I was beginning to feel uncomfortable, and that the guys were thinking I was a poor representative of the female hunter.
I was on a spring bear hunt in Alberta, Canada, with Northern Wilderness Outfitters. A bunch of us were getting ready to shoot our bows, to check sights after our flights, and attention was focused on my set-up: a new Mathews Outback bow set at 52 pounds, Carbon Impact arrows with 2-inch plastic fletching, tipped with 75-grain Muzzy broadheads.
Somebody said, “Hey, did those arrows come with a Barbie set?”
Well, that was a bit much. It was time to defend myself.
“My bow, set at 52 pounds, is faster than the bows you guys shot 10 or 20 years ago, set at 70 pounds,” I said. “My set up gets me better than 200 feet per second. There’s no need anymore to shoot a heavy draw weight, with arrows that look like stove pipes.”
Two days later, during the same hour on a stand, I arrowed two bears that didn’t make it 40 yards. Both arrows passed through the bears, each estimated at around 250 pounds. One arrow passed through a bear and drove into the ground and stuck in a root. Suddenly, there were some believers in the bunch.
Lightweight Setup Is Deadly
America’s hunters are aging. Sadly, the same ones who discovered a love for archery during its boom in the 70s and 80s now say they can’t do the sport anymore because of neck, shoulder, and back problems.
But that’s only true if you stay with the heavy draw weights. If you really love hunting with a bow, pick up any one of the new models and shoot it set at 50 pounds. If you haven’t shot a bow for a while, the new technology will amaze you.
“If you want a workout, go to the gym; if you want to build muscles, lift weights,” says Dave Andrews, Andrews Archery, Frackville, Pa. “If you want to shoot a bow, find a weight where you can be relaxed, and you’ll be steadier and shoot better.”
I’ve made wind chimes from my old aluminum arrows, which were 2213s. The long-held belief that archery hunters need heavy arrows and daunting draw weights to propel them has fallen by the wayside.
New Gear Aids Older Bowhunters
Today, studies show that it’s speed and kinetic energy that equal good penetration and clean kills. I regret that I resisted carbon arrows for as long as I did — they are light, fast, and stay straight. They are virtually indestructible.
Older hunters, facing arthritis and other body changes, have another advantage to gain when they return to archery: a warmer season. Temperatures in October are typically balmy compared to those post-Thanksgiving firearm deer openers, and the usual accompaniment of sub-freezing temperatures.
Those hunters with gimpy shoulders and backs, who thought their days of hunting whitetails with a bow and arrow were over, should get to a bow shop and ask to try a bow set at 50 pounds. Be prepared to be happily surprised, because shop owners don’t need to sell bows anymore — they sell themselves with the first shot.
Discover a fine selection of archery gear, including compound bows at Sportsman’s Guide.