Rob Bristow/BONEHEAD OUTDOORS
To understand why some bow hunters and gun hunters don’t get along, you have to look at things from a different perspective.
Let’s be honest, most of you reading this probably hunt with a gun and a bow, and may not even know there’s an issue.
The truth is, they both work. Bow hunters and gun hunters stand by the products they love, and they scout and hunt just as hard as the other. So why is there an issue?
Let’s take a look at things from both sides before we dive in and determine if we can ever squash this debate.
Before bow hunters and gun hunters, there were just hunters
Back when I started hunting, we watched the majority of the hunting shows on VHS. Back then, Mossy Oak had Mega Bucks, Realtree had Monster Bucks, Primos had The Truth and Lohman’s had The Challenges. Each of these programs featured outdoorsmen who were truly hunting.
They weren’t gun hunters or muzzleloader hunters, bow hunters or crossbow hunters, they were just hunters. I would be willing to bet any of those hunters featured in those VHS series, if they’re still hunting today, are hunting with both a bow and a gun.
So why is there an issue between the two today?
Why some gun hunters don’t like bow hunters
Of course this doesn’t apply to all gun hunters, only the few that you see on social media spitting out slurs at bow hunters. But why? Well, I have some theories.
Gun hunters are set around tradition. They’ve always hunted a certain way and that’s how they like it. But, is that the only reason they’re gun hunters? Absolutely not.
Some gun hunters only can hunt a few days a year and want to get out and fill their freezer. Some can’t afford a new bow every few years. They’ve had one gun their entire life that consistently gets the job done. Many gun hunters like the ability to reach out a little farther and know they have the best chance at harvesting an animal.
But ultimately, some gun hunters just like firearms. So why don’t some of them like bow hunters?
In most states, the gun season is often shorter than the bow season. Bow hunters usually get to hunt both gun and bow season, whereas gun hunters have to wait their turn.
Bow hunters also get to hunt in many areas rifles and shotguns aren’t allowed.
A deer hunter who hunts with both a bow and a gun would say that seems fair. For someone who only hunts with a gun, though, this may not seem fair at all. Of course, certain restricted areas are designated that way for safety reasons, but some gun hunters seem to believe that the bow hunters get all the pampering.
Why some bow hunters don’t favor gun hunting
Bowhunting, as we discussed earlier, isn’t new, but it is a hot commodity. If you watch any hunting shows online or on television, it feels like absolutely everyone is doing it.
People have quickly caught on to this exciting yet challenging way to hunt game animals. So why do some bow hunters get so upset with gun hunters?
Bow hunters have a disadvantage in the woods. Primarily, the deer have to come closer, causing the hunter to rely more on scouting, skills, experience, and luck. Most bow hunters need to be inside a 50-yard-or-less radius in order to be successful.
Gun hunters will often come across this same challenge. But if a longer shot presents itself, it’s still an option to gun hunters and not bow hunters.
So whats the big deal?
Some bow hunters point out that their weapon of choice produces less noise, therefore less of a disturbance in the woods. Once someone adjusts to using a bow exclusively, they often find themselves wanting gun hunters to have the same disadvantage.
Some bow hunters have it in their head that gun hunting is easier than bow hunting, which in many senses is true. However, bow hunters shouldn’t lose sight that hunting overall is still challenging. That’s the beauty of it, and that’s why some hunters choose to gun and bow hunt equally.
Part of me thinks that if every gun hunter agreed to never shoot a deer outside of 50 yards, everyone would settle down. But then if you threw a crossbow in the mix, you’d have to start all over! That’s probably a topic for another day altogether.
Hunting as compared to golf
It might seem weird, but to help get my point across, I’m going to make a bold statement.
Deer hunting and golf actually have a lot in common. Consider those who choose to golf from the professional tees to be the bow hunters. If bow hunters played golf with those who shoot from the closer tee box, they would constantly be at a disadvantage. So why don’t they just join them for the easier, higher percentage shot?
I truly think it’s because they like to challenge themselves. They enjoy it. But why don’t the guys playing from the closer tee box challenge themselves by playing from the pro box? Maybe they enjoy it and have nothing to prove. Maybe they don’t have much time and they just want to get out there and quickly play a round of golf. Sometimes the game is good, sometimes it is bad, but they know their abilities and they like it that way.
The biggest thing to remember: Some people just enjoy playing golf. They don’t care how they play, and some of them don’t even keep score. But to others, it’s much more meaningful. They want to get better. They want to improve their game and better their score.
Hunting is quite the same way. When bow hunters and gun hunters can agree to disagree, things will change.
So when will bow hunters and gun hunters get along?
The truth is, deep down there’s really no hatred.
Consider this scenario. There’s a bow hunter sitting at a bar. A group of guys walk in, and one of them starts talking about a buck he just shot with his gun last week.
Deer hunters love to talk about hunting, whether they hunt with a bow or a gun. They’ll share their hunting stories, and at the end of the day, they head off wishing each other luck on their next sit. Bows or guns, they have a lot more in common than they think.
Those guys aren’t instantly going to hate each other. They’re going to find the story just as entertaining whether it was an arrow or a bullet.
Hunting is their common ground. It’s the common ground for all of us. Bow hunters and gun hunters will always get along when they realize this.
Social media groups can be detrimental to unlike minds, and that’s where the most controversy comes out. I’d be willing to bet if most of the conversations that take place on social media happened face to face, the negativity would be dialed way back.
Should it matter?
At the end of the day, it shouldn’t matter what your choice of weapon is. What should matter is that each day you’re out hunting, you’re making sure you’re enjoying it.
The most memorable hunts I’ve ever been on are with my father and grandfather. Some were with my old Golden Eagle compound bow in the late ’90s and early 2000s, while others were with my father’s open-sight rifle.
For me, hunting isn’t about being the best, it’s about just enjoying the outdoors. I’ll be the first to admit I lost sight of that over the past few years, and I finally got it back. If the only way I could get outdoors was with a slingshot, I’d take it.
My father never taught me to be a bow hunter or a gun hunter. He raised me to be a deer hunter, and that is exactly what all of us are.
Featured image artwork Provided by Rob Bristow of BONEHEAD OUTDOORS