“The old ways are not lost.”
Someone made this comment to me after seeing a photo of one of my successful traditional hunts; the comment has stuck with me. Our modern-day world is certainly a far cry from our ancestors, but the decision someone makes to shoot a simple stick and string helps to keep the love for traditional archery alive and well.
The love for traditional archery and all that it brings will not die with me, nor will it die with my daughter who has already shown an incredible interest in it for someone her age. In my opinion, traditional bowhunting is something that will continue on for years to come, carried on by generations of hunters such as myself. It holds a certain appeal, a deeper connection, that you can only get from hunting with a stick bow.
Everyone who has made the decision to hunt with a traditional bow has a story to tell: the “why”. It’s usually a great story that involves family and wanting to follow in the footsteps of tradition. Although I taught myself how to shoot a traditional bow, my own story on how I got into it is tightly woven into the stories of my own father and how he began bowhunting as a boy.
Traditional bowhunting is more about our love of plaid, and fondness for looking like we stepped out of a 1950s archery catalog – although these things certainly have a spot in what can draw you in.
Over time, you may find out that your “WHY” changes, your perspective shifts as you grasp a better understanding of the traditional archery lifestyle and all that it brings on a hunt. Yet, those of us who choose to hunt traditionally are extremely passionate about not only the act itself, but passing on the love for it as well. It’s not enough to simply enjoy the sport, when you can share the joy with others.
Seeing someone succeed with something that is considered “outdated” or “old school” seems to always inspire others. I was inspired by traditional hunters before me, and in the past seven years since I made the switch, three of my family members and several friends have also decided to pick up traditional archery. Even one person showing that it can be done, can have a huge impact on many – like the domino effect, where one will fall others will too.
Some trad hunters may tell you that we hunt with a stick and string for the simplistic aspect. Getting rid of the shooting aids, the sights, the letoff and simply relying on your own mind and physical skill is something that is truly different – and gets you in a different mental space than shooting a crossbow or compound bow.
This is definitely true, and a mental hurdle that you must overcome to become a truly good shot. With traditional it’s just you and your bow, so on the good days you can take credit. Unfortunately that also means you have to take credit for the bad days as well, when you can’t hit the broadside of a barn and you want to just give up.
“It’s a challenge,” many trad archers will tell you, and indeed it is. The challenge is also a big part of why I made the official switch from a wheel bow to a longbow. I wanted something to challenge me, as after 10 years hunting with a compound bow, I felt like I had hit a wall.
The excitement of hunting and taking a deer with a compound had grown methodical and lacked the enjoyment it had once given me when I first started. I felt like I was missing the connection I had once felt to the hunt. Trad was my attempt at finding that passion again, and it did not disappoint.
Traditional has a way of bringing you back to “How it was” when you first started hunting. The excitement, the adrenaline rush that comes with even seeing a deer, the determination and passion that follows a near success. It becomes less about the tag filled, and more about the journey that takes you to the end of that road.
When people hear that you hunt with a traditional bow, their first reaction is “That’s so cool!” Yet, you don’t hunt with a stick and string to be “cool”…on the contrary, it’s something that requires true dedication and hours of practice and a desire to succeed without caring what others think about it.
And that is one of the biggest reasons traditional bowhunting is alive and well, with no end in sight. We are a passionate bunch, who are behind this “trad life” in a whole-hearted way that will continue on for years to come.