind changes over a longer distance. In mountain-type environments, this is beneficial because thermals exist and can affect the wind drastically in different directions. Likewise, in tree stands, these are nice because you can see how your scent would travel as it gets closer to the ground, since wind may be different higher up in a tree than it is on the ground.
A quality rangefinder is important in any bowhunting situation. For bow hunting only, these aren’t terribly expensive. Vortex makes a rangefinder that is affordable and comes with a top-of-the-line warranty. No questions asked repairs and returns on any damaged vortex products. Leupold’s RX Full Draw is currently a top-tier range finder with onboard software to angle compensate and show you your arrows flight arc, however, it comes with a higher price. For shooting in tight situations through trees is brush, this is great to make sure your arrow doesn’t hit an obstruction during its flight.
Reliable sight illumination
Every state and country will have different regulations on this, but having a sight with an illuminated fiber optic is great for low light situations. Animals tend to move most during dawn and dusk, and these tend to be low-light situations. Most sight manufacturers sell battery-operated lights that attach to your sight and allow you to adjust brightness on your reticle.
If you hunt in a place where sight lights are not allowed, try to be conscious of the style of sight you are purchasing and purchase one with a lot of exposed fiber. This will help draw in light into your sight pins no matter the scenario.
Stabilization is a highly personal choice for archery but is generally needed for stable and repeatable shooting. Stabilizers not only help bring some balance to your bow but can also help with vibrations and can dampen the sound your bow gives off when shooting. While length and weight are highly customizable for each stabilizer, some things to think about is what fits your rig best based on your style.
Longer stabilizers typically help a bow stay steady, at the expense of weight and portability. Long-distance shooting, like western-style hunting, might be a better choice for longer stabilizers, but may not be the best if hunting out of a blind or a tree stand where space is important.
Additionally, if you plan on hunting with a quiver, a side stabilizer can be a good choice to balance the additional weight a quiver has in your bow. Again, this is highly dependent on your hunting scenario, because hunting on the move doesn’t give you a ton of flexibility while hunting from a stationary position may allow you to take your quiver off your bow while you wait for a shot opportunity.
A quality release and maybe even a backup
Release aids can vary drastically between styles and manufacturers, and come down to preference. However, when hunting and the pressure comes on, having a reliable release is a major factor in success or failure during your shot process. There are many different styles of releases, but generally finding one with a locking jaw is a good idea. These two releases below, both have locking jaws that assure your release stays attached to your d loop.
Index style releases, like the one on the left, are great because they typically come with wrist straps and will be accessible when needed. Alternatively, releases like the thumb release on the right can be locked onto your d loop and can hang from your string. Similar to the image below. Both are good ways to keep your release accessible when needed.
Having a backup is also a good idea in case you drop or damage your release while hunting. There is no worse feeling than dropping a piece of equipment out of a tree stand, knowing you need to go down the tree and potentially ruin your hunt to get your gear.
Quiet and Layered Hunting Clothes
When bow hunting, you will likely end up spending a lot of time near your game and also sitting still for extended periods of time. Quiet clothing is crucial to keeping your movements undetected in the time it’s needed. Opt for “soft” clothing for these scenarios. Windbreaker-type materials and many waterproof materials may not be the best choice as an exterior shell because they tend to be made of noisy fabric. Sitka makes their Fanatic line specifically for bow hunting and they are a quality, top-of-the-line choice.
Additionally, sitting in a single position for a long time means you will likely get cold easily. Wearing layers is a good choice here to help you get into your hunting spot without sweating and being able to bundle up where needed. For base layers, merino wool is a great choice because it is warm and moisture-wicking. While expensive, the Sitka Fanatic Hoody may be one of the single greatest pieces of hunting clothing designed. It functions as a base layer but also has a built-in hood, face mask, thumbholes for your sleeves, and even finger covers to keep your hands warm.
The fanatic hoody can be used as a base layer in a large variety of hunting environments, making it a good investment. It comes in a variety of camo options and also single color options to match your camo choices. Beyond base layers, your clothing choices are based on your hunting environment and weather.