Rifle hunting vs. Archery hunting

If given the choice, how would you prefer to harvest your game animal?

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Larry Cochran

Utah Buck 2010
Jan 8, 2011
Alpine, Ca
I have been hunting big game for the last 15 years and have chosen to put down my rifle for my bow. I get a lot more satisfaction harvesting an animal with my bow. Does anyone else think as I do? Let me know?

Larry Cochran
You know how I feel bro, I love all types of hunting but even after 35 plus years of bow hunting I enjoy it more now than ever. I do like to rifle hunt and I really want to get out this year and see if I can help Justin (son) get his first rifle buck but being in the woods and being so close to deer to make a good shot is a rush that rifle hunting can not fill. I do like to hunt rifle out of state if I have the chance just because you are at a better chance of filling your exspensive tag with a rifle but archery is my first choice all the time.
I agree Mike, it all comes down to meat in the freezer and I will use my rifle, bow, hands or what ever else is needed to fill the freezer. The thrill of archery is awesome and hard to match else where. I am sure we will take many animals in the future with our bows and rifles.
I have never harvested an animal with either but I enjoy my bow much more. I know bows have gotten soo high tech but I still get that primitive feel, if you know what I mean?
The bow you have is very high tech and you will get yoru first deer in Utah this year Kenny, Just keep practising and making the shoots and your freezer will be full by years end, peace.
I also use both. My heart is in the bow and that is the only thing I have filled a tag with. I do also hunt rifle but I get irritated at the different type of hunters it seems to bring in, specially the last couple years. Rifle season reminds me of dove opener. There are hunters everywhere. I can't wait for the season to end just to get back to the silence of all us archers. Truly I feel archery teaches us more about the sports and I feel you learn more the game. But with that I am not one that has brought down large amount of big game. So whatever legal comes into my sights I will take until I get to the point that I too can turn away for the bigger one. I will pass on a deer for one of my boys to take it instead.

Until then I am proud of my one deer with my Bow Tech "Air Raid"

See ya

Great comments Wheels, I agree I really dont waste my time rifle hunting mainly for the purpose of there are guys everywhere, also the rut starts to kickin during rifle and that is when I am in my stand 24/7, Welcome aboard look forward to see you in the field and glad to see you shoot a Bow Tech, peace.

Mike Pritzl
Great comments guys!! I started hating rifle season the day I saw a bunch of guys jumping out of their truck trying to hunt with AR-15's with tactical scopes.... come on what the hell!! it just make me dammed nervous to be walking out there with a bunch of animals (two legged).

I thing I will use a rifle like Mike said ... if I go hunting in Alaska where there is no one but me and 2 or 3 hunting pals and no one else, I love the fact that the rifle with the right ammo will bring the animal fast and with less pain and log shots in a clean standing position (no cheating) are very challenging and adrenaline is present.

The bow is more traditional and I love it but not from a tree stand I like to scout and long walks maybe less chances to hunt but that is how I use to do it Mexico where tree stands are no too popular and the type of terrain and vegetation.

The main reason I switch to Bow was because in Mexico is a little risky even with the right permits to carry a rifle you never know what kind of son of a bitch Federal is going to screw you, so we decided to switch for bow and arrow and when they use to check us at search points they will laugh and make jokes about it. :D

Happy hunting
As much as I love untng with guns, I still get the most thrilll bow hunting for deer and turkey. Its funny cause I hunt birds with a scatter gun, deer and turkey with both rifle and bow, a 44 mag or my 45-70 for hogs while running my dogs, and a AR15 for yotes.

I started hunting when I grew up in Japan and since gun laws are really restrictive over there my Dad hunted with a 870 magnum and a model 700 in 300 winmag. Once I moved here my only choice was the bow so I started hunting deer and turkeys in the early 90's with a old 40# martin bow which was a bitch to pull back. I think I was the only person (kid) out hunting turkey on public land in SD.

Now that my job allows me to have th equipmet I need and it allows me to purchase firearms not available to the general public, my son gets to hunt waaaaaay better then when I was a kid. I still have my first shotgun I was handed down from my uncle (old Sears model autoloader). That gun has gone turkey hunting in New Zealand, duck hunting in the valley, quail hunting, and used it to shoot my first turkey on SD public land in 96 on Palomar.
Here I go - stepping in doo doo. I am a rifle hunter - always have been and probably always will be (I do bow-fish though). I find rifle hunting challenging, fun and humane. I have had no challenges hunting in seclusion and definitely get very excited when I happen upon game. I have no problem with folks hunting with any style rifle, shotgun, muzzle-loader, bow, crossbow, slingshot, bowie knife, boom-o-rang, spear etc. as long at it is legal.

I have been applying for quite a few premium muzzle-loader tags over the years and will use that tool when the tag gets drawn. I load all of my hunting ammo and take pride in that fact that I have become a competent Western Rifleman. I only take shots within my ability and always make my shots neatly behind the game animals shoulder. I never have and never will take head shots. I have had the unfortunate opportunity to come across a live pig that had its jaw shot off by some "great marksmen" days prior. It made me sad. I have also culled many other pigs that were toting around broad-heads. I harvested about a 320 BC bull elk in New Mexico that I had to leave lay because it had a broken arrow in its paunch. The animal had been suffering from the rotting and festering of it's puss filled wound - it had been shot in the earlier bow season. I never knew it until I walked up to it (I still can't get that smell out of my head). I ate the tag obviously. I left it lay, rack and all. We did report the animal to the game authorities. I will post a picture in hunt book. While not my biggest bull, it certainly was a respectable one. Good karma goes a long way - I shot a 343 BC bull the next year in the same area.

I think there is enough room for all of us in this sport. But all of us do need to make sure we are managing our weapons in a way that harvests' game rather than wounds game. Too many folks go afield without mastering their rig.

I hope I did not offend-

Great post John,

It is great to see another hunter that takes hunting series and you seems to do a great job at it. You seem to have done a great amount of hunting. I look forward to hearing and learning more..
I’m cool with whatever a hunter wants to hunt with. Growing up we would challenge ourselves by hunting small game with 9mm and 22 pistols. I rifle hunted for years and in the beginning I was dragging my feet switching to the bow, just because deer season is short and I don’t like to eat tag soup. We would always go up North to D5 just because it was all we ever knew. I would work really hard and take an average size buck every year and a large 350 lb+ 20 inch bear my last year with the rifle. My brother and two good friends switched to the bow and just about had to beg me to go to Utah with them instead of our annual rifle hunt in D5. I got a used Mathews for my first trip. Opening morning I stalked within 14 yards of a big 3x3 named “Handlebars”. I spotted him at last light the night before opener and started my day there the next morning. I went into the dark timber and found him bedded behind some downed trees. I stalked within 14 yards trying to get a shot. Looking back I did have a small window of opportunity and screwed it up. He busted without a clear shot. I chased Handlebars for 3 days that week before he was tagged by another hunter. What I learned on that first bow hunt was more than the whole 6 years rifle hunting. I ended up shooting a very small buck that first year but I was hooked. I have not gone on a rifle hunt since. I now get closer to and shoot bigger bucks than I ever did with my -06. Anyone want to buy it?
That is a great story Jim and I respect your tenacity,

Mike and I hunted rabbits with .22's back in the day (1970's). We did not know it at the time, but a passion was being carved out for both of us - and a life long friendship. Looking back, we hunted everything legal and learned more than we knew at the time.

I do think though, that getting as close to game as possible is an experience we should all pursue. While a rifle is certainly more adaptable to hunting situations regarding distance and second shot opportunities, I believe that it is a misnomer that knowledge learned afield is based on weapons used. An example:

This past elk season we were on the last day of our annual New Mexico elk hunt; my friend Rusty still needed to fill his tag. The hunting was very difficult and the animals were up high on the mountains all week. We spotted a herd of elk about a mile away on the East face of a mountain; again the elk were 3/4 of the way up. We counted 7 elk with the spotting scope and decided to go after these animals. Anyway, Rusty got within 15 yards of the herd, which turned out to be more than 50+ elk. He worked the terrain and the wind to do so (we all know the longer the stalk the more opportunities are presented to screw up). He said he could smell the animals far before he was able to finish his stalk. Rusty was surprised (and stoked) he was able to get that close to so many cows. I say he did everything right. The result of his stalk was 1 dead elk. Rusty shoots a .260 Rem. housed in Sako 75. He spits out a very small 120-grain bullet, which requires precise shot placement at reasonable ranges when intending to smash large beasts' like elk.

One must contend that both rifle and bow offer distinct advantages. Rifle allows for longer ranges and second opportunities and a bow allows the hunting of animals that are either rutting or have had no hunting pressure and or both. Pick your poison. The muzzleloader may be the best of both. I try not to get hung up regarding what's more ethical or what requires more skill; both clearly have different challenges and opportunities. The bottom line is, stalking is stalking regardless of the object you carry. Knowledge afield is only gained by how much effort and time you spend trying to get it.

Note: Snow on top of the adjacent mountain – snow where Rusty smashed his elk. Way up high…long #@% stalk.

This thread has the making of producing allot of healthy opinions, like having a virtual hunting camp discussion if you will.



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Jim and John nicely put. Thank you both for taking to time to put your thoughts on the site. It is great to see the passion you both have for the sport. You need to develope your skills as a hunter no matter what type of weapon you hunt with either a rifle or a bow. Poeple are going to be divided on that topic, but it comes down to what you are passionate about and what you grew up doing. Thaks again.

Larry C.
I like both, I spend alot more time with my bow in my hand than with my rifle.Last year 99% of the time was spent with my bow(if i told you how much time you would call me a liar)had alot of opportunities on does and a couple of small bucks.That was very satisfiying even without taking an animal.Then I hunted about two hours with my rifle and kill a monster. Which is better?I don't know but can't wait till next season.
John makes some excellent and well thought points for discussion. It's a preference, not a measuring tool. It's about respecting nature and respecting others sharing the same resources, be it game or lands.
I've never bow hunted, maybe some day, but for now, I'm fine rifle hunting.
NBK1 said:
Knowledge afield is only gained by how much effort and time you spend trying to get it.

Well said John. I have not done much “real” elk hunting myself. Just as an add on spike/cow tag while deer hunting. Every year I get within 20 yards of big bulls in a limited entry zone, but the cows are the hard ones to find.
It’s really a personal preference based on what is challenging and exciting to you, not what is challenging and exciting to someone else. Right? Example: If I take a first time hunter out on a rifle hunt for javelina and he shot one at any range, he would be so pumped up and excited about it, and I would be excited for him. Awesome! -------- Now fast-forward a few seasons. That same guy is not going to be challenged hunting javelin with a scoped rifle and may choose to use a pistol or bow. After a few more years he may even try a recurve. I chose javelin because they are fairly easy animals to stalk after you find them.

Now the other side of the coin here. Let’s take a guy that bow hunts for deer and does pretty good every year. He would not feel challenged by filling his tag with an average deer with a rifle. Now take this same guy and change the animal to one that he has never hunted before with a tag that is impossible to get, on an expensive out of state hunt. Like sheep or limited entry bull elk. Most bow hunters would not have any problem switching to a rifle for a hunt like that and you know they would be challenged and very excited. The same goes for hunting a monster buck. If you keep spotting the same mega buck at 150 yards every time you are out with your bow, I’m sure the rifle will come out to put him down as soon as the season opens.
I’ll shake the hand of any hunter that is excited about his kill. Regardless of the weapon. Hunt on!!!!!!! 8)
Hey Jim,

The first sentence sums it up. In my opinion the rest is somewhat subjective. I read this a few times and felt there were mixed messages.

For someone new to hunting, this post reply might may give the reader the idea that hunting with a rifle is an automatic harvest - "I’m sure the rifle will come out to put him down as soon as the season opens".

That is why this type thread is subjective in itself. I do value your opinion, and I am sure it is based on what you have experienced. So I appreciate the response, it is just a bit confusing for a little brained guy like me. ;)

BTW: You have some cool videos - The Utah deer is sweet!

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