Bowhunting lead to success in gun hunting.
Bowhunting is not something my family did when I grew up. In fact, I was the first bowhunter in a long line of gun hunters. I still gun hunt of course, especially ruffed grouse. But the way I hunt and the knowledge I have from bowhunting has ultimately made me a better gun hunter.
The season offers an advantage.
The first advantage to bowhunting is the actual season. I remember the first year I bow hunted in the October woods of Massachusetts. I saw things I had never seen before as a gun hunter. Bucks chasing does, deer with consistent patterns, and a whole mess of things that flooded me with knowledge.
When I finally made the jump to bowhunting deer, my success rates sky rocketed. I went from one deer per year to six deer in my second season! Call it a game of odds or a game of tactics. Whatever it was, adding five times the amount of hunt able days to my schedule did wonders. I quickly learned that gun seasons are not always the best time of year to hunt.
Bowhunting demands a level of discipline.
I also began to learn something else: patience.
Now don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of patient gun hunters in the world. I, however, was not one of them. A shotgun gave me a false sense of confidence. I would shoot too soon or get excited and become reactive. Bowhunting forced me to watch deer longer. That need for a closer target began to calm my nerves and help me make better decisions.
As the years went on, I found myself thinking that bowhunting was easier. And in some ways, it is. Yet the actual weapon is a greater challenge. This challenge breeds behavior that brings success rates up. We must learn certain lessons from the challenge that we can take back to gun hunting.
I picked up my shotgun again years later. I put three deer on the ground that year. Looking back at all my fumbles and failures, I realized that I needed bowhunting to teach me discipline. Once it did, gun hunting wasn’t so bad after all.
If you are anything like me and these stories sound like you, it may be time for you to become a bowhunter.
A.J. DeRosa founded Project Upland in 2014 as an excuse to go hunting more often (and it worked). A New England native, he grew up hunting and has spent over 30 years in pursuit of big and small game species across three continents. He started collecting guns on his 18th birthday and eventually found his passion for side-by-side shotguns, inspiring him to travel the world to meet the people and places from which they come. Looking to turn his passion into inspiration for others, AJ was first published in 2004 and went on to write his first book The Urban Deer Complex in 2014. He soon discovered a love for filmmaking, particularly the challenge of capturing ruffed grouse with a camera, which led to the award-winning Project Upland film series. AJ's love for all things wild has caused him to advocate on the federal and state levels to promote and expand conservation policy, habitat funding, and upland game bird awareness. He currently serves as the Strafford County New Hampshire Fish & Game Commissioner in order to give back to his community and to further the mission of the agency. When those hunting excuses are in play, you can find him wandering behind his Wirehaired Pointing Griffon in the mountains of New England and anywhere else the birds take them.