Hunting with a bow and arrow is so completely different than hunting with a gun. First of all, the deer season starts in September (usually around the peak of fall songbird migration), when the weather is still beautiful and I can enjoy being outside. The season lasts until the end of December, so there's no pressure to shoot the first deer you see like there is during the 6 days of shotgun season. Another reason is that there are no other buck-crazy hunters out there with guns blasting away at practically anything brown and furry, so I never fear for my life or Mr. Johnson's while we're out bowhunting.
The nice thing about bowhunting is that you're all dressed in camouflage, so once you're where you need to be, you become part of the landscape (i.e., invisible to birds and wildlife). So I get to see cool things like this little doe snacking out in the hayfield and squinting into the late afternoon sunshine. Did you even know deer could squint? (me either until I took this picture)
I got the chance to see eye-to-eye with this little buck. He could see my hands moving as I took the picture, but he didn't know what I was, so no fear on his part.
And he crossed farther into the field maybe 10 yards from my treestand. This would have been an easy shot for me with a bow, but I prefer to let this little guy grow up. And that's a choice I can make as a bowhunter because I know there are bigger bucks (and does) out there that would provide a lot more meat for my freezer.
Bowhunting in the fall allows me to spend time outside on gorgeous days like this.
Bowhunting forces me to physically challenge myself and makes me so thankful that I have good health. It's not quite as easy as it used to me, but I can still haul my 50-year-old body 15 feet up that little ladder attached to the left tree to the treestand (right arrow is pointing to it).
And when I'm not watching for deer, I can watch Eastern Bluebirds, checking out evening roosting spots in natural cavities of a nearby dead tree (this is something I have never seen before!)
And because I'm in the tree at bird level, I can get a photo of a Ruby-Crowned Kinglet -- at his level -- for the nanosecond that he sat still before flitting out of my camera range just 10 feet in front of me.
And in addition to wildlife, I get to have a little fun with the cattle out here too--in the daytime..... .....and after dark. I enjoy cattle because they are so goofy and curious.
Bowhunting takes a huge amount of time, dedication and practice to be successful. I practice target shooting every day and concentrate on hitting the target inside a 3-inch circle. I feel it's my personal responsibility to not to take any shot where there's a chance I could injure, but not kill a deer. I actually bowhunted for 3 years before I shot my first deer 2 years ago. For me, shooting a deer is the hardest part of the bowhunting experience. While I'm happy that I'm able to provide food for us, I actually have to kill an animal myself in order to do this. So I'm always aware of my responsbility to the animal to try and make its death as quick as possible. (Reading Catherine Friend's book "The Compassionate Carnivore" made me even more mindful of this responsibility.)
So there you have it.....why I bowhunt. Not because I enjoy killing animals, but because I love nature and I get the chance to be a part of it for many enjoyable hours each year. We have an overabundance of deer in this area, so I know I'm not doing any harm to their population and we will have a freezer full of great tasting, organic, free-range venison that was harvested with skill, appreciation and respect.
And if you need anymore convincing, I enjoy bowhunting specifically for moments like this (shown in the video below) when I get to see and learn more about deer in their natural environment. These are things a person normally wouldn't have the chance to experience unless they're able to spend lots of hours out in the woods. "Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take, but by the moments that take your breath away."