Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

How Bow Hunting Works


Modern Bow Hunting

Modern bow hunting was popularized in the U.S. in the 1920s when Dr. Saxton Pope published a book called "Hunting with the Bow and Arrow". Dr. Pope and his colleague, Arthur Young, learned about bow hunting from a Yana tribesman named Ishi. Ishi was the last member of his California tribe, and he shared his vast wealth of knowledge about bow hunting with the two men. Centuries of Native American knowledge went into the making of the book, and the great American bow hunting tradition lived on [source: Maryland Department of Natural Resources].

In the 1950s, Fred Bear, Earl Hoyt and Ben Pearson developed affordable, high-quality bow hunting equipment for the masses. The three men filmed their hunts and created educational programs that furthered the popularity of bow hunting.

Modern bow hunting hasn't changed much from the original except for the equipment. Today, bow hunters can choose from a variety of bows, arrows and arrowheads. Types of bows include:

  • Traditional bow -- Also known as the longbow, it is the most basic of bow designs. The bow is straight until it is strung, then it curves.
  • Recurve bow -- This is more powerful than a straight bow and generally is not used with any type of mechanical devices.
  • Compound bow -- A series of cables and pulleys reduce the amount of force needed to pull the string back. This is the most popular bow today.

Arrow shafts can be made of wood, aluminum, fiberglass, carbon and a carbon/aluminum combination. Arrow heads or points come in various shapes and sizes and are chosen based on the archer's purpose. Bullet, judo, blunt and field points are all used for target practice and small game hunting. Bowfish points are used for bow fishing. Broad heads are used for small and large game hunting, and types include fixed blade, removable blade and expandable blade.

Want to give bow hunting a try? Read on to learn about classic strategies.


More to Explore