For most hunters it’s a rush to be able to take down a trophy elk from a couple hundred yards with a rifle and a powerful scope.
But for others who appreciate a true, more natural form of hunting, archery offers a big challenge. The ability to sneak up on the target, get as close as 20 yards, and take down the same large beast with a silent projectile can be the ultimate challenge.
“You have to use the elements of concealment and surprise,” said Ron Oliver of Bear Archery, Guns and Metal Detectors between Glenwood Springs and Carbondale. “It’s a more primitive method of hunting.”
There is one main archery season that lasts from Aug. 26 to Sept. 24. Rifle hunting is split into four seasons beginning in
mid-October and ending in mid-November. Each season only lasting about a week in duration.
“One of the reasons (archery season) is more appealing, it doesn’t look so much like a pumpkin patch out there,” Oliver said referring to the mandatory fluorescent orange wore by rifle hunters.
“Fewer hunters, and being able to wear camouflage and not the bright orange lets you enjoy the prettier time of year too.”
For archers camouflage is necessary to help get close to the game.
Rifle hunting is more popular because a rifle is more “user friendly” than a bow.
Becoming proficient with a bow and arrow usually takes a lot more dedication, time and practice than using a rifle. As well as an added physical challenge and use of upper body strength.
“The younger kids are usually pretty strong already, but for some of my beginner students I start them on a exercise regiment to strengthen their upper-body,” Oliver said.
“Archery is more challenging, but it takes a lot of time,” said Bryan Rider of Timberline Sporting Goods in Rifle.
Even with the greater difficulty, some hunters are attracted to the sport of bow hunting right away. “It’s more common for archers to be rifle hunters as well, but some get right into archery not realizing how difficult it is,” Oliver said.
Bow hunting is all about practice.
“After a few months of the regiment, they are hitting consistently a three-inch circle from 20 yards,” Oliver said.
Difficulty is the challenging call to most who really enjoy the experience of the hunt. And that means getting close.
“We encourage bow hunters to get within 20 yards before taking a shot,” Oliver said. A longer range shot from a bow will be less effective and may just injure the animal.
To get close, archery hunters use extensive camouflage to remain unseen by their target. Cow calls and elk bugles replicate the sound that the animals make to attract the opposite sex.
“It’s quite an experience to be out in the wild with those big animals and have them react to your calls,” Oliver said.
A successful archery hunt also means keeping an eye on the scents.
Cover-scents are used to cover the natural aroma of the hunter. There are also attracting scents that replicate the scents produced by a cow elk to let the bull elk know that she is in season. “I don’t recommend using an attracting scent on your body,” Oliver said. “You may get an unpleasant visit from a bull.”
Oliver suggested that the attracting scent be sprayed on a bush or tree
instead. Then the hunter can set
up and wait for the animal to
come into view.
“Most bow hunters start practicing around two to three months before the season, two or three nights a week,” Oliver said. As the season gets closer some hunters will practice daily.
For hunters just getting into the sport it could cost up to $1500 for a good bow, which is to a hunting rifle. Beginners can find a good long bow for between $200 and $800. Quality compound bow prices will start at around $300. A good six-pack of arrows will cost between $20 and $40.
For information on licenses for big-game archery, visit the Division of Wildlife at http://www.wildlife.state.co.us/hunting/ or call 1-800-244-5613.
By John Gardner of the Glenwood Springs Post Independent.