Bow hunting large animals - is it ethical?

Ado

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Hi All,

Firstly let me clarify - I hunt with rifles so yes I am curious about where the ethical line on bow hunting is.

So my question: Is it ethical to use a bow on large animals?

We have just seen the Cecil lion saga in ZIM and how in the end it took a rifle to kill the lion. Should they have just used a rifle to begin with?

Can you ever get a clean kill on a lion, buffalo, eland, giraffe etc with a bow?

I admit I am fairly unknowledgable - but surely there must be a limit to the ethical killing of animals and the power limit of a bow?

Ado
 

Ryno Botma

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Hi ado

If you think on where hunting started with spears and bow and arrow taking up to mammoth so it is possible to kill with primative weapons

The key on taking an animal down is shot placement and having the correct setup for the animal you are hunting

I have hunted plenty animals with bow and rifle a bad shot with a rifle is still a bad shot and I have lost wounded animals that was shot with rifle and bow it all comes down to shot placement

I have hunted Buffalo with bow that went down with one arrow and had Buffalo take 6 shots with rifle before going down

So on the ethical side I don't find it unethical
Hunting large game with the correct setup on a bow

Keep well
 

bluey

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agreed ryno
if you want to learn discipline ado , buy a bow .......
you'll work harder , and respect our samba deer ,ten fold ,mate .......
ive actually never wounded and lost an animal with my bow, but ive wounded and lost 4 animals with the riffle ........
as for big game , no worries mate , just need to use your noggin ,abit..........
 

dobber

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shot placement and knowing the limitations of yourself and your choice of weapon

a bad shot is a bad shot doesn't matter what you use
 

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Not much to add from the 3 previous posts... Spot on commentary...!

Proper bow/arrow set up that is matched for the job is just as effectively lethal as any rifle shot. I would emphasize that the ethics part is mostly on the hunter and not he equipment. Every hunter has a responsibility to be intimately familiar, comfortable, and practiced with his equipment be it gun or bow.
 

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As a side note I think our much discussed "Cecil" was shot with a crossbow from some of the reports I read- so much misinformation out there so don't know if that is true or not. I have a growing interest in bows and crossbows so I try to read all I can. If the crossbow reference is true I think most crossbows these days have some pretty whopping kinetic energy but if not put in the right place it can be a problem. If true I'm not sure if crossbows are even legal in Zimbabwe..
 

Hank2211

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I wouldn't want to cast the bow/rifle debate as an ethical one. As pointed out, it really isn't, and needlessly divides hunters, as well as getting people's backs up.

The real issue is the same for both bow hunters and rifle hunters. Know your limits, and respect them. Some of the limits are skill related, but some may be external - equipment related. I have no doubt that an arrow in the right place can kill an elephant, as can a shot from a .270 (at least if we're not Karamojo Bell) but we don't use a .270 to hunt elephant, so personally, I don't think we should use a bow either.
 

firehuntfish

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Hank2211,

Your point of not using a .270 to hunt elephant is well taken but, is it safe to assume that you are not a bow hunter or have not been a part of any big game archery hunts? I would agree that trying to hunt a Big 5 game animal with archery equipment intended for plainsgame would be both inadequate and unethical for the job. That's why it's also illegal.... However, archery hunting a Big 5 game animal with a 90lb.+ bow, with a 1000grn+ arrow with a massive cut-on contact broadhead is the rifle equivalent of a .700 Nitro.

The only certain difference I have witnessed is the danger factor involved. With a bow, you commonly need to be much closer for ethical shot placement. Also, you undeniably don't have the knockdown capability of a firearm, so the possibility of a charge is much greater than with a rifle.
 

Hank2211

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Hank2211,

Your point of not using a .270 to hunt elephant is well taken but, is it safe to assume that you are not a bow hunter or have not been a part of any big game archery hunts? I would agree that trying to hunt a Big 5 game animal with archery equipment intended for plainsgame would be a inadequate and unethical for the job. That's why it's also illegal.... However, archery hunting a Big 5 game animal with a 90lb.+ bow, with a 1000grn+ arrow with a massive cut-on contact broadhead is the rifle equivalent of a .700 Nitro.

The only certain difference I have witnessed is the danger factor involved. With a bow, you commonly need to be much closer for ethical shot placement. Also, you undeniably don't have the knockdown capability of a firearm, so the possibility of a charge is much greater than with a rifle.
You're right, I'm not a bow hunter, and I should have made that clear. As a result, I was coming at the question as one of self-imposed limits rather than ethics. There are bow hunters who can reasonably take an elephant with the right bow, but - and this is just my perception, it would be a small minority ( same as with a small calibre rifle).
 

firehuntfish

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There are bow hunters who can reasonably take an elephant with the right bow, but - and this is just my perception, it would be a small minority ( same as with a small calibre rifle).

Absolutely agreed! Bow hunting the Big 5, the Dangerous 7, or Polar/Grizzly bear for that matter is not a pursuit for beginners, and I don't recommend it. In fact, no reputable or respected outfitter/PH that I am aware of would entertain a dangerous game bow hunt with an new client or at least one that they do not feel confident and capable in their experience and abilities.
 

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i have no problem flinging arrows from my set up at moose, deer and bears within my comfortable ranges for each, and they each have their own range boundaries, going after the big 5, not for me with archery at my skill level and my set up, if i ever got the thought to do it, then you can bet i will be spending some money and time at the range
When shooting a moose at 20 yards, they sometimes don't even realize they are dead, which is why when i brought new moose hunters along, always told them to grab another arrow and let it fly if you can.
Works like a paper cut on your finger, don't realize it happened till you see the blood, yet a bullet works like a hammer hitting the same finger
For the most part crossbows have the same limitations with distance (unless you believe the inter web anti crossbow stuff) it just has less movement needed like a gun
 

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You are comparing apples to oranges ....both have there limits ...however shot placement is the key to success no matter what the game ! Good luck and play safe with what ever equipment you choose .
Glen
 

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Is it ethical? Surely can be, but it depends on the hunter/PH combination (probably the most important aspect).

Given the proper combo, there will be the proper equipment, skills, shooting ability, and dedication to getting it right the first time.

I've never hunted the big dangerous stuff. Why? Because as a geezer my equipment is not sufficient, and my skills (the ability to crawl and sneak) have diminished to the point that it's not reasonable to do so.

I was personally opposed to bowhunting in my earlier years because I had read all the horror stories of endless blood trails and un-found game. Finally by brother-in-law convinced me to give a try on Whitetails. I was absolutely blown away at the lethality of a well placed broadhead. Critters falling within sight or blood trails of under 100 yards.

I don't wish to brag, but simply point out that I've had deer fall, feet up, in three bounds, Kudu go less than 150 yards, Waterbuck that walked in a circle and fell dead, Zebra stallion the ran in a short half circle of no more than 150 yard and rolled over dead. Too many other examples too numerous to mention. Does it always happen that way? Of course not. I've made a less than perfect shot on a Gemsbok that made 800 yards before I could get the second shot into him. I also made a shot on a Black Wildebeest that was too far back and had to be taken with a rifle.

I, and others of my acquaintance, have maid similar less than perfect shots with rifles.

As best I can tell, the other herd animals will spook at a bow shot. But this mostly depends on the critter that you shot. It's not uncommon that the critter shot will not spook violently and may walk around until it drops. If that's the case, the heard does not spook. I can only assume that this is due to the lack of a super sonic bullet passing close by with the attending sound shock waves.

On a number of occasions I've taken African game (herd types) that were no more than 50 yards out that continued to stand around even after we had lit a smoke to celebrate the one laying dead in sight.

A well placed broadhead can be quick and efficient. No shock value unless you've hit the central nervous system. Quick, quiet, and deadly if you get it right.

Give it a try, you may be surprised, as was I.

Best of luck to you.
 

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I wouldn't want to cast the bow/rifle debate as an ethical one. As pointed out, it really isn't, and needlessly divides hunters, as well as getting people's backs up.

The real issue is the same for both bow hunters and rifle hunters. Know your limits, and respect them. Some of the limits are skill related, but some may be external - equipment related. I have no doubt that an arrow in the right place can kill an elephant, as can a shot from a .270 (at least if we're not Karamojo Bell) but we don't use a .270 to hunt elephant, so personally, I don't think we should use a bow either.

I agree - and it goes to the heart of the question - just as we don't use a 270 on buffalo, should we also not use a bow on buffalo?

Ado
 

Ado

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Is it ethical? Surely can be, but it depends on the hunter/PH combination (probably the most important aspect).

Given the proper combo, there will be the proper equipment, skills, shooting ability, and dedication to getting it right the first time.

I've never hunted the big dangerous stuff. Why? Because as a geezer my equipment is not sufficient, and my skills (the ability to crawl and sneak) have diminished to the point that it's not reasonable to do so.

I was personally opposed to bowhunting in my earlier years because I had read all the horror stories of endless blood trails and un-found game. Finally by brother-in-law convinced me to give a try on Whitetails. I was absolutely blown away at the lethality of a well placed broadhead. Critters falling within sight or blood trails of under 100 yards.

I don't wish to brag, but simply point out that I've had deer fall, feet up, in three bounds, Kudu go less than 150 yards, Waterbuck that walked in a circle and fell dead, Zebra stallion the ran in a short half circle of no more than 150 yard and rolled over dead. Too many other examples too numerous to mention. Does it always happen that way? Of course not. I've made a less than perfect shot on a Gemsbok that made 800 yards before I could get the second shot into him. I also made a shot on a Black Wildebeest that was too far back and had to be taken with a rifle.

I, and others of my acquaintance, have maid similar less than perfect shots with rifles.

As best I can tell, the other herd animals will spook at a bow shot. But this mostly depends on the critter that you shot. It's not uncommon that the critter shot will not spook violently and may walk around until it drops. If that's the case, the heard does not spook. I can only assume that this is due to the lack of a super sonic bullet passing close by with the attending sound shock waves.

On a number of occasions I've taken African game (herd types) that were no more than 50 yards out that continued to stand around even after we had lit a smoke to celebrate the one laying dead in sight.

A well placed broadhead can be quick and efficient. No shock value unless you've hit the central nervous system. Quick, quiet, and deadly if you get it right.

Give it a try, you may be surprised, as was I.

Best of luck to you.

Thanks - you make some good points.

I guess there is a vast amount of difference between a kudu and a buffalo, and then to an ele...

As a rifle shooter we have limits in cal Vs animal.

Can a an ele really be taken with a bow? I assume you could not brain and ele due to poor penetration?

Ado
 

Biddleman

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I'll let the PHs respond to archery hunting game in Africa. However I will say that when it comes to hunting in the States, the bow hunters I know or speak with, practice and practice and practice. and know their limitations and equipment.
So there's that.
 

kal

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I think the primary problem people have when questioning the lethality of archery equipment is experience to old equipment. Every year the archery industry makes technological advances. Bows now harness more energy than ever thought possible, arrows are more durable and broadheads are higher in quality. My white tail setup easily sailed arrows completely through all the plains game and a lioness on my trip. All animals expired in sight of inpacet, arrows were buried into brush on the other side of where the animal was. That's just a "light" setup, so a 90lb bow with 1000 grain arrows can carry some incredible energy. Unfortunately the equipment can't shoot itself, and this is where the problem exists. Most bow hunters are a dedicated, professional bunch. As just with gun hunters there exists a faction of sloppy people who lie to themselfs about there skill level.
 

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I agree - and it goes to the heart of the question - just as we don't use a 270 on buffalo, should we also not use a bow on buffalo?

Ado,

Just as you recognize the different capabilities of the various rifle calibers, you must realize the same goes for archery equipment. All bows/arrows/broadheads are not the same and different set-ups are capable performing different jobs for different game animals.

From your above comment I believe that you are assuming all bows are the equivalent of a .270 caliber rifle or less...? That's absolutely not the case...

Are brain shots an option on an elephant with archery gear? No... However, an 1,100 grn arrow/broadhead from the proper set up, placed just behind the crease of the front leg will bury up to the fletching and easily take out the heart and usually both lungs. It's a very ethical shot and the same goes for hippos, cape buffalo, etc..
 

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Can a an ele really be taken with a bow? I assume you could not brain and ele due to poor penetration?

Ado

Heart shots and also complete pass throughs have been accomplished.
 

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I must say I do like the manner in which this post has been carried out ...... opinions matter and no bashing of each other ....COOL !
Glen
 

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