The Advantages of Bowhunting Small Game

Posted: 06/03/2012 in Archery, Hunting, Traditional
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by Fred Eichler • May 24, 2012

The light lit up the frog’s eyes and an arrow flashed silently through the dark, skewering the green bullfrog to the bank. A “whoop” that sounded like an Indian war cry split the night’s silence as my boys went splashing through the water to lay claim to the tasty little amphibian. Besides a little squabbling over who got the next shot, we were all having a blast. Armed with longbows and recurves, we scored on frogs from pointblank range to 25 yards. There were plenty of misses, and I was getting a kick out of listening to the sounds my crew made. It was like watching fireworks, except instead of “ooohs” and “ahhs” there were groans of disappointment or shouts of joy. I don’t think my wife and I or our boys could have had more fun.

I have often been asked what my favorite species to hunt is. My response is usually, “Whatever I am hunting at the time.” For example, if I am hunting squirrels, then that is my favorite species at that moment. The same holds true for whatever I am pursuing.

The beauty of being a small game enthusiast is that there is always something in season. Although big game usually gets all the exposure on TV and in magazines, I feel bad for any bowhunter who doesn’t get to enjoy the experience of bowhunting small game. Besides being able to extend your season all year, if you really want a challenge, try shooting a squirrel on a limb with your traditional bow.

I have had some of my best times afield chasing small game. I have also turned some hunts that would have been unsuccessful into a fun-filled trip where I ran out of arrows long before I ran out of targets. In fact, on a Dall sheep hunt years ago in Alaska, my guide and I were really having poor luck finding any sheep. While hiking up a steep ridge, we flushed a covey of ptarmigan. My guide cracked up when I said, “Let’s turn this into an Alaskan ptarmigan hunt!” I had a blast over the last few days of that hunt, chasing those beautiful birds up and down the mountains. My guide was laughing, and he actually thanked me for turning a trip he felt bad about into a fun hunt where we ate a bunch of those delicious birds.

On a Tule elk hunt just last year, my guide was laughing as I yelled for him to stop the truck when I spotted a long-eared jackrabbit. He also chuckled when it took me three shots to get that wascally wabbit.

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