Many areas in the greater Lake Tahoe and Sierra Nevada Mountain region allow for hunting, both small and big game hunting. By far, the most common is big game deer hunting. And like most types of big game hunting, the method of take, or the weapon of choice, may be a bow or a rifle. There are a few major differences with bow hunting vs rifle hunting. You should learn about each one before making a final decision about which one to take up first. Both styles have their devoted fans. There is a lifetime of nuance to learn when it comes to both types of hunting, but here are the major differences that even the inexperienced hunter can understand.
Intimacy and Difficulty
Arguably, the biggest difference is the range in the weapons. With enough rifle practice and the right weapon, you may be able to effectively shoot and kill a big game animal from 150 yards away with a rifle. With a bow, you’ll need to stalk your prey to within a distance of 10-50 yards. This fact alone makes bow hunting more difficult. It’s common to see a deer within easy rifle range that you’re never able to close enough to for bow and arrow. While this can be too frustrating for the inpatient rifle hunter, most bow hunters prefer having to overcome the animal’s natural instincts and heightened senses.
Bow and arrows tend to kill their targets in different ways than bullets. While bullets use brute force to pulverize tissue, the sharp tip of an arrow requires considerably less energy to be lethal. That’s because the arrow slices through major veins and arteries in a way that causes the animal to bleed out. The sharp edge of the arrow also gives the animal a much better chance of recovery when a lethal hit is not registered. Often, a bullet wound will create an infection that causes the animal a long and painful death. Nevertheless, by only shooting from a range in which you can confidently hit the chest cavity and thus registering a lethal blow, you can minimize the animal’s suffering with a rifle or bow and arrow.
Safety and Responsibility
While incidents are rare, there is some increased risk of personal safety when it comes to bow hunting. At least this is true when rifle and bow hunting season overlap. Bow hunting has an extended season in many locales, so if you eventually learn both styles of hunting, you’ll be able to pick and choose. But there’s also no way around the fact that when you need to get within 10-50 yards of the prey and you have rifle hunters in the area, it’s impossible to completely eliminate the risk. On the flip side, while arrows can be deadly to humans, as a rife hunter, you must stay extremely diligent about best safety practices.