Rifle Hunting Vs. Bow Hunting: A Hunter’s Personal Perspective

While the weapon you choose to hunt with is mostly a personal preference, which is the best? There is a big debate in the hunting world about your weapon of choice and almost a division among hunters when hunting with a rifle or bow.

Each has its pros and cons, but is one better than the other?

Rifle Hunting Memories

I first started hunting with a rifle as a kid. Rifles are much easier to learn and require much less skill to be proficient enough to kill a deer than bows.

This is one of the biggest reasons that most people start hunting with rifles.

Not only are they easier to use, but they can kill an animal from a much farther distance. It takes a lot of practice and skill to get within bow range of a deer, but even the worst rifles can easily take down a buck from several hundred yards away.

Introducing the Bow

On the other hand, I also started bow hunting at a very young age. I wanted to get into archery hunting because the rest of my family loved it, and the archery deer season is considerably longer than any rifle season in my home state.

While a rifle tag usually afforded you 6 days of hunting, an archery tag gave me nearly 3 months of hunting. While it proved to be much tougher, the extra time to hunt more than made up for it, and I quickly fell in love with bow hunting.

In addition to having more time to hunt, I quickly realized that being so close to the animals while bow hunting was much more of an adrenaline rush for me. This, combined with the longer seasons, led me to hunt almost exclusively by bow for many years and never pick up the rifle again until I drew a hard-to-draw deer tag for a great unit.

I borrowed a custom rifle from a family member and killed my biggest deer. This hunt made me realize that I didn’t have to choose between the two and that I could happily hunt with a rifle and a bow every year.

I use a bow and a rifle to fill my hunting season with as many tags as possible. In some states, rifle tags are much easier to draw than archery tags; in others, they are the opposite.

Because I now hunt with both, I can use this to draw as many tags as possible and enjoy hunting as much as possible every season.

So, is one better than the other? I would argue that it all comes down to your preferences. While I love the intimate experiences and adrenaline-filled encounters with animals that bow hunting provides me, I love the reliability and higher success rates that rifle hunting brings.

Pros of Bow Hunting

  • Longer hunting seasons
  • Easier to get tags
  • Generally better season dates (ex: hunting the rut, etc.)
  • Fun to practice with
  • No loud noises to deal with

Pros of Rifle Hunting

  • Easier to use
  • There is less margin for error in shot placement
  • Greater range
  • Faster reloading and follow-up shots
  • There are much fewer moving parts and equipment to worry about

These are just a few advantages to each method of hunting, many of which I have seen firsthand myself. As you can probably see, hunting with each of these weapons will drastically change your hunting experience.

Do you want a surefire way of killing an animal once you find it? Then, taking a rifle might make a better choice. The real challenge only begins once you find an animal while bow hunting.

Or maybe you want to enjoy nature and some peace? Then, a bow might be better, as the loud shots from a rifle could be avoided.

While both hunting methods are extremely different, they are still hunting. The division we see in today’s hunters over their weapons shouldn’t carry much weight, as we are all hunters pursuing a common interest.

As hunters, we should respect each other’s choices, even if they differ from ours.

If you were to ask me, I would recommend hunting with both a bow and a rifle (where allowed). Using both weapons throughout my hunting season has afforded me much more time to get out and enjoy the woods and dramatically increased my success in the field.

Both hunting methods are so different that you enjoy both aspects throughout the season. Switching from one weapon to another can often be a good way to change up your tactics throughout the season to avoid getting too frustrated or burnt out.

By including both a bow and a rifle in your hunting strategy and season this year, you could potentially have more tags and success and enjoy much more time out in the field. Isn’t this the biggest reason that we hunt?

Enjoying Your Type of Hunt

Spending time in nature and enjoying the wilderness is one of the most important things that draws us to the hunt year after year, so does it matter what weapon we have in our hands while we do it?

Whatever you decide to hunt with, just don’t forget to enjoy the hunt to the fullest!

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