Skip to main content

Bowhunting Is Not A Numbers Game

As the old saying goes, numbers don't lie. Then again, numbers don't tell the whole story, either.

The challenge of bowhunting makes every harvest something to celebrate. For Editor

Christian Berg, this mature doe was a welcome reward during a difficult 2008 season.


Take my 401(k) account, for example. The cold, hard numbers tell me my portfolio is down an ungodly 48 percent over the past year. But what the numbers don't say is that I have another 30 years or so before retirement. During that time, I stand a reasonable chance of not only recouping those losses but making some handsome profits too. The trick is not ignoring the numbers, but taking care to keep them in proper context.


Much the same can be said about our bowhunting endeavors. For those of us who read a lot of hunting magazines and watch outdoor television programs, it's easy to get caught up in the numbers game. Yet the true value of a hunt is measured not in antler inches but in quality experiences. Many of my memories from fruitless days afield burn more brightly than those from days that ended with a steaming gut pile.

I have to remind myself of such things as I reflect on my 2008 Pennsylvania archery season, because speaking strictly by the numbers, I did not receive a particularly favorable return on my investment of time and effort. According to my logbook entries, I made 26 separate hunting outings and spent 72 hours on stand -- a figure that does not include time spent driving to and from my hunting areas or hiking to and from stands.




During all those outings, I saw roughly 75 whitetails, yet my carcass tally consisted of exactly one doe. So, it's fair to say I wasn't exactly slaying them.


Still, it would be a mistake to call the season a failure. Watching the 74 or so deer I didn't shoot -- especially the two trophy bucks I just couldn't kill -- was a heck of a lot of fun.

Memories from those "empty" days include watching a 5-point scrapper buck breed a doe just yards away from my stand, a stunning misty morning sunrise and getting to know the habits of a fat raccoon that occupied a hollow tree trunk next to one of my favorite perches.

Sure, my release trigger finger got a little itchy at times. But when that big, mature doe finally strolled past on Nov. 12 -- 25 hunts and 70 stand hours into my season -- I didn't just kill her. I had earned her. Her savory venison was my reward not simply for the 24-yard, double-lung shot, but for my commitment to the hunt. It was payment for thousands of arrows fired on the practice range, obedience to dozens of 4:30 a.m. alarms and the restraint I exercised in letting scores of yearlings and small-racked bucks walk.

Don't get me wrong. I like to fill the freezer and feel the adrenaline rush of seeing big bucks as much as, if not more than, the next guy. Considering I keep a logbook that allows me to tell you exactly how many hours I spend on stand and how many deer I see each season, I'd have a hard time convincing anyone that numbers aren't important to me. However, focusing on the numbers alone makes it difficult to appreciate more subtle aspects of the hunt that aren't easily written down in black and white.

I believe this sentiment was captured perfectly by modern bowhunting pioneer Dr. Saxton Pope in his legendary work, Hunting With The Bow And Arrow.

"In the joy of hunting is intimately woven the love of the great outdoors. The beauty of the woods, valleys, mountains and skies feeds the soul of the sportsman where the quest of game only whets his appetite.

"After all, it is not the killing that brings satisfaction, it is the contest of skill and cunning. The true hunter counts his achievement in proportion to the effort involved and the fairness of the sport."

May we all measure our bowhunting deeds thusly.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

New for 2021: Excalibur Crossbow, BowTech Bows, TightSpot Quiver, Ripcord Rests, Black Gold Sights

New for 2021: Excalibur Crossbow, BowTech Bows, TightSpot Quiver, Ripcord Rests, Black Gold Sights

New for 2021 are several hunter-defined products, such as the Excalibur TwinStrike Crossbow, BowTech Solution and Solution SS Bows, TightSpot Pivot 2.5 Quiver, Ripcord Cage and Code Red X arrowrests, and Black Gold Pro FX and Pro Hunter HD sights.

New for 2021: Mathews V3 27 & 31 Bows

New for 2021: Mathews V3 27 & 31 Bows

Bowhunter Editor Curt Wells had an exciting visit with Mark Hayes, design engineer for Mathews, as the pair looked at the new V3 27 and V3 31 bows.

New for 2021: Bear Redemption EKO, Legit RTH Compound Bows

New for 2021: Bear Redemption EKO, Legit RTH Compound Bows

Bear Archery's newest bows - Redemption EKO and Legit RTH - are light, adjustable and fast.

The Science & History of Scent Thief

The Science & History of Scent Thief

Russel Epperson, inventor and partner of Scent Thief, explains how the company got its start, and why their products are so effective in blocking unwanted scent.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

The all-new 2021 offering will certainly be one of the most accurate long-range crossbows ever built.First Look: TenPoint Havoc RS440 XERO Crossbows

First Look: TenPoint Havoc RS440 XERO

Christian Berg - January 14, 2021

Sponsored By
TenPoint Crossbows
Have a look at some of the very best compound bows being brought to the market this year.New Bows for 2021 ATA Show

New Bows for 2021

Christian Berg - January 11, 2021

Have a look at some of the very best compound bows being brought to the market this year.

With a new year comes a fresh batch of top-notch crossbows. Here are some of the best.New Crossbows for 2021 ATA Show

New Crossbows for 2021

Mark Demko - January 08, 2021

With a new year comes a fresh batch of top-notch crossbows. Here are some of the best.

Ravin hits a new milestone with its 2021 R500 series of crossbows.First to 500: New Ravin Lineup Sets Crossbow Speed Mark ATA Show

First to 500: New Ravin Lineup Sets Crossbow Speed Mark

Mark Demko - January 13, 2021

Ravin hits a new milestone with its 2021 R500 series of crossbows.

See More Trending Articles

More Industry



State after state has liberalized its crossbow-hunting regulations in recent years, and WisconsinIs Wisconsin the Next Crossbow State? Industry

Is Wisconsin the Next Crossbow State?

Christian Berg - August 13, 2013

State after state has liberalized its crossbow-hunting regulations in recent years, and...

The morning after it was originally hit, a wounded bull elk charged and gored a hunter in the neck. Oregon Bowhunter Fatally Gored by Charging Elk Industry

Oregon Bowhunter Fatally Gored by Charging Elk

Lynn Burkhead - August 31, 2020

The morning after it was originally hit, a wounded bull elk charged and gored a hunter in the...

Bowhunters can be found just about anywhere and often in some unexpected places. One of those is aNed Yost: Baseball and Bowhunting Industry

Ned Yost: Baseball and Bowhunting

Mark Demko - May 11, 2016

Bowhunters can be found just about anywhere and often in some unexpected places. One of those...

In 1969, before the days of 350-fps bows and laser rangefinders, Bill Wadsworth advocated forGet to Know the National Bowhunter Education Foundation Industry

Get to Know the National Bowhunter Education Foundation

Emily Kantner - April 05, 2018

In 1969, before the days of 350-fps bows and laser rangefinders, Bill Wadsworth advocated for

See More Industry

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Petersen's Bowhunting App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Petersen's Bowhunting subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now