Struggling to find my archery path...

CoHiCntry

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Looking for some help, thoughts, and just general conversation to help me decide if I want to pursue traditional archery or stick to compound bows.

I'm 46 years old now and have been privileged enough to have taken several animals over my lifetime with rifle, bow & muzzleloader. My hunting desires have evolved over the years. I'm much more interested in hunting locally where I can hunt right out of my house and also to spread that hunting out over as long a time period as possible (August-November). I love hunting mule deer late season in the rut with a rifle & don't see that changing. Antelope will be second choice doe tags for either archery or muzzleloader and draw a buck tag every few years for archery. Elk will be primarily OTC archery and draw a cow tag for the rifle season that takes a few points every few years. All of these hunts can be done right out of my house.

I've been archery hunting for maybe 15 years? I'm not a hard core archery guy as it's never caught my attention like it has some guys. I'm much more interested in the hunting than I am the weapon that's used. That being said I'll be archery hunting every year for elk for the foreseeable future as that's the season and time that works best into my plan to hunt every year from home as long as possible. Up until now I've been using a compound but have always been intrigued by the traditional bows and the perceived simplicity of them.

Here's my hang up and my concerns... since I'm not a hard core archery guy is trying to go traditional biting off more than I can chew? I've never been a long distance shooter since I don't practice as much as some guys, so I have a 50 yard limit. The units I'll be hunting have a success percentage of around 10-15% (really low). Is going traditional where my shot limit might be half that distance really a good idea in a unit where taking an elk will already be quite a feet?

I need to make a decision in the next month or so, so I have time to get geared up and practiced up by next season. I sold my compound bow and everything I had to go with it a few months ago as I had no archery hunts planned for 2020 and my bow and gear was getting dated and needed an upgrade anyway.

Since I'm in a purchasing mode, I need to make a decision and stick with it. I've wavered back and forth so many times it's crazy! Figured I'd ask here and get some opinions and hear others thoughts, and maybe bring to light something I haven't taken into consideration. Thanks...
 

bsnedeker

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I wouldn't do it. I'm in the same boat as you i think...I just like to hunt as much a possible, don't care if it's with a rifle or a bow and I certainly don't care about the type of bow so it doesn't make any sense to me to handicap myself even more with a trad bow.

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Zac

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Couple things here. You not being an archery fanatic is a problem. Most guys coming to trad already have extensive knowledge on tuning and arrow building. Also most of them have alot more time on their hands than the 9-5 guy. If you call up Black Widow and ask them this question. They will ask you if you are willing to shoot 5-6 days a week. Rob from Stickbow chronicles would ask if you are willing to let a critter walk at 40 yards. If you have those kinds of regrets your going to wish that you would have bought a compound. In the end I would ask the professionals, but your lackadaisical attitude on the matter is a no for me.
 

cravingame

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May 19, 2019
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I'm in a similar state of mind. What has me staying with the compound is the thought, that if I was going to get shot with a bow what kind of set-up would I rather die from. I always answer that with "a compound." Though I am changing my entire set-up this year...going with EFOC arrows and Single Bevel Broadheads. If you haven't already, checkout The Ashby Foundation. Lot's of info about getting better penitation out of your setup, which is always helpful on "tough as nails" Elk!
 

Rob5589

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There's nothing more beautiful than walking through the woods with a custom recurve from South, Widow, Blacktail, etc. Every year I say to myself "this year." But when I'm honest with myself, I just don't have the time it takes to get proficient enough to hunt with a trad bow. If you have the time and dedication, go for it. Maybe take a trip to Colorado and see Tom Clum to truly cement your fundamentals. Wish you luck. Maybe next year for me...
 

Jimbob

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To me, the weapon really sets the direction of the hunt. I choose to hunt with a bow when I want a different experience than a rifle would offer. I don't just choose archery because that's the season that's open.

On day one of my goat hunt this year I stalked to 150 yds (I think it was that) of a great billy. He was bedded and there was no way to get closer. With a rifle, bang, done, hunt over. Great experience but nothing like my hunt actually turned out because I was using a compound, not a rifle. If I was using a trad bow it would have been a different hunt as well.

So do you want the hunting experience a trad bow will give or are you happy with the experience a compound will give?
 

307

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Are you willing to practice more (much more)?

If not, then you have your answer.

Switching to trad is less effective in killing animals under most circumstances, requires much more practice, reduces your odds of killing an animal, and will do nothing to help you hunt more.
 

Beendare

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Do you want to kill animals...or just watch them from a distance? Grin

Trad isn't quite that bad....but it is a much shorter range weapon....and really needs more dedication.

I think the decision hinges on how many animals you have killed with a bow....and if success is important to you. It sounds like a compound is the way to go.

You can always pick up a cheap ILF recurve and dink around with it.
 

Arctic Hunter

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You will need to shoot every day. Or at least every other day. Which you might find out you want to anyway. You really can’t dabble in it and expect to see a lot of improvement. Improvement for me made it easier to keep doing it.

Several years ago, before trad was cool, I sold all my compounds and went full trad. I’ve owned several recurves and long bows. 6 widows (PSA is still my favorite bow out of all of them). I killed a lot of deer with a recurve. But if you don’t shoot a lot, it’s frustrating to be accurate (but it’s frustrating even if you shoot a lot). Shoulder injuries have put me back into wheel bows again the last couple years. I miss my trad bows. But it is what it is. I’ve gotten to the point now where it’s more about other things. You will learn a ton if you do go that route.

There is a huge pride factor in killing an animal with a recurve.
 

Felix40

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Traditional bows are more fun, especially when you are shooting well. For that to happen I would plan on shooting a few arrows at least 2-3 days a week. You are right about the simplicity though. The only thing you need to take for repairs is an extra string. You can walk through brush and bang the bow up without concern about the rest or sight.

If you are shooting elk every year inside 25 yards then you might as well get a recurve. Otherwise, you need to decide if you actually want to kill elk every year or not. For me....I dont want any unfilled tags at the end of the year. I pick which bow to take based on what the hunt will be.
 

Billy Goat

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Best advice I can offer is you likely won't keep shooting your first stick. If you think you will just pick one and keep shooting it I think you will be mistaken. Too many variables in the bows and you need to shoot for a while to decide what you like, ie grip, length, and weight. Not to mention you will need to start light to develop form, then build up to a hunting weight. ILF will help a lot here.


Also don't think that a stick is simple, biggest misnomer out there. Lots of little things, and if your form changes a little it chair everything.
 

hibernation

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I'd like to switch back someday as well, but for now, the deciding question is are you okay with passing up opportunities where a compound would've made the shot? If you have an elk broadside at 40 yards, but your recurve limit is 20, can you still go home happy or will you regret your decision every time you look at the empty freezer?
 

Billy Goat

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I had the buck I was chasing at 42 yards this year, would have been a slam dunk with my compound. He actually turned and started to come in, but wind shifted and he winded me at 35 yards.

Years ago I would have been pissed, fortunately I was able to enjoy the whole experience now. I think that's part of what it takes to hunt with a stick.
 

Block

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Nov 13, 2018
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There’s guys that want to kill the bigger animals and take advantage of whatever weapon they can use,.. and then there’s guys that would rather hunt with a bow becuz they can get better tags., Very few people that are “bow only” that take BIG animals consistently.. and almost none with a stick bow that are taking top tier animals.. so if you are that weirdo that wants to shoot smaller and less animals with a stick bow “just becuz”,,. Then go for it...
 
OP
CoHiCntry

CoHiCntry

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Thanks for all the replies! Although I'm still wavering a little bit, I think I know which way I should go... my heart says go with the stick bow but my brain say's don't be an idiot, stick with the compound!

It really comes down to two things... first, which several have mentioned is practicing enough. Although I'm not a 9-5 guy and do have enough time to practice several day's a week I have to be honest with myself knowing my track record with my current practice with the compound. I struggle to practice enough now the way it is! My time is spread pretty thin with my other hobbies skiing, backpacking, dirt bike trail riding, 14er climbing, etc etc. I stay really busy all the time!

The second is opportunity... like I mentioned the units I'll primarily be hunting are really low success units with smaller numbers of elk. The opportunities will no doubt be very limited. If I had an opportunity to kill an elk at 40-50 yards, in the end I'd rather do that then not get a shot because it was out of my effective range. If the area I was hunting was a large tract of private ground that was covered up in elk and the opportunities were plenty. I might have a different outlook.

So, I think I'll go ahead and buy a new compound and make sure I'm ready by the time September gets here. I've got a recurve I got awhile back that I might start tinkering with and see where it leads me. That way there's no pressure to make sure I practice enough over the summer to be ready to hunt for the first time with a stick bow come September.
 

North Idaho Stickbow

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I hunted with a compound maybe one year. It was too “gun-ish” for me with the sights, a trigger, etc. I always picked it up and thought “why wouldn’t I just use a rifle?”

When I got my first longbow, a light switched on. I thought “now I get it”. It’s addicting. Yes you need to put in time, but it’s tons of fun time. I love guns too. I still hunt muzzleloader regularly, and sometimes rifle, because I like hunting opportunity like you. Nothing makes me happier than hunting in September and December with the stickbow though.
 

Lprough

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Mar 13, 2020
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Here’s my 2 cents worth if it matters. I bowhunted with a compound for many years with great success. I could pick up my Hoyt after it collecting dust for 4 months and hit where I wanted to out to 60 yards. After a few years it got to the point where I wouldn’t pick up my bow until it was hunting season. I just didn’t enjoy it. I contemplated the stick bow game for 3 years before I purchased my first longbow from South. Once I got it the passion for hunting came back that I had been missing for many years. I look forward to shooting every day. Even if it’s just a couple arrows to check form.

Now, while hunting, I get to enjoy the whole process. And enjoy the encounters even when they don’t get within my effective range. And when they do get to that range, the harvest is so much sweeter/earned. I have sold every compound I own and have given 100% to the traditional game. Yes, my harvest stats have gone down. Yes, I have to be more selective. But when it all comes together, it’s a memory that will outlast any compound harvest for me.


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Shawn_Guinn

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Mar 18, 2018
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I’m a hard core archery fanatic maybe not as extreme as some but my addictive tendencies all circle around archery and archery elk. I gave the traditional path a whirl for a few years and my itch is getting stronger again. But it takes tremendous patience and discipline to be effective with traditional equipment. Always leaned towards my compound bow just for the fear of having a elk past 35 yards and not able to make it happen. The guys that are successful with trad gear are some of the most disciplined focused dudes I know, absolute nuts could also describe them.
 

DavePwns

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Dec 9, 2017
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If there was a trad bow season to get better odds at good tags, I'd be interested. But I don't see that ever happening.
 
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