Choosing the Best Hunting Method For You

c927-Bowie-Coast-hunting-knifeThough hunting is enjoyed by millions of people each year, they don’t all define hunting the same way.  There are several drastically different ways that the sport can be experienced.  Each of the different hunting methods allows hunters to experience different aspects of the sport, providing them with different ways to enjoy their trip.  Different hunting methods may not be right for everyone, so to make sure that you get the most out of your experience it’s important that you take the time to learn about the different options available to you so that you can choose the hunting method that you’ll enjoy the most.

Rifle Hunting
One of the most well-known forms of hunting is rifle hunting.  There is generally minimal hunting gear required for rifle hunting, with little more than a rifle (with or without a scope), ammunition, a hunting knife for cleaning, the appropriate attire for the terrain and any general camping or hiking gear.  Though aim, patience, and the ability to handle a rifle are key to being a successful rifle hunter, many consider rifle hunting to be slightly easier than using a bow simply because it is easier to load a rifle and make a kill with a bullet than it is to use a bow.  Rifles can be used for almost any type of game, ranging from .22 caliber rifles that are used for small game to larger rifles that may be used for elk, bear and other game.

Bow Hunting

Requiring a slightly higher degree of skill than rifle hunting, bow hunting is the preferred hunting type for those who wish to get more in touch with the primal nature of the sport.  Bow hunting is quieter than rifle hunting, allowing you more opportunities to bag several animals since others won’t be spooked and scatted when you fire.  Bow hunters generally carry their bow, a hunting knife, extra arrows and arrowheads, extra bowstrings in case of breakage or other string damage, and a rangefinder in their hunting gear.  Since bows generally can’t produce the same type of power as rifles, aim and accuracy are much more important in bow hunting because you won’t have the same type of “stopping power” that you would with a bullet.  Bow hunting is generally restricted to large game, as small animals and waterfowl can make very difficult targets for a bow hunter.

Using Decoys
Decoys are an important piece of hunting gear for those that enjoy using them, though they aren’t for everybody.  Decoys are more often used for hunting waterfowl than they are for large game such as deer and elk, though large game decoys do exist.  They are generally used in conjunction with calls or scents in order to draw game to them, and are placed in sight of hunters within a hide or a blind.  The use of decoys can reduce the skill level needed for a successful hunt, as they will bring game into areas where it might not have been previously, but they can increase the chances of having a successful hunt (which is especially important if you are hunting for meat instead of trophies.)

Tracking
Regardless of the weapon used for hunting, many hunters choose to track their game instead of simply waiting for the game to come to them.  Generally bow hunters are slightly more likely to track than rifle hunters, but this is more because a bow is quieter and less likely to spook game if the hunter misses. Tracking requires skill in the form of being able to identify animal tracks and signs that your desired game has been in the area recently, but a skilled tracker can almost guarantee contact with the game that they are hunting.  Hunting gear for trackers tends to be a bit more sparse and lightweight, since they will have to carry everything with them the entire time that they are hunting.

Blinds and Hides
The use of blinds, hides, lodges, and similar hiding spots is more common than tracking because it requires little more than patience in order to have a successful hunt.  Blinds and hides are set up in areas where the desired game is common, and then the hunters simply wait in their hiding spot for their targets to arrive.  Hunting gear can be stored in the blind in greater abundance, ensuring that you’ll always have what you need.  The main drawback to using a blind or a lodge is that they can take time to set up and there is no guarantee that the desired game will make an appearance.

~Ben Anton, 2009

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