Bow Distance Debate: How Far is Too Far to Shoot?
(Jeff Phillips photo)
Recently, Michael Waddell, of Bone Collector TV show on Outdoor Channel, posted a viral video to their Facebook page on the bow shot debate of “How far is too far?” If you hop on the major bow hunting forums online, you will usually see this thread pulsating with activity. For some, it’s a general discussion of the ways they can increase their effective shot distance, but far too often its hunters bashing hunters on shooting too far. As Waddell put it so well, “the distance you shoot is based on your equipment and skill level.”
A great example is some of the hunts Waddell and fellow Bone Collector and world-class archer, Travis “T-Bone” Turner, have made on the Outdoor Channel show. In the video, Waddell points out a shot T-Bone made at 50-plus yards on a bedded doe, in which she never gets out of her bed.
Risky? Maybe. But the way he shoots, it was more ethical than many might think. It simply depends on the archer and their situation.
Growing up in western Pennsylvania, I hunted either public land or small private farms. I stacked up quite a few deer with my bow in my younger days. I can honestly say that the longest kill-shot I ever made was 25 yards. I know that seems crazy, but either I was not comfortable with a long shot or I was hunting areas that didn’t offer longer shots. Bedding and transition areas I hunted usually presented my longer shots of 20 yards or so.
Now, I have extended that range since then. But, my hunting strategy really has not changed. Most of my shooting encounters are inside of 30 yards. Do I practice and shoot further than that for deer season? Absolutely, but the way I like to hunt is up close and personal. That’s what drives me crazy each fall. The feeling of my heart pounding out of my chest when a buck is literally under my tree.
That said, there have been plenty of cases where I wish I could have shot further. Either limited by skill level or tight hunting areas, I know my limits. I love hearing about skilled hunters making longer, successful shots; it makes me jealous. I know that I can stretch it if needed, but I am content with staying within my range this whitetail season.
I may not be able to “Robin Hood” an arrow at 60 yards, but I can tell you that any buck within 40 yard this fall is in trouble.