There’s an awful lot of drama and intimidation in the air when it comes to gearing up to become a bowhunter. If your goal is to simply have fun and make meat, maybe you’re better off sticking to the basics in your bow setup and saving your energy (and budget) for time in the field. That was my mission as I went from “Build to Butcher” with HuntStand. I grabbed an inexpensive, RTH (Ready To Hunt) bowhunting package from Bear Archery, made a couple of easy upgrades, and I was ready to collect venison.
How Difficult Is Bowhunting?
“How difficult is it to hunt with a bow?” That’s typically the first question I get from prospective bowhunters. I’ve been bowhunting for nearly 20 years, and I spent a fair amount of time working in an archery pro shop. Thinking back on my experiences in the field and in the shop, I can’t answer that question without asking a prerequisite question of my own: “Why do you want to bowhunt?” It seems most people want to get into bowhunting simply to put meat in the freezer, and that’s a great reason!
If you’re not hoping to become a competitive shooter or bow ninja, getting started with bowhunting can be easy.
“How much will it cost to start bowhunting?” That’s almost always the next question as someone prepares to start their bowhunting journey. And thankfully, these days, the investment level to break the ice into bowhunting is quite reasonable.
What Kind of Bow Do You Need to Start Bowhunting?
Many people who are new to bowhunting don’t know where to start when they first step into an archery shop or begin researching gear online. It can be confusing and overwhelming. This is where it becomes a no-brainer to recommend a brand such as Bear Archery.
Bear Archery offers a wide range of compound bows and bow packages for every bowhunter. Regardless of experience level, you can walk out the door with a full setup that suits your budget–and have confidence that it will deliver more than enough performance to make consistent, ethical shots on animals if you do your part.
A premium bow setup like the Execute 32 will run more than a thousand dollars when fully accessorized. Or there’s the option to pick up a fully-rigged RTH bow package such as the Species EV for less than $500. RTH stands for “Ready To Hunt,” and these packages require minimal setup time from you or your local archery shop.
Premium Bow vs. Ready-to-Hunt Package
Beginner bowhunters need to consider budget, abilities, and limitations before swiping a card at the register. Most good bow shops will help steer you in the right direction when making a decision between one of the premium bow setups versus a ready-to-hunt package.
In my past life as an archery shop manager, I always managed to ask clients how serious they wanted to get with their new bowhunting pursuit. This would help guide the rest of the shopping experience.
Naturally, skepticism often arises when it comes to the quality of a low-cost bowhunting package. But if you consider the advances in archery technology and manufacturing capabilities during the past two decades, it’s easy to accept the fact that budget-priced bow packages can pack a serious punch.
Even as an advanced bowhunter, I’m highly impressed by the value of the RTH packages from Bear Archery.
The Species EV features an ergonomic grip and a smooth draw cycle, making this bow easy to settle into when shooting. With IBO-rated speeds of 320 fps, an axle-to-axle measurement of 30 inches, draw length adjustments from 23.5 inches to 30.5 inches, and a draw weight range of 55-70 pounds, this bow is more than capable of knocking down just about any North American big game animal.
If you’re looking to stretch out your effective range for elk, spend weeks in a treestand for that one shot at a mature white-tailed buck, or maybe try to win some loot at a Total Archery Challenge, then you might want to look at premium bows.
Experienced and serious bowhunters typically go the route of premium bows because of their fine craftsmanship and precision tuning flexibility. Also, most premium bows will be faster, lighter, and quieter than entry-level bows. On the other hand, if all you need is a bow to make consistently lethal shots on big game animals at reasonable distances, then a RTH package will serve you well. You can get everything you need in a RTH package at a fraction of the price of a premium bow.
Keep in mind that regardless of your choice in a new bow, generally you get what you give. Spend enough time to properly tune the bow and maximize its performance.
I decided to take the Species EV for a test drive to show that getting into bowhunting doesn’t have to be as intimidating as it might seem. Plus, my freezer was running dangerously low on venison, as that’s what my family eats for the majority of the year.
When you first grab the Species EV, you’ll notice it comes equipped with a Trophy Ridge 3-pin sight, Whisker Biscuit V rest, 6-inch stabilizer, and a 5-arrow quiver. For the beginner, these are the basic necessities to get started in an effort to punch a tag. If you’d like, pending budget limitations, you can make some additional upgrades like I did with Trophy Ridge to gain some benefits in your bow setup.
Upgrade #1: I chose to go with a React Trio Pro 3-Pin sight to extend my shooting distances with help from the React Technology. Plus, I like the fine-tuning adjustability that a “slider” sight provides. My max. comfort zone when shooting a compound bow sits at a steady 45 yards. This upgrade allows me to achieve that and more.
Upgrade #2: Your arrow rest is important, as it’s one of the controlling variables of arrow flight. While the Whisker Biscuit V is a reliable and proven rest, I chose to go with its near cousin, the Whisker Biscuit VMAX, as I was able to gain micro-adjustability for windage and elevation. This allowed for a more precise tune of my bow.
Upgrade #3: The next upgrade was more of a personal preference. I encourage you to test the waters with multiple accessories while you’re at the archery shop. Most shops will let you see how a product looks and feels on a bow. This is especially important with stabilizers, as you have to take into consideration vibration dampening and stabilization benefits.
A long stabilizer doesn’t bode well for most of my hunting scenarios at home in Texas, as ground blinds are more common than elevated platforms or treestands. A stabilizer longer than 10 inches gets in the way, and that’s why I chose to install the Shock Stop 8-inch stabilizer; it’s a lightweight, carbon-fiber stabilizer that eliminates vibration.
Upgrade #4: Lastly, a quiver is the cherry on top. I chose to finish up this bow with the Trophy Ridge Hex Light Quiver–it’s a 5-arrow quiver that has lights inside and on top. It’s easy to forget a headlamp or flashlight, and this quiver solves that problem. The top light can be used to illuminate your path through the field during early mornings and late evenings. Once you get to your blind or stand, use the second light to illuminate the inside of the quiver and cast light on your bow, providing just enough visibility to nock an arrow in the dark.
After getting the Species EV set up and dialed out to 40 yards, I made a mad dash to the deer stand on an early October afternoon. Texas, corn feeder … I would have an opportunity to put an arrow through a deer in no time! Boy, was I wrong.
With a full moon, hot weather, and acorns scattered everywhere, I didn’t get an opportunity to draw back for weeks, and my venison supply continued to dwindle. I wasn’t going after a target buck or any deer in specific. I was merely on a meat mission, whether it was a shooter buck or mature doe that presented the first shot opportunity. As deer hunting goes, this proved to be more of a challenge than originally thought.
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It’s a common misconception that everyone in Texas hunts behind high fences, but I can assure you this isn’t the case–especially for my hunt on our family property. It’s a low-fenced property with a free-ranging deer herd, and when acorns are dropping they become the primary food source. Most would say to move near the active acorns, but in the Hill Country of Texas there are thousands of live oak trees, and in the case of our farm I’m liable to bump deer off the property by getting too aggressive.
My patience grew thin after countless sits, but an opportunity finally surfaced with a lone doe on an early November morning.
Our Texas deer gave me a run for my money, but I was finally able to place a finely tuned arrow paired with a SIK SK2 mechanical broadhead through the vitals of a doe at 38 yards. She made it just 60 yards before lying down and expiring.
Thanks to the robust blood trail from the SK2, the recovery was swift and my freezer would be restocked. All I could think about was bacon-wrapped backstraps on the smoker, venison pot roast, and all the spoils of this hard-earned deer.
Circling back to the original question that inspired this bowhunting quest: “How difficult is it to hunt with a bow?”
Truth is, it’s pretty easy and inexpensive to acquire bowhunting gear and start slinging arrows with enough accuracy to make meat. But even for a Texas guy targeting whitetails on corn feeders, the real challenge of bowhunting always boils down to honing woodsmanship and practicing patience–and those are skills that can’t be bought.
Bear Archery Species EV RTH Bowhunting Package
Trophy Ridge React Trio Pro Bow Sight
Trophy Ridge Whisker Biscuit VMAX Arrow Rest
Trophy Ridge Shock Stop 8-inch Stabilizer
Trophy Ridge Hex Light 5-Arrow Quiver
SIK SK2 Mechanical 100-grain Broadhead
LaCrosse Alphaburly Pro 18-inch Rubber Hunting Boots