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Bowhunting? Hiking, Archery, Tree Climbing and More

Bowhunter in a Tree Stand
Roughly 20% of hunters in the USA are bowhunters, as of 2012. In 2012 there was between 3.5 million and 4 million registered hunters in the USA, meaning there was between 700,000 and 800,000 bowhunters. (Precise numbers fluctuate year to year, but are generally on the decline.)

Sadly I don't have statistics for what percentage of hunters in Canada are bowhunters, but the number might be reasonably similar. A statistic I was able to find was that 5% of Canadians in 2012 were hunters, so doing some math that means there is roughly 1.76 million hunters in Canada. However I found a different source that claimed there was 1.4 million registered hunters in Canada, and the same source said the numbers were declining. (Note - Not all hunters are registered, so it is difficult to get a precise measurement.) However lets assume that the total is approx. 1.5 million and that Canada is similar to the USA also has roughly 20% bowhunters, for a total of approx. 300,000 bowhunters in Canada. More or less.

That is a pretty big number when you consider Canada has only one ninth of the population the USA does. It is probably because Canada has a larger percentage of people who live in rural communities, has a lot more wilderness for Canadians to enjoy, where in contrast most of the wilderness in the USA is used for farming and a larger percentage of Americans live in towns and cities.

Even with archery being in vogue due to all the movies / TV shows / etc, that has really only seen a huge boost in recreational archery. New archers have not been lining up to apply for a hunting license. The vast majority of new archers just want to do recreational archery, and the scant few new archers who choose to get into bowhunting is quite small and has done little to replace what is essentially "a dying breed" when it comes to the archery world.

Two decades from now maybe we will see a more dramatic boost in the number of bowhunters, but don't expect to see a huge boost in bowhunting happening any time soon.

However if you are thinking of getting into bowhunting let me tell you about some of the physical benefits...

#1. Hiking to get to your chosen hunting location (whether it be a treestand, ground blind, etc) while carrying all of your gear. This process alone will burn a good chunk of calories. The hunter will hopefully have set up their tree stand on a previous visit, but if not they will have to carry that too and go through the process of setting it up. In the case of a ground blind they will need to carry and set that up too.

#2. Climb into your treestand or tree sling. You can see what a tree sling looks like below. Tree stands are used because deer have a habit of not looking up, which means they wander closer to the hunter who is patiently waiting for a good distance to shoot.

#3. Bowhunting requires a lot of practice shooting at different distances - for example most deer are taken at distances of 5 to 30 yards. In Ontario bowhunters have to use a minimum of 39.7 lbs of draw weight when bowhunting to ensure the wound is fatal. Many bowhunters use 45 lbs or more however, just to make sure they are getting extra accuracy. This means they are building up more strength during their practices.

#4. Carrying the dead deer back to your truck. Assuming you managed to get a buck or doe, you will still need to carry it back to civilization and have it butchered so you can eat it. Hunters use a variety of different ways to carry the deer. I personally like the traditional way, which is to tie the deer's legs to a long stick and have two hunters carry the stick on their shoulder. Some hunters simply drag the dead carcass, but it is arguably easier just to carry it.

#5. Deer venison has a number of nutritional benefits, as do moose and elk.

Compared to beef, venison has only 187 calories per 100 grams, whereas beef has 250 calories per 100 grams. Venison has less fat, more protein and more iron. Being a leaner meat it is automatically healthier for you to eat. Venison also is a good source of niacin, riboflavin and thiamin.

Rifle hunters have a risk of exposing themselves to lead poisoning from lead bullets, but bowhunters don't have that risk because you recover the steel arrowhead.

Note - I don't have any moral issues with people bowhunting, as long as they are doing legally and they are eating what they kill. From my perspective it is admirable for people to be acquiring their own food the traditional way instead of relying upon slaughterhouses for the food. Hunting is arguably more humane than cattle being slaughtered because at least the hunter is killing the deer quickly. The same cannot be said for industrial farming.

A huge theme in bowhunting is all about getting an ethical killshot. Bowhunters won't take a shot unless they know they can hit the lungs and/or heart of the deer they are shooting, this way they can be guaranteed the animal dies near instantly - thus ensuring it is ethical and humane.

If you are thinking of getting into bowhunting I recommend signing up for archery lessons so you can ensure every shot you do is on target.

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