Bow hunting large animals - is it ethical?

Nic7-300wsm

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It was really interesting to read all the comments and see the difference in opinions. I hunt with rifle and bow and both kill as long as the shot is in the correct place. I have never seen any animal shot through the heart and or lungs that did not die, if the animals doesn't die, you did not hit the vitals. Consider this, if both the rifle (adequate cal for animal) and bow (equally adequate for same size animal) hit the vitals completely broadside and in the magic triangle, the bow cuts a 1.5" plus hole through the vitals while the rifle (typical 30-06) will if the bullet fully mushrooms only be 0.6" hole. Most of the time the animal hit with the bow will go done sooner (shorter distance). However as mentioned before there are different mechanics at work in the killing power of each. The bow shot animal is normally not aware of the presence of the hunter and there are less noise. The bullet shot animal runs because of the boom and has more adrenaline in the blood and thus run further. Same happens when animals are shot over long distances (over 500m), some have at the shot jumped, but then carried on walking or feeding until they just fall over dead (due to oxygen shortage to the brain).

Can you take big animals with a bow? Yes you can. If you are able to handle the poundage of the bow required to shoot that animal. We have hunted giraffe with a bow and believe me that is more demanding than a buffalo. It has a fairly thick skin, huge ribs (thicker and stronger than buffalo and hippo) and plenty of muscle. We hunted with a 80lb bow at 30" draw, capable of shooting a 780gr arrow at 253 fps, this generates 111 ft.lb kinetic energy, tipped with cut-on-impact 2 blade 1.5" diameter broadhead. This will pretty much penetrate any animal except the pachyderms (rhino, elephant, hippo). My hunting partner shot a mature giraffe bull at 50 yards, completely broad side. The arrow cleanly went through the near side rib (not breaking the rib, but cut through), penetrated the heart and logged the broad head halfway through the opposite side rib. For elephant, a 90lb bow with 1,000gr arrows at 220 fps will give the same amount of energy, but 20% increase in momentum, thus penetration.

if you use the correct equipment and can handle it, and place the bullet/arrow in the correct place, you can ethically hunt any animal.

PS: no arrow is designed to penetrate any bone other than ribs. DONT try head shot or shooting through the shoulder bone, it doesn't work!!!
 

Stocky

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I get complete penetration on broadside buffalo with the proper equipment, how often do you see that with a rifle?
 

Ado

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I get complete penetration on broadside buffalo with the proper equipment, how often do you see that with a rifle?

Surely a 300gr from a 375 will kill a buff far quicker than an arrow?

Ado
 

bluey

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a 375 in through the ribs pulverising the heart , or a 2 inch wide cut through the ribs and slicing the top off the heart , either way ,they are both good deaths ......
although both of these hunt sceniaros are fitting ends to a bueatiful bull buffalo .
one takes a lot more planning ,stalking , and executing , either are dangerous and exciting , but the archery hunt is a different excitement ,altogether
 

Stocky

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Surely a 300gr from a 375 will kill a buff far quicker than an arrow?

Ado

I've taken two big bulls with broadside heart shots, one with a .375 H&H / 300 Barnes, the other with an 800 grain arrow sporting an Alaskan Bowhunting 200 grain broadhead. The .375 bull ran about twice as far (100 yards) before expiring and would have likely run even farther had I not put another raking shot in him as he was running away, which dropped him. While two animals doesn't achieve statistical significance, those are the facts.

The 300 Barnes was found lodged in the off shoulder, the 200 gr Maasai broadhead made complete penetration out the off shoulder. In other words, with nearly identical shot placement, the broadhead penetrated farther than a 300 Barnes. (I have the photos / videos if anyone would like to see them.) Winner: 200 gr Maasai broadhead

An animal like a buffalo doesn't succumb to hydraulic shock, velocity or anything else - it succumbs to loss of blood or other interference with vital functions. How long it lives depends more on shot placement, projectile performance (vital damage) and the mood of the animal at the time. If you place the first shot badly with anything up to and including a 600 Nitro and get the adrenaline flowing, Katey bar the door. You can give him 10 more and he'll keep going until one of you are dead, as I'm sure many professionals on this site will attest.
 
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Stocky

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G Skinner

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Could use one of them if I get to Florida for Gator or Texas for Aligator Gar ....does anyone know if these would be considered a firearm .... will look into the legality of bringing one back across the boarder into Canada .
Glen
 

Stocky

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As far as I know they are not considered a firearm. You can walk into any store and walk right out with one down here in Florida.
 

Petrus Geldenhuys

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As a bow and rifle hunter i don't think there is a difference in clean kills. they both go down quickly when the bullet or arrow is placed in the correct spot. With the correct bow setup hunting large animals can be very rewarding and its as ethical as it gets.
 

Synergy

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With a good setup you can kill a big animal with a bow as fast as using a rifle (sometimes faster ;) )
 

enysse

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I agree with Synergy, because there is no noise and that animal doesn't even know what happen.
 

rookhawk

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Here is what I know about from my circle of friends and acquaintances that hunt Africa with bow.

1.) Of the dangerous game they've hunted, I think only 1 of the animals amongst about 10 were KILLED by the bow. Shooting a bow and then finishing with a PH's rifle seems to be very commonplace. Running out of arrows after numerous follow ups also seems commonplace. Allowing pursuits to go on too long with follow up arrows because clients don't want to lose the ability to put it in the record book appears to be common.

2.) One friend is really, really screwed up from bow hunting in Africa with high poundage equipment. He is a giant of a man that works out a TON. He had a 105lb draw bow and he messed up his carotid artery holding the draw back for a long time on stalks in Africa. Now he passes out if he gets any pressure on one side of his neck from it.

In conclusion, I have no definitive ethical conclusion. I'm sure it can be done ethically and often is. I'm sure animals get poked and go down just like a perfect shot on an American Whitetail. I also know that on dangerous game things appear to go tits up disproportionately with archery as compared to non-dangerous game archery. It also seems that the bows are unnatural and way too powerful to handle for most people.
 

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Here is what I know about from my circle of friends and acquaintances that hunt Africa with bow.

1.) Of the dangerous game they've hunted, I think only 1 of the animals amongst about 10 were KILLED by the bow. Shooting a bow and then finishing with a PH's rifle seems to be very commonplace. Running out of arrows after numerous follow ups also seems commonplace. Allowing pursuits to go on too long with follow up arrows because clients don't want to lose the ability to put it in the record book appears to be common.

2.) One friend is really, really screwed up from bow hunting in Africa with high poundage equipment. He is a giant of a man that works out a TON. He had a 105lb draw bow and he messed up his carotid artery holding the draw back for a long time on stalks in Africa. Now he passes out if he gets any pressure on one side of his neck from it.

In conclusion, I have no definitive ethical conclusion. I'm sure it can be done ethically and often is. I'm sure animals get poked and go down just like a perfect shot on an American Whitetail. I also know that on dangerous game things appear to go tits up disproportionately with archery as compared to non-dangerous game archery. It also seems that the bows are unnatural and way too powerful to handle for most people.

Your friends need to discover http://www.alaskabowhunting.com. They're taking elephants and buffalo cleanly with longbows and sell the proper arrows and broad heads to do it.
 

Norwegianwoods

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I agree Stocky.
To me it sounds like they don't have much clue about what they are doing and their shooting skills are most like lacking a lot too.
 

BRICKBURN

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............
2.) One friend is really, really screwed up from bow hunting in Africa with high poundage equipment. He is a giant of a man that works out a TON. He had a 105lb draw bow and he messed up his carotid artery holding the draw back for a long time on stalks in Africa. Now he passes out if he gets any pressure on one side of his neck from it.
................

I think there might just be a pre existing underlying condition here.
Most compound bows have a significant let off. So holding a bow with 75% let off is a pretty light load to hold. (not that I can hold at full draw forever and I sure don't.)
If it was a long bow: What the heck was he doing holding the full draw for those lengths of time?
 

enysse

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I have seen some bad shots by certain a PSE owner on elephant and hippo. But that being said I have also seen elephant and hippo, taken without the animal really having a clue what went on before it died. It's a matter of perspective.
 

firehuntfish

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Here is what I know about from my circle of friends and acquaintances that hunt Africa with bow.

1.) Of the dangerous game they've hunted, I think only 1 of the animals amongst about 10 were KILLED by the bow. Shooting a bow and then finishing with a PH's rifle seems to be very commonplace. Running out of arrows after numerous follow ups also seems commonplace. Allowing pursuits to go on too long with follow up arrows because clients don't want to lose the ability to put it in the record book appears to be common.

2.) One friend is really, really screwed up from bow hunting in Africa with high poundage equipment. He is a giant of a man that works out a TON. He had a 105lb draw bow and he messed up his carotid artery holding the draw back for a long time on stalks in Africa. Now he passes out if he gets any pressure on one side of his neck from it.

In conclusion, I have no definitive ethical conclusion. I'm sure it can be done ethically and often is. I'm sure animals get poked and go down just like a perfect shot on an American Whitetail. I also know that on dangerous game things appear to go tits up disproportionately with archery as compared to non-dangerous game archery. It also seems that the bows are unnatural and way too powerful to handle for most people.

I really try to avoid "armchair quarterbacking" anyone's account of a hunting experience, but based on the statistics provided above, I have to agree with some of the others who commented that there are some underlying common denominators here....

If these folks are only actually killing 1 in 10 of the DG animals they are shooting, they need to re-examine their equipment and methods from top to bottom. Follow up shots are often necessary just as they would be with a firearm. They may also be necessary out of safety for the hunting party. But, if multiple arrows are necessary 9 out of 10 times, and a rifle is still needed, then they are not putting the arrows where they need to be or the equipment set-up is way off the mark for the task at hand.

That brings the second question into play as to the professionalism and ethics of the PH in charge of the hunt. Any PH with the required knowledge and experience necessary to hunt DG with a bow has obligations to both the safety of the hunting party, and to the ethical pursuit of the animal. Any truly professional PH would be very familiar with the clients' temperament, level of experience, and ability to shoot and handle the necessary equipment BEFORE heading into the bush with said client. A 1 in 10 kill ratio sounds to me like those factors are missing within your friends, acquaintances, and the PH they hunt with. It also sounds unnecessarily dangerous. I'm sorry, but your friends' DG hunts are not reflective of any of the DG game hunts I have been party to... Nor are they a fair assessment of bow hunting DG in Africa or elsewhere.

As far as the last sentence, if a bow seems to powerful or unnatural for the hunter, that in itself should be an automatic indicator to the hunter that he/she is not ready to handle that type of hunt. That goes for any type of weapon or hunting method. The one thing that I DO agree with is that DG hunting is not for everybody....And rightly so, it shouldn't be.....

I apologize for my criticism and I hate to be negative toward anyone's post, but those stats are just really crazy...
 

Lomadelray

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My two cents.

An ethical death in hunting is:
  • Quick as possible.
  • Painless as possible.
  • Not wasteful, ie. the game is recovered.
This speaks to shot placement, a hunters skill with his weapon, and judgement of when to take a shot and when not to, as well as his diligence after the shot.
A heart pierced by an arrow will bleed out just about as fast as one pierced by a bullet, might hurt less too. All things being equal, ethically I can't see a ton of difference between a bow and arrow and a rifle and bullet.
Full disclosure, I am a rifle hunter, and I have always been enamored with the idea of bow hunting however,
wounding rates for bow hunting have always been problematic for me personally, so I googled it and here are some things I found. There have been numerous studies on this topic, for example:

In a major study done in 1989 by Glen Boydston and Horace Gore, wildlife biologists at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, they compared data on archery and gun wounding losses gathered at four wildlife management areas in Texas from 1972 through 1985. During this period, archers bagged 128 deer and wounded and failed to retrieve 130 others, for a crippling loss exceeding 50%—revealing that for every deer legally killed and recovered by a bowhunter, at least one or more deer were wounded and left to die. Gun hunters killed 2,266 deer and wounded 150 others for a crippling loss of 7%. Thus, only 1 out of every 14 deer shot with guns was not retrieved.

Anecdotally a quote from Fred Bear in a letter to Adrian Benke, this from Adrian's book The Bowhunting Alternative : "I would guess that at the minimum, two deer are hit to get one. I personally know many bowhunters whose average is much worse…"

...Fred Bear
said that folks.

I also found this study http://www.marylandqdma.com/files/Download/Pedersen-31-34.pdf

Which suggest that state proficiency requirements significantly improve recovery rates but still produce a wounding rate of 18%, more than double rifle hunting wounding rates rates. This study was conducted from 1989-2006, 17 years worth of data.

A couple of points:
  • It takes more time and practice to become proficient enough at bowhunting than rifle hunting
  • Bowhunters that take the time to practice enough and have the proper equipment can absolutely hunt DG ethically.
  • Most bowhunters don't take the time.
  • If you don't invest the time to learn the skill you are not an ethical hunter.
This also brings up the question of tracking, put simply most people don't. I'm sure a much larger number of wounded animals could have been recovered had the hunter put in the effort required to find it. But the type of person who isn't putting in the time to get proficient with their weapon probably isn't putting in the time to find the game they just wounded.

Incidentally I feel like the same things could be said of a quite a few of big bore hunters.

But in the end guns are just more efficient killing tools, they shoot farther, faster, more often, and more accurately than bows. It takes less time to become proficient enough with the average rifle than it does the average bow. These are the reasons why guns supplanted bows as the military long arm for every army in the world. For the masses it is easier to be an ethical hunter with a gun than with a bow. It is not automatic by any means, but is easier.

Lack of practice, lack of skill, and therefore lack of ethical ability, is something that continues to plague the bowhunting community. Although it is probably less apparent on guided hunts.

PH's can cover a multitude of sins of both bow and rifle hunters. A PH's skill, judgement, and reflexes, can atone for the fact that you haven't spent enough time mastering your weapon or your nerves.
Just because you are on a guided hunt with a PH standing over shoulder to clean up your mess doesn't mean you are an ethical hunter, it just means you have the money and the desire. Skill, judgement, and work ethic, are synonymous with ethical hunting regardless of weapon or circumstance.

Peace.
 

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