Everything for hunting with the bow or crossbow
Apart from archery for sporting pleasure, bow hunting is practiced worldwide by passionate hunters. However, since it requires a lot of practice to shoot expertly with the bow, the danger of painful shots for the animal by untrained shooters is much higher than in conventional hunting.
For this and other reasons relating to animal protection, bowhunting is prohibited in Germany and other European countries such as Austria, Greece and Iceland. If you want to hunt native game with the bow, you can do so for example in France, Poland and Italy. Around the globe, bow hunting is very popular in the USA and in Africa.
THE SILENT HUNTER
I know very well how to be close to an animal from nature photography. I can feel my own senses getting sharper and try to become one with nature in order to not frighten or disturb the animal under any circumstances. The sounds of the animals and the noises made by their movements create an incomparable atmosphere. When hunting, this atmosphere is destroyed immediately by the bang of the rifle.
I only accept this because ultimately, I have high-quality meat at my disposal. For me this is the most important reason for hunting, because I like to control which meat ends up on my plate and where it comes from. Therefore the only way for me to realize this is by hunting on my own. The consumption of meat decreases immensely, as it is a lot of work to supply oneself with game, but it is worth it.
I am Alexander Ahrenhold, forester, hunter and nature photographer since many years. My project: The silent hunt was created by my fascination for archery, which I have had since childhood, but only in phases. The idea to combine hunting, self-supply with meat, as well as archery came up during a rather sociable session with some insider information about the effect of the arrows shot in the game body.
Together with my good friend and cameraman Joost Harenborg, the idea of capturing the way to the bowhunting license in a movie came up quite quickly. It is not our first joint film project but it will definitely be the most extensive one in the near future. We will follow the process from the ordering of my first bow to the prepared wild boar with the camera and make a documentary film from it. The training will play a big role in the beginning until I go to the bowhunting license exam and finally to the hunting trip - the highlight of the adventure - to one of the European countries where bow hunting is allowed.
How it all started...
It started like many things do actually. A bit of inspiration, a good mood and the desire to just do something.
My sister and her boyfriend have been shooting recurve bows for a long time and often have these with them when we barbecue together at hunting shacks. This is how it came about that I also shot a recurve bow and was immediately thrown back into my youth. Admittedly it is not too far away yet, but the feeling to shoot a bow again was great. We are hunters and so the conversation about hunting with bow and arrow was inevitable. A few days later it was clear to me that this is what I want to do. I wanted to start with bow training and take it so far that I would be able to go hunting with the bow. But it was also clear to me that I want to be successful as soon as possible and, above all, be accurate, which is why only the compound bow was an option for me.
My order a few days later at BogenSportWelt followed way too fast and with far too little information. I, as a photographer and social media fan, bought my bow according to my visual requirements to a certain extent. The Hoyt Powermax was my first choice. The positioning of the limbs and the cams appealed to me immediately, so I informed myself some more about the bow. YouTube and all the other reports were very promising. The only thing I could not estimate was the weight of 60-70 pounds, but since I am relatively sporty, I thought that this should not be a problem. I decided to go for a "Ready to hunt" package, which included everything except the loop, the release and the arrows. Without informing me beforehand, I bought - in hindsight a little unwise - 500 spine arrows in a 12-pack. The release was a cheap but positively-rated plier release with a wrist loop, which should do its job.
The order was placed. The anticipation rose from day to day for the next week until the package arrived and then it was finally time. A freezing cold, windy and rainy March day was the day of days. My parcel had arrived. I put everything together and wanted to finally get out and shoot. I took the cardboard from the bow itself as a target and when I was standing on the corn field where I wanted to shoot for the first time, I got a pretty nasty surprise. I inserted an arrow and clamped the release into the loop, just like I had looked at and studied it several times on the internet before. But there was one problem. I was not able to get the bow drawn. No matter what I tried, it did not work. I was more than disappointed. I also did not have the right wrenches in my house so the bow could not be adjusted. I had no other choice than to be patient and wait until I passed by a hardware store to buy hex wrenches. Since I lived quite far away from civilization, it was not easy for me to get these quickly and for me there is nothing worse than having something new that I cannot try. But what can you do?... A few days later I had the wrenches, could take some weight off the bow and would you look at that, I managed to draw it. Now I was able to do the first shots and I soon realized that there was no way to stop an arrow from a compound bow with my cardboard box, so I had to use proper targets, but I will tell you more about that in the next part.
The learning process on the way to the right target
No matter what hobby or passion you are passionate about, after a certain point this hobby becomes expensive, I keep realizing that. Whether it is photography, hunting or now also archery. In the beginning I always try to equip myself with self-built things, which sooner or later break or are simply useless.
This is how it went with bow targets. In the beginning, it was some old cardboard, which did not even stop the arrow. I filled the next boxes with newspaper and hoped for some more deceleration, which worked at first. But after two or three hits at the same place with approximately 65 pounds, the arrows flew through the cardboard and the vanes, as the plastic fletching of the arrows is called, also suffered immensely or tore off entirely. I thought some more about it. Then actually, followed my best self-built target. I put two packs of sawdust for small animals on top of each other. In between I put a somewhat thicker advertising brochure as a stopper and glued it together with parcel tape. The arrows were now stopped in such a way that they pierced into the second package but did not stick out of the target. The vanes lasted now and did not have to be glued on again all the time. But now after about 10 shots, I had sticky arrows and a sticky arrow rest. The reason for this was the tape, which was pierced by the arrows. A target like that did pretty well, though. With about 10€ per target it was also a cheap option for me in the beginning. But even in this case the targets I built were quickly destroyed and about every 10 days I had to make a new one. Personally, I found this annoying and at some point it became too expensive. I gradually realized why the right targets sometimes have quite high prices. My first proper target was the Longlife Little Cube, which is quite small at 18 X 18 cm, but I already got good groupings, which do not exceed this size. My shooting distances are always between 10m and 30m, so the arrows missed relatively rarely. In one case, however, it was more than annoying that the cube was so small. I ordered new arrows and I wanted to use them. Since these arrows were much heavier than the last ones, the impact holes were a bit deeper, which caused the arrows to get stuck in the ground under the target. Unfortunately, all of them had a broken tip because they hit a stone in the soil. This way my project came to an end very soon. There was no need to adapt the bow to the new arrows anymore…
I shot this cube for 6 weeks and it still stopped the arrows very well. The arrowheads went through the back but never so far that the vanes got damaged. The arrows buried themselves very tightly in the target but it has to stop the force of the arrow somehow after all, so that is no problem for me personally. The only disadvantage is that the cube rolls over after almost every shot. Another shot then leads to the first arrow being penetrated by the second one - Murphys Law, you know... - This is how I broke tons of arrows and now I only shoot individual arrows at the target. What I only noticed later is that it is very helpful that the "Little Cube" has such small markings of about 2 cm. Particularly in the beginning these markings ensure higher concentration, since I as a shooter only concentrate on the small white dot. Some time ago the Field Logic Black Hole was added. The arrows can be removed with two fingers, but the bows must not be too powerful, otherwise the arrows will go right through. If you rotate it so that you shoot on the side of the target though, the more forceful arrows will also get stopped. We will see how this target proves itself over a longer period of time. The Little Cube from Longlife has now come to an end after 8 weeks and intensive training with broadheads. As a result, I would say that it is a good cube overall, which can also withstand strong bows. The fact that it rolls away is a problem and also training with broadheads should be avoided. It is very easy to handle and can be taken everywhere.
Everyone has to know for themselves which target is the best ultimately. For me it is like this: If something is simple, I use it more often. Therefore, I like to use my Little Cube very much, as I can just put it over my shoulder and walk off. My self-made targets were very heavy sometimes or simply unwieldy, which is not really motivating.
With a bit of luck and a delivery from the USA it seems that there are some Rinehart Cubes available here again. I am now finally the proud owner of an 18-1 cube and have been shooting at it for a few days now. The arrows are stopped very effectively and the cube now no longer rolls over. The advantage is that I can now shoot several arrows in a row at the cube to judge the hits and my level of accuracy. To pull the arrows and avoid blisters and calluses on the fingers I would recommend an arrow puller for this cube. The arrows are very solidly in the target. If and how the cube will change in the future and how durable it is, we will see.
One of our basic needs is to eat. As omnivores, our food range is extremely diverse and there is probably little that has not been tried before.
Hunting has been a part of my life since I can remember. My father, who was a forester, slowly introduced me to hunting and quite often, we had game to eat. Now, many years later, as a forester and hunter, I prepare the meat I want to eat myself. For me, hunting is also part of this process. I try to avoid an alternative origin of the meat that ends up on my plate as much as possible.
Sometimes I wait for several days in the morning or in the evening hours for a suitable animal to run in front of me and when everything is safe and I can shoot confidently, I kill the animal. From this moment on the animal has become food. Now there is a lot of work to be done until the piece of game is portioned in the freezer. But the work is well worth it. Healthy and very tasty game meat is a very good substitute for pork or beef. It also does not need special treatment if everything has been done correctly during cutting and the maturing of the meat. The "typical" taste of game is therefore not present for me, because I am absolutely not a fan of that. Most of the time the taste of game comes from the fact that the meat has been matured the wrong way or that a certain animal was killed, which was not a good animal for the kitchen to begin with. Deer or boar during the mating season can have a very harsh taste for example.
Apart from the sourcing of meat, hunting is also a service task for me. As a forester, my main objective is to let the forest grow old in a healthy way, which begins in the first years of the young trees. Fresh buds and shoots of the trees are delicacies for roe deer, red deer and fallow deer. It is almost impossible to let the forest grow up without a fence to protect the trees from game - at least when too much pressure is exerted by the game. Therefore, it is my duty to keep the game population in a way that is compatible for the eco system, which simply means that a certain amount of game must be killed. However, this does not happen arbitrarily, but is controlled and worked out with the districts and also the nature protection agencies. The privilege of being able to choose exactly which animal will be on my table and having everything from shooting to preparation in my own hands is what hunting is all about for me. It seems surreal to me by now when I go shopping and someone puts minced meat at a discount price in his shopping cart. How well do you think the animal was during its preparation to become minced meat in the end?
Of course, the countless hours spent outside at the fresh air as well as the peace and tranquility of nature should not be overlooked. It makes me feel incredibly relaxed when I can sit outside in the evening or morning and observe nature. Even if, on 9 out of 10 days that I am outside, no prey is caught or simply nothing happens. Hunting is almost a way of life and a common theme for me.
Matching arrows for bowhunting – What you should be aware of
Basically, all game types that can be hunted with a rifle in accordance with animal and hunting laws can also be hunted with a bow. This includes red deer and wild boars as well as small animals and partly also big game. The most common way of bow hunting is from a raised hide. With a lot of experience and the right environment, stalking game is also possible with the bow. The most important utensils besides the hunting bow are the arrows.
They differ clearly from sports archery by their sharpness as well as the special blade shapes and consist of at least two cutting edges. Among the most important characteristics of high-quality hunting arrows are their integrity, i.e. they must not deform during impact, and the possibility of being resharpened. In our online shop you will find a wide range of broadheads with two or more blades as well as adhesive or screw attachment.
Bowfishing: The alternative to standard bowhunting on solid ground
But bowhunting cannot only be done on land - it is also possible to hunt fish. Bow fishing is particularly suitable for shallow waters such as shallow rivers, ponds or beaches. The shooter stands one to four meters away from the targeted prey and shoots the arrow - similar to a harpoon - directly into the water. A special rod is usually attached to the arrow in advance in order to pull the fish ashore comfortably. Arrows for bowhunting in water are either single-pointed or shaped like a trident with barbs. We can provide you with the right equipment for every hunting trip ranging from broadheads, camouflage clothing and rangefinders to night vision equipment or binoculars.
Hunting as a sport - Everything about bowhunting
While hunting used to be necessary to get access to food from animals, today it is mainly part of forestry and serves the preservation of species. Another change that came with modernity is the transition from bow and arrow to the rifle. But - in the sport of hunting, there has been a desire to return to traditional hunting methods for some years now, so bow and arrow are experiencing a renaissance currently. Join us on a journey through the sport of hunting from then to now and find out everything you need to know if you want to start bow hunting in this article.
One important note before we begin: In Germany, hunting with a bow is prohibited. In which countries this form of hunting is allowed and which alternatives you have in Germany, we will tell you below.
In the middle of nature: Bowhunting
Hunting is an ancient, traditional form of food sourcing, which was one of the most important sources of energy-rich food before the times of livestock farming. It is not without reason that humans are often referred to as "hunter-gatherers", and even today there are still indigenous tribes that obtain meat partly or even completely by hunting. In most parts of the world, the mere procurement of food has now become a hunting sport, which on the one hand is aimed at the conservation of species and nature, and on the other hand is a demanding leisure activity.
No matter if you hunt or not - everybody knows that the rifle is the most used tool. But what about the good old bow? The history of bow hunting is long and reaches an estimated 70,000 years into the past. Even back then, bows were made of wood, the string either of plant fibers or animal tendons, the arrowheads of worked stone, bone and eventually metal.
Even today, natural tribes still hunt the old-fashioned way, producing bows according to traditional methods, but they are now vastly outnumbered. In most cultures, modern materials, for example carbon, as well as the compound bow have revolutionized hunting sports to a large extent. Hunting strategies, on the other hand, are more often still oriented on their original form.
Bowhunting in Germany and all over the world
As mentioned in the beginning, hunting with bow and arrow as well as with the crossbow is prohibited in Germany. Nevertheless, many hunters wish for a return to original hunting methods and some archery enthusiasts also have interest in hunting. Due to the nature of bow and arrow, bowhunting differs considerably from hunting with rifles.
- Proximity: Since an arrow flies slower than a bullet, the shooter must get significantly closer to his prey to ensure a safe and precise shot. The distance ranges from 15 to 25 meters.
- Camouflage: Due to the necessary proximity to the animal, good camouflage and a lot of patience are required. When hunting you merge with your surroundings and have to wait until the animal is perfectly positioned.
- Concentration: You experience the situation much more intensively and have to concentrate enormously. A thoughtless movement, a tiny noise, and the animal is gone. Hunting with a bow requires constant training and good body control.
- Safety: You have to draw the bow before you shoot, which you usually do only when you are absolutely sure that you are about to shoot. The bow does not store energy and cannot be released accidentally. Also, the arrow does not fly as far as a bullet, which significantly reduces the background hazard, i.e. the risk of injuring an unintended target. This is particularly beneficial in urban areas.
- Nature knowledge: In order to be successful at hunting with bow and arrow, you need to be very familiar with nature. After all, you have to know where you can best wait for your prey. You collect your hunting arrow after shooting and use it again so that no ammunition is left in the environment.
- Silence: Bow hunters need silence and an undisturbed flora and fauna. Most of the time they are on their own and there is no pressure or competition. Battues are unusual with bow and arrow. This causes neither the animal nor you as the shooter any stress, which is of course positive for you as well as for nature, as the animals can act in their natural behavior and you can relax.
Bowhunting in the EU, the US and Africa
If you want to use your hunting bow for its intended use, you do not have to travel far. Germany´s neighboring countries France and Denmark allow bowhunting. Even Italy and Hungary are not too far away. For the European countries you will of course need a valid (bow) hunting license. Some hunting regions have special regulations that you need to be familiar with.
The USA is probably one of the most famous countries where hunting with bow and arrow is legal and popular. This huge country offers a unique variety of flora and fauna that has something to offer for everyone. If you are interested in a hunting trip in the USA, make sure to inform yourself about the legal regulations of the individual states.
If you want to visit the most traditional continent for bow hunting, Africa is the ideal place for you. Here, hunting is part of everyday life for many indigenous people and has a long and colorful history. Namibia and the South African savannahs are particularly remarkable.
The hunting sport alternative in Germany: 3D archery
It is not entirely "the real deal", but it comes closer to the experience of hunting than any other archery discipline. 3D archery brings archery from the shooting range and takes you on wide parcours in the middle of nature. Instead of shooting at flat targets, you shoot at three-dimensional (3D) targets, which often have the shape of an animal.
Just like hunting, the irregular terrain makes it difficult to estimate the distance. You have to aim through branches or from a high position, you move through fields and paths and can set your own pace. Compared to target shooting, 3D archery provides you with a lot of physical movement and is infinitely close to nature.
Thanks to its increasing popularity, there are now many parcours in Germany. Our Parcours-Finder will help you locate the most beautiful and interesting destinations in the DACH region.
Getting into the sport of hunting- how do you start?
Even though bowhunting is prohibited in Germany, you still have the opportunity to obtain a bowhunting license by attending certified courses.
The German Bowhunting Association (DBJV) is the official contact point for Germany and co-founder of the EBF (European Bowhunting Federation). You can take part in a class directly at the association or get trained at a cooperating hunting school near you. The classes are designed according to the guidelines of the DBJV and the EBF, which in turn follow the guidelines of the IBEP (International Bowhunting Education Program).
The bowhunting license confirms the following:
- Ability to consistently hit a beer-cap-sized surface at a distance of 25 meters with a hunting arrow
- Knowledge of hunting ethics
- Knowledge of hunting safety
- Knowledge of German and international hunting law
- Knowledge of basic bow hunting equipment (including handling compound bows, minimum arrow speed and weight)
Note that for hunting, whether with or without a bow, a valid hunting license is always required! You will also need this license when you apply for your bow hunting license. All in all, you must be able to prove that:
- you have passed the hunter exam (hunting license)
- you have completed a valid preparation course for bowhunting according to DBJV guidelines, which was not longer than 12 months ago
- you have a liability insurance for the use of a bow
- and, if you are a minor, the consent of your guardian.
If you meet all the requirements, you will take a written and a practical exam that will test your skills. If you pass, you will finally receive your bowhunting license.
What equipment do I need for bowhunting?
The hunting bow
Even if sport bows are not so different from hunting bows for the untrained eye, there are noticeable differences which make both types of bows ideal companions in their use. If you do not have any equipment at all, it is easiest to start with our RTH bow sets. RTH means "ready to hunt", and, as the name suggests, these are packages that provide you with everything you need to get started right away. You might also want to take a look at our accessory sets, as you will find all the essential little things that are easy to miss.
The compound bow is a popular bow for modern hunting. Even recurve bows and traditional longbows can be equipped with all kinds of useful features these days, but the compound bow offers decisive advantages in hunting that make it superior:
- easier handling
- requires less strength
- higher precision
- shoots further and faster
- lower weight
- technologically extremely advanced
The first two aspects in particular are very pleasant for beginners. But also experienced hunters appreciate the fact that it is easier to keep a compound bow drawn and ready to fire over a certain period of time.
Of course, this does not mean that other types of bows, such as the recurve or longbow, are unsuitable - quite the contrary! They served our ancestors as reliable partners in hunting for thousands of years and are more robust and much easier to maintain. A damaged string can easily be replaced on your recurve bow without much effort. With a compound bow, the whole process is much more complicated.
Whether you prefer a bow that requires less muscle power or one that is virtually maintenance-free is entirely up to you. Just keep in mind that for hunting, you have to meet certain requirements regarding the speed and power of your arrows. If you lack the muscle power to bring an arrow to at least 240 feet per second (equivalent to about 73 meters per second) with a recurve or even a longbow, then you should opt for the compound version.
The bow will be adjusted exactly to your height, your draw length and your strength. As you train, you will quickly notice that you not only become more accurate, but also stronger in the upper body. You can increase the draw weight accordingly. In the beginning we recommend between 20 and 25 pounds for an adult shooter.
Crossbows are also excellent for hunting in theory, but considerably fewer countries allow it than bows. The reason is that the crossbow, just like a rifle, stores energy by holding a bolt without the shooter's muscle power. The hunter can wait for hours with the string cocked and only needs to pull the trigger. This means that the crossbow is classified as a similar weapon to firearms. Some US states allow crossbow hunting.
The hunting arrow
A hunting arrow, particularly at the tip, is designed quite differently from an arrow for target shooting. This comes from the special requirements of the hunting sport. The modern arrow for hunting is made of light, robust carbon or slightly heavier aluminum and has fletchings as well as a nock. Which hunting arrow (length, diameter, weight, spine and so on) is the right one for you depends on the characteristics of your equipment and yourself.
The hunting tip
As mentioned above, the right hunting tip is a crucial factor. It is also called "broadhead". Usually a modern arrowhead for hunting is made of metal and has at least two edges. A weight of about 30 grams per tip is recommended. You should consider though what animal you are hunting, since not every tip is suitable for every prey. The arrow must be able to pierce the heart or lungs completely to guarantee a quick and merciful death of the animal.
The camouflage clothing
For hunting, camouflage clothing is extremely important to make you practically invisible in the surroundings of the forest or in the fields. Depending on the weather conditions you may have to dress warmly under it. Your clothes should not make rustling or crackling noises with every movement, so make sure that the materials are soft and quiet.
For rainy days, it is recommended to impregnate your clothes thoroughly. This step is important even for fabrics certified as waterproof. Remember to pack a replacement garment as well. If it is very warm and you do not want to completely wrap yourself in clothing, you can cover your face and arms with camouflage colors. You should always wear long trousers and sturdy, closed shoes to avoid the danger of ticks. Depending on where you practice your hunting sport, you should take poisonous snakes and insects into account.
Let us not beat around the bush - the list of essential items is very long! To give you an overview anyway, we will not bother with lengthy explanations, but provide you with a handy checklist for bow accessories, which also includes optional and situation-specific items. Are you ready? Well, you need:
- A quiver that is suitable for the sharp broadheads
- Bow bag
- Shooting glove or tab
- Nocking point
- Nock tool
- Hunting knife
- String wax
- Hunting sight
- Screwing aid for hunting tips
- Various hex keys
- Spare tips in a matching box
- Maybe an arrow rest, but you can also shoot over the shelf
- Replacement string and a bow stringer for recurve, hybrid and longbows
- Grinding device for re-sharpening the broadheads
- Binoculars, pliers, compass and a regional map
- Hunting license, bowhunting license and identification card or passport, waterproof packaging (always keep it safely stored on your body!)
- Food, drinks, paper tissues - for the sake of completeness
Make sure that everything is well packed or firmly attached to your hunting bow. You can also take emergency items such as ropes, disinfectant and bandages with you. You also need to be equipped for the transport and, if necessary, the processing of the killed animals.
Go now! Get out into nature and hunt
Want to get into archery? If you have equipped yourself with everything you need for hunting - from hunting bows, to arrows and hunting tips - then it is time to find an archery club for you! Whether you want to get a hunting license or have fun on the 3D parcours, you surely will find the perfect equipment to explore and master bowhunting with us.
We are here to help you with everything you need for archery - contact us if you have any questions and we will be happy to help!