An unsuccessful end at that.
Earlier this season I pulled an old crossbow out of storage and got it up to speed, so to speak. The impetus was an invitation to hunt a Stonewall County ranch, but only with something using a string and arrows. I didn’t want to go the traditional or vertical bow route, so I got out an old Horton crossbow that has been sitting around for years.
OK, I get it. There is a difference between a crossbow and vertical bow to the purist, but honestly I don’t care. It was fun dialing it in, and with only weeks to get ready I didn’t have the time to ready a traditional bow or the money to spend on one.
So I took a shortcut.
The lessons came quickly. Although a crossbow is easier to master, it really doesn’t come cheaper. I think I had about $16 invested in each bolt (the crossbow term for an arrow) and broad head. That is a about a $7 discount over the typical arrow and point price, but a might higher than the $2 or $3 cost of a rifle shell.
Then there are all the extras like a case, tools, target, string, scope and even a tripod. I am pretty sure the re-investment came to about as much or more as the original cost of the bow.
And in the end I shot a practice target, multiple time, and into the Hill Country rocks twice. A friend said I was mastering the art of Air Archery.
Part of the problem was that when opportunity arrived, the preparation wasn’t there. In other words, when I had my best chance at getting a shot at a deer, I really wasn’t ready. It was the first hunt and to be honest the bow wasn’t exactly a fined tuned machine. Nor was I.
On the second go-round the preparation was what it needed to be, but the opportunity never occurred. They call that hunting.
It was a good hunting story, even without a happy ending.
I have grown as a crossbow hunter during my freshman year of archery (we can call crossbows archery equipment can’t we?) hunting. I have learned that even though my bow is turned sideways from a real bow, I am impacted by the same restrictions, the most important of which is distance. Easier to shoot, but incapable of shooting effectively at distances any greater than a compound bow, crossbow hunters are also prone to seeing a lot more game than they realistically are able to shoot.
I also learned that crossbow hunting is not a silent sport. Not as loud as a rifle, crossbows still make a pretty good twang when the trigger goes off. And even with an arrow traveling 300-feet or so per second, that sound at the slightest difference gives the four-legged target time to move.
After telling a friend of my exploits, he told me he once guided a hunter who took a blackbuck, but by the time the arrow hit the target 22 yards away it had turned 180 degrees and he shot it in the opposite shoulder than he had originally aimed.
I often accuse bow hunters of not shooting more because they are too cheap to pay the processing fee, but the truth is it is hard to sling an arrow.
I have also learned there is something to be said for sitting unable to move in a tree stand a short 45 feet away from a white-tailed deer or any other game animal. Sitting so close you can hear them crunching corn, but knowing you aren’t going to take a shot allows you to watch the interaction of the animals you wouldn’t normally get.
More importantly I found I was much more relaxed than when hunting with a gun, possibly because the expectations aren’t as great.
So it is not bowhunting to most. It works for me. I shall return.
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