One of the first outdoor articles I penned was about whether bowhunters should shoot with their quiver on or off. Yikes. Not the best topic to kickoff one’s career with. I received throngs of e-mails and even some snail mail. Most of it was negative. Some of it was downright hateful.
Now, with 22 years of bowhunting experience under my belt and skin that’s grown quite thick, I feel compelled to touch on the subject once again. Strap in — here we go!
Ever see a champion 3-D shooter or indoor X buster toe the line with their quiver on? Me either. Why? Simple. It’s an unnecessary tool. These podium chasers demand precision accuracy, and often, a bow-mounted quiver can create minor balance issues due to the added side weight of a quiver full of carbon. These shooters don’t need bow-mounted arrow devices. They can wear hip quivers. They aren’t slinking on the ground after speed goats or slipping through buck brush in an alpine basin. Each shot they take is in a very controlled environment.
Of course, over the years, I’ve performed countless quiver-on vs. quiver-off tests. The stone-cold truth is I shoot better — not leaps and bounds, but noticeable — with my quiver removed. The bow feels streamlined, which fills me with confidence, and I especially notice boosted accuracy at ranges beyond 70 yards. In addition, a quiver-less bow is quieter. While quiver design has come a long way, the device is still attached to the bow’s sight, which is attached to the bow’s riser. It’s full of arrows held in place by grippers, and those arrows are typically tipped with broadheads. This creates a tad bit more bow noise at the shot.
I can see your brain running wild already, guessing I’m a quiver-off bowhunter. Pump the brakes.
It can feel a bit awkward, especially if you’re not used to it. Currently, my TightSpot 5-Arrow Quiver filled with five 418-grain (a piece) Easton Carbon Injexion 4MM shafts posts a fighting weight of 10.11 ounces. No, it isn’t a ton, but if you’ve been shooting with your quiver off and toss an arrow-filled rig on your bow, you’ll feel the weight difference immediately. The bow will feel tipsy.
Here’s the deal, though: Hunting with your quiver on can save your bacon, and if you spend time practicing with it on, you will get used to it very quickly. You can become extremely accurate and eliminate the chances of some serious mishaps.
For instance, the bull was coming on a string. I sensed he was moving to my right a touch, which eliminated a few shooting lanes and put the wind a bit more in his favor. I needed to move, so I did. I had an arrow loaded and left my removable quiver leaning against a tree. The bull came to 30 yards. I shot and hit a limb. He had no idea what happened and simply took two steps to his left, which gave me a perfect quartering-away shot. The problem: I didn’t have an arrow.
Two weeks later, while chasing rutting pronghorn, I had a buck charge to 70 yards before retreating to his does. I’d already removed my quiver and placed it on the prairie next to me. When he went over a hill, I moved toward him quickly. This time, he came to 40 yards. I flat missed. Enraged and full of testosterone, he sprinted forward, sliding to a stop at 18 yards. Yep, no arrow.
While shooting with your quiver off is convenient, I’ve found it to be disastrous while hunting, especially when hunting western big game on the ground. With my quiver mounted to my bow, another arrow is always in arm’s reach, and grabbing that arrow doesn’t require a big movement.
Of course, I switched to chasing western big game with my quiver attached. Later that same season, when I climbed into my whitetail stand, it came off again. Whitetails are edgy. I wanted the quietest rig possible, and being that I could hang the quiver on a hook next to me, I knew fresh ammo was in easy reach. No worries.
An hour into the sit, a respectable 8-point arrived hot on the heels of an in-estrous doe. At the shot, the buck stepped forward and the arrow impacted the liver. The doe went right 10 yards and he followed, stopped and stood. When I went to grab another arrow, the quiver swung on the tree hook. In a panic, I tried to pull the quiver off the tree, and it tumbled to the ground. I found that buck, but not for 12 hours.
One might chalk the above-mentioned stories up to bad lack. I don’t disagree. However, Murphy’s Law seems to rear its head often in the bowhunting woods. Today, I always bowhunt with my quiver attached to my bow. My mishaps have shrunk dramatically, and I don’t plan to ever make a change.
What about you? What should you do? Whatever feels most comfortable. With that noted, if this article resonates with you, it’s important to practice all-season with your quiver mounted to your bow. In addition, you want to make sure that quiver is full of arrows. You want to forget what shooting your bow felt like with your quiver off. Trust me on this.
Plus, you need to take full advantage of today’s innovative quiver designs. Most are very adjustable. Make sure you choose a quiver that will hug the riser and is adjustable horizontally. The more your tinker and test, the better bow balance you’ll get.
Earlier this year, after a long practice session, I decided to stretch things out a bit. I was shooting at 90 yards and was hitting low. I was dropping my bow arm and I knew it. Rather than taking a break or putting the bow away for the day, I decided to remove my quiver, drop the bow’s weight and boost the balance. Viola! It took a few groups, but the feel of shooting with my quiver off started to come back. I was shooting lights out, and instantly started thinking about bowhunting with my quiver off. Not good. Develop a routine and stick to it. The same holds true for those that plan to bowhunt with their quiver off. You can’t shoot all season with your quiver off, then head to the elk woods and take a shot at a 40-yard bull with your quiver attached and expect to feel steady and stable. Again, make a decision and stick to your decision. My advice: Lean toward leaving that quiver attached.