The weapon of choice for most modern elk hunters is the firearm. They learn how to stalk and takedown game with these heavy-duty armaments, and many stick with it for the rest of their lives. That choice is understandable and not a bad one. If it works well, why change it?
Some hunters, though, want to challenge themselves. They try their hand at bow hunting elk to shake things up. Often, they discover that it is much more difficult than using a firearm — but worth the effort to learn and master the art. Here are eight tips from seasoned bow hunters.
Don’t Expect Immediate Success
This tip applies to any hobby, especially when the skills are seemingly transferrable from the one you already do. We must stress that bow hunting elk is different from using a firearm. Get this into your head before you start because you will almost certainly make plenty of mistakes as you start.
On the plus side, you likely made many mistakes when you first learned to hunt, even with the advantages of a firearm. It is completely normal for archery beginners to come back empty-handed from multiple hunting trips in a row. If you embrace the challenge and have some humility, the slip-ups will hurt less. You may even find joy in the learning process.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Another straightforward and universal piece of advice is to practice regularly. Learn how to draw back the bowstring quickly and quietly. Keep trying to fire arrows until they stop falling to your feet. Hone your aim until you can at least get a dart within the vicinity of a target board.
Practicing at home is not enough, though. If you want to hone the skill of bowhunting elk, you need to get in the field and try to take down some stags. You may not feel ready, and that is fine. Every miss or misfire is an opportunity to learn. The secret to getting better is recognizing that it is all practice.
When you plan on bowhunting elk, you may want to set aside the entire day. Tracking and searching for just one of them can take a great deal of time. If you make a mistake, it may run off. With a top speed of 40 mph and a greater knowledge of its environment, it may easily outpace you and your darts.
The journey is just as important as the destination. Be patient during the hunt. Be patient with yourself. Most importantly, be patient with your tool. You did not choose the bow over the gun because it makes hunting easier. You did it because when the moment of success arrives, it will be all the more rewarding.
Rifles use the incredible force of explosions to propel their missiles across hundreds of yards. Bows use a taut string and the strength of your arm. There is no comparison: arrows simply will not travel as far as bullets. If you want a clean shot with archery, you will have to close in on your target. Much closer.
Getting within 50 yards of an elk is a big change from rifle hunting, and it may be daunting. Contrary to what you may feel in the moment, though, your chances of landing a kill shot are higher than ever. Plus, as you gain more experience, you will hone the skill and build the confidence to nail the elk from further away.
The limits of archery hunting require you to minimize the distance between you and your quarry. Of course, hunters have a great reason to stay as far away as possible: they do not want to be spotted. As you follow the elk and search for a good spot, you will need to tread lightly and quietly.
Everyone tackles the volume problem in their way. Some hunters avoid using any calls, especially when stalking a herd bull. They may cut down on tiny noises by walking in wide strides and removing zipper tags. Some even remove their boots, to avoid clomping with each step. Listen to yourself with each step and adjust as needed.
Read the Wind
You look down the length of your arrow and see that it is perfectly lined up with your target. You let it fly. It misses. All archers share this story, and wind has thwarted many a great shot. The slightest breeze can sway your lightweight bow a few crucial inches away from the elk.
The wind does not have to be your nemesis. It can boost your ability. Hunters have achieved success by finding locations where the wind tends to blow in one direction at a consistent time each day. Ask around in your area and see if anyone knows. If not, investigate yourself and master it through trial and error.
Upgrade to a Stabilizer
Keeping a bow level is important for hitting your mark. Unfortunately, it can also be tricky to do. You could get one with a built-in bubble level. However, keeping an eye on it and your target may be easier said than done. Worse, the vibrations that come from releasing the bowstring can shake your hands as the arrow is flying.
Stabilizers are tools designed to solve both these issues at once. They hang from the sides, running perpendicular to the bow. The additional weight makes it easier to balance in your hands. Better still, they absorb some of the vibrations during release, minimizing the chances of misfiring and missing. We especially recommend it for novices, though many experts rely on stabilizers as well.
Use High-Quality Equipment for Bow Hunting Elk
Bow hunting elk can present a great challenge to anyone. Experienced hunters will have to learn a new weapon from scratch and change up their techniques. Even skilled archers may find trouble felling these large and wily animals. The difficulty can make the experience all the more enjoyable and rewarding.
You can also make the experience less difficult when you use high-quality bows, arrows, stabilizers, and other equipment. All these tools and more are available right here at Stokerized Stabilizers, where quality is our top priority. We hope these pro tips help, and we are sure that our gear will come in handy.