“It’s just too easy.” It’s a common objection I hear regularly when the topic of hunting and killing an animal with modern equipment comes up. “It’s not fair,” they will say. Of course this statement is most often uttered by someone who has never hunted in their life.
Well, let me tell you about easy…
Tomorrow is opening day for archery whitetail deer and fall turkey in my state, and it will be my second season as a bowhunter. I have a modern compound bow made of aluminum and fiberglass, fitted with a top-notch sight with lighted, fiber-optic pins. I have a top of the line drop-away arrow rest on the bow, through which I shoot state-of-the-art carbon fiber arrows. I wear great camouflage clothing, use special soaps and sprays to mask my human scent, while perched 20 feet up in a tree…all measures intended to make me invisible to my quarry. Too easy, right? Not fair at all.
You know how many animals I have killed with that setup?
None. I bowhunted from last October well into January and killed nothing more than time. High tech automatic game cameras on the property I hunt prove that the game is there, but in all that time, I only even saw one deer which I could have shot. A small spike buck came within 15 yards of my stand on my very first day out last fall, but I decided not to shoot since I can only take one antlered deer per season in my state. I was sure a better opportunity would come along another day, and I was wrong.
Sure it’s easy. Sure it’s not fair. It’s easy for the deer to figure out that there’s an intruder in his house, if I make even the tiniest of mistakes. It’s his house. And it isn’t fair that he can out-hear, out-smell, and outrun me anytime he wants. He’s not a defenseless animal. Those sharper senses and knowledge of the woods he lives in are his defenses, and I have to defeat them all to even have a shot at killing him.
And I still have to make the shot. Balanced on a 2-foot square platform, 20 feet in the air, I have to place an arrow inside an 8-inch circle to kill him. Easy? It only even approaches easy after hours and hours and hours of practice. Did I mention I only started bow hunting last year? If you think you can just pick up a compound bow and start drilling arrows into the center bullseye, you have another think coming.
Despite all the modern advantages of a compound bow, shooting one well requires a great deal of body awareness, focus, and consistency. You don’t develop that in a day. The other thing you don’t develop right away is the simple, muscular strength to draw a bow which holds enough power to kill a large animal. It took me months of shooting 4-5 days per week to build the strength to get my bow to its full, 65-pound draw weight…while maintaining the consistent form required to release the arrow smoothly and accurately every time. And don’t think you can just set the bow down when the season ends and be able to perform when the next opening day rolls around. All that form and strength must be maintained in the off-season if you want to be able to shoot well next year.
You might be thinking, “OK, Dave, I’ll concede that bow hunting is not easy. But what about hunting with a modern, scoped rifle? All you have to do is line up the crosshairs from hundreds of yards away.”
Ever try it?
Let me tell you about two elk hunts I went on in Colorado and New Mexico, where I never even chambered a round…much less killed an elk. So easy.
Pack up gear to hunt and camp for 7 days in remote mountains, and then drive 1,800 miles (one way) from my home to those western mountains. Establish a camp, and then begin the process of waking up in the dark, hiking into mountain elevations exceeding 8000 feet…all while carrying the gear necessary to stay out for a day, hopefully kill an elk, butcher it, and then carry it back out. Be in place before daylight, and then glass and glass and glass until your eyeballs want to jump out of your head.
Listen to elks bugle while calling to them for hours, only to have a bull answer, move closer…and then circle to get your wind and disappear. He didn’t get to be a big bull by being stupid, and he’s been hunted before.
Have the weather turn cold and force the elk into a different movement pattern, so that no matter where you go, you can no longer find them. At least not until you spot a lone bull on the cloudy crest of a ridge. He’s within easy shooting range, but his vitals are obscured by brush…and he’s looking right at you. If you move, he’s gone…so you freeze and wait for him to look away for just a second so you can get into a shooting position. Wait…for him to step away from the brush and into a clear shot. But he does neither. He stands there and stares at you for a hundred years, both of you frozen…until he simply turns and disappears down the far side of that ridge. Out of sight and gone.
Easy? Easy is going to the grocery store and buying packaged hamburger (cheaper, too). But easy doesn’t get you views like this…
Views like this are some of the reasons we go out to hunt. The truth is, there are lots of reasons to hunt.
But easy ain’t one of them.