Benefits of Bowhunting, Part 1: The Big Picture Items
If you've grown up bowhunting, you know first-hand what an incredible, transformational experience it can be, and you probably have hundreds of memories of time spent with family and friends, out in nature, harvesting game for you and your loved ones to eat. That’s wonderful, and we’d love it if you shared those memories with us.
If you're never been bowhunting and are considering it—or if you simply need a quick reminder about why it's so wonderful!—we put together this quick list of the benefits of bowhunting. Some are very personal, some are true to all bowhunters, and some are true to all kinds of hunting.
If you’ve got a few benefits that we’ve missed, get on the horn and let us know! We’d love to hear from you.
There's an Unexplainable Satisfaction in Providing Sustenance for You and Your Loved Ones
Perhaps we should omit the benefits that are difficult to put into works, but the benefit of putting food on the table too important to leave out. In short, it's a profoundly satisfying feeling—a sense of accomplishment, and safety, and fulfillment, that makes all the difficulty and frustration of a hunt 100% worth it.
So much of our lives are spent worrying about keeping everyone safe, keeping everyone fed, keeping everyone OK—and that's especially true if you're a parent. That worry you have as a parent is normal and good, and it's an integral part of who we are as people—very mother and father in every culture is worried about providing food and health and safety to their kids, and when you're around the table after the hunt, seeing the people you love chomping away, being happy and healthy, and knowing that your efforts and your skill made it happen—it's indescribable, really, so we'll keep it simple: it's a really, really good feeling.
And, speaking of family...
Bowhunting Can Become a Family Tradition
We don't have any studies or figures about this, but it's a pretty safe bet that a LOT of people learn about bowhunting from their parents. Hunting techniques, strategies, and even hunting weapons are passed down generation to generation, and the vehicle of sharing knowledge—through relationships—is an amazing thing, and very human. Plenty of species are born with an understanding of how to mate, how to eat, and how to self-sustain—but humans aren't like that. We can teach each other, and that's a key to our longevity.
We've noticed, in recent years, that people are getting into bowhunting WITHOUT family involvement—many come from the world or target archery, and expand into bowhunting—and that's wonderful, too. One of our missions as a website is to preserve and promote bowhunting, so however you get into it—awesome! We're glad you're here.
But there's something special about taking your kids out into nature, explaining to them how the land around your family's home supports and sustains the animal population, and then describing the animal population—their needs and actions and habits—and teaching them how to feed themselves.
No Two Ways About It: Hunting is Conservation
Hunters play a major role in nature and land conservation, in ways that are sadly overlooked by the population at large. Hunters and hunting regulations are responsible for:
Resurgence of Endangered Populations. Hunters have launched conservation efforts that have brought the elk population from 41,000 to over a million, the pronghorn population from 12,000 to over a million, and the duck population—which had almost been extinct—to over 44 million!
Stabilization of Animal Groups. Hunters keep predator populations from exploding and disrupting the natural balance of species, and by inhibiting outbreaks of disease from spreading between species; and
Maintenance and Protection of Lands and Species. Every year, hunters spend hundreds of millions of dollars on taxes and fees that pay for wildlife law enforcement efforts, land conservation research, and upkeep for our public lands.
People who are unfamiliar with hunting sometimes have a difficult time with this concept. "How does hunting an animal preserve it?" And, honestly, it's a fair question! It can be difficult to understand, but hunters *want* there to be animals to hunting, and the regulations that hunter push for keep animal populations safe and steady.
Hunting Gets You to Unplug for a Just a Gosh Darn Second
We are all unbelievably connected via our devices, and if you're under the age of, say, 58, you're probably too connected to your devices. Have you ever been watching TV, got bored with what you were watching, and then checked your phone—while you were still watching TV? We've all done it, and that's what we're talking about. We are unbelievably dependent on electronic devices, and that's not a good thing. Electronic devices, no doubt, do a lot of wonderful things, but that doesn't mean our oversaturation with electronic devices is good for us, and study after study has shown that our devices make us antsy, edgy, and distracted.
Hunting is an escape from all that. Just you, your bow, and your quarry, and NATURE. You get to see the stars and simply wonder what you're looking at. You get to see the sun rise, instead of staring at the scenic screensaver on your laptop. You get to see BIG and beautiful things, instead of staring at beautiful things on your little phone.
The funny thing is, even before the advent of hyper-connected-ness, hunting was a great way to escape it all. Even before iPads and wifi and video on demand, hunters needed to "get away from it all," even when "it all" was probably just TV and whatever was around before the internet.
Anyway, all this talk about connectedness brings us to the next of our benefits of bowhunting:
Bowhunting Teaches You Patience and Self-Discipline and A Whole Bunch of Other Qualities That Make You a Good Human
Have you ever heard about that study they did years ago, where they sat little kids down in front of a marshmallow, and said, "You can eat the marshmallow at any time you want, but if you wait ten minutes before eating the marshmallow, we'll give you TEN marshmallows." Kid after kid couldn't take it, and gobbled down the marshmallow, but there were a few kids who struggled and struggled and struggled and held off. The researchers then followed up with the kids 20 and 30 years later, and each of the kids that could refrain from scooping off the marshmallow—that is, the kid who exercise self-control, discipline, and a bunch of other fantastic traits—were more successful than the kids who couldn't hold off.
The study reveals a lot about human nature—mainly about how the ability to put off satisfaction is an indicator of future life success, but it shows that the attributes of your character MATTER, and they matter a lot.
The wonderful thing is, if you're a little "low" in the characteristics that count, you can work on them and develop them, and hunting can get you there. It's intrinsically difficult, and need perseverance and discipline to develop your skills—your archery skills, your tracking skills, and your stalking skills. You need patience to stalk your prey for days, and even if—especially if!—you're hunting from a ground blind or a tree stand. And you need to self-control to refrain from taking a shot that you almost have but shouldn't take. With the right focus and the ability to transfer what you've learned in the wild to your "home" life, hunting can make you a better person.
(By the way, if you've ever seen hunting videos on YouTube, they kind of prove our point—they take a three-day hunt that requires patience and perseverance and focus, and they boil the hunt down into an 8-minute clip for viewers who can't even pay attention for those eight minutes. There's something funny about that).
You Will Be Ready for the Lawless Wasteland We Face During the End of Times
Humans have been long-fascinated with apocalyptical situations, and that obsession has intensified in the last decade or two. Think of all the incredible works of art we've enjoyed over the last couple of years: Mad Max, the Walking Dead, Cormac McCarthy's The Road, World War Z (the book, not the movie), Battlestar Galactica, Dr. Strangelove, Terminator, The Stand, The Handmaid's Tale, Children of Men, Twelve Monkeys, Independence Day, Resident Evil, the Matrix, 28 Days Later, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Y: The Last Man, I am Legend, The Hunger Games, A Boy and His Dog, even the sadly under-rated Water World—we loooooove stories about how it's all going to fall apart. Whether it's zombies, aliens, plagues, or the good-old-fashioned destruction of the social order, we seem to love a good apocalypse.
So... how to do you think you're going to feed your dirty tribe of nomadic warriors when the End Times cometh? Not with agriculture, that's for sure. Nomadic tribes of road warriors who haven't eaten in days will descend upon you and destroy your crops. Agriculture requires some sort of reliable social structure, and that's gone, baby, gone.
Yep! You're going to need to hunt, and that's that. While the rest of your friends spend their autumns bowling and passively watching football, you're spending your time honing your hunting skills, getting ready for the apocalypse. We're not really preppers, and that's certainly not what this site is about, but it's fun to dip your toe in every once in a while. And, truly—if the end times ever do happen, hunters will have an advantage!
You Get to Appreciate Nature
Our last entry got a little intense, so we'll dial it down and get back to basics for this benefit: you get to enjoy nature, and that's no small benefit, as the joys of nature are limitless.
Visit any one of our national parks for a day, and you'll open yourself to amazement. From Acadia to Zion, we are blessed with an abundance of beauty that is beyond words, and sights that you'll remember for a lifetime. From the waterfalls and valleys at Yosemite...
...to the structures at Arches National Park...
...to the canyons at Zion...
...our public lands are an incredible thing, and you're part owner of them (which we'll explain below).
The incredible part is, those are the "showy" examples of nature—the most over-the-top, breathe-taking, incredible sites in our land. They're fantastic, but even the smaller sites can renew your spirit—a simple canopy of trees somewhere on the Appalachian Trail can be just as inspiring and wonderful as El Capitan at Yosemite.
Our day-to-day lives can be wonderful, but there's just something missing without an experience of nature every once in a while. Hunting—regardless of whether it's on public land or private—allows you to reconnect, and that's incredible. As the good man said, "Even a hunting trip with no harvest is a trip spend in nature, and that's worthwhile enough."
You Source Your Own Food and Get Away from Factory Farming
We know a bunch of folks who started bowhunting later in life, and every single one of them says the same thing: "I never realized hunters were so obsessed with the animal's well-being." It's an odd thing, because the ultimate goal of a bowhunter is to harvest an animal, but it really is true—hunters are obsessed with taking ethical shots and putting animals down quickly and efficiently. Go on any bowhunting forum, and you'll see discussion after discussion about how to hunt ethically and in a way that doesn't cause animals pain.
And that's one of the awful things about factory farming: it’s not great for animals. Pain and suffering are often a part of the process. There are some good farms, and recent efforts at cruelty-free and humanely-raised meat are definitely steps in the right direction, but very often, the meat on your plate came from a miserable animal that was mistreated and harmed.
One thing you ARE sure about is that the venison on your plate was put down quickly and efficiently, and that you're not (at least for that meal) part of a machine that contributes to extensive animal suffering. Your meat is organic and free-range and lean and 100% untouched by factory farming. It can be hard to ensure that all of your meat protein is ethically sourced, especially if you go to restaurants or eat at friends' houses or social functions, but it's good to know that you're part of the solution.
By the way, a distaste for factory farming is one of the reasons why we're seeing new bowhunters. Men and women who are concerned about cruelty to animals, but who are meat-eaters themselves, are seeking new ways to provide meat proteins for themselves, and bowhunting is a fantastic way to do that. If that describes you, welcome! We're glad you're here!
It Creates Tax Revenues and Jobs
We mentioned this about in the benefit about conservation, but we'll take a closer look here. Hunting provides billions—and that's "billions" with a b, like "bucks" and "buckaroos"—of dollars that benefit our economy. Consider the following:
Fee Monies. The fees involved with state licensing—that is, the hunting licenses required to harvest game—are in the hundreds of millions of dollars. That money allows states to hire professionals who can track game populations, come up with strategies to keep those populations where they should be, and maintain state and federal lands that support those populations;
Tax Revenue. There's a tax on BOWS AND ARROWS and all archery equipment that goes to federal government is used to protect our public lands, maintain wildlife, and manage our parks; and
Jobs! The hunting and bowhunting industries create hundreds of thousands of jobs, ranging from research and development jobs (like bow and equipment development), to manufacturing jobs (archery equipment, but also clothing manufacture and related gear), to actual hunting professions (like game wardens and outfitters), to travel and leisure jobs (hotels, flights, vacations, etc.).
Hunting and bowhunting are a BIG business, and that's great for the economy—and certainly great if you want to get a job related to bowhunting!
You Are Supporting Our Public Lands
People don't seem to understand: if you are a citizen of the United States, you are part of owner of approximately 600 million acres of public land. That land includes national parks, wildlife reserves, and water resources. With the proper permission, you are allowed to hunt, fish, hike, camp, and enjoy all these lands.
Think about that for a second! That's absolutely amazing.
We were lucky enough to interview Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, who have made it their mission to protect our land and waters, and our access to them. Give it a read if you get a chance—it's pretty magnificent stuff.
Bowhunting is Good for Your Health
We discussed factory farming above, and how everything you harvest will be free-range and 100% organic. That can be a dramatic improvement to your diet—no weird hormones, antibiotics, or preservatives added to your meat—and that alone can be a boon to your well-being.
But bowhunting can get you in shape, too. Sure, you can make bowhunting a low-effort pastime—we've all whittled away the hours in a ground blind once or twice—but if you so desire, bowhunting can be very good for your health, and it can be an incredible workout. If you're a spot-and-stalk bowhunter, you'll be covering a lot of uneven ground over a long period of time, and getting a great workout as you do so.
Not only that, though—but because hunting is basically a year-round event that you only do during a specific season, getting ready for the hunt can get you healthy, too. Getting in shape in the off-season is incredibly important, and if you're exercising year-round for your end-of-year hunt, that's not only good for your upcoming hunting trip, it's good for your body.
We'll Have More Later
There are 200 to 300 more reasons why bowhunting is a fantastic way of life, and we'll occasionally post more about why we love it so much. In the meantime, hopefully there's something here that makes you want to contact your state's game department, get that hunting license, and head out onto our public lands. We wish you all the best—good luck, have fun, and happy hunting!