Quiver On vs. Quiver Off: Which Works Best?

By PJ ReillyJanuary 30, 20182 Comments

LAST UPDATED: July 22nd, 2020

There’s a question bowhunters face each fall, which has only two possible answers, and which might have the bowhunting community split right down the middle.

The question?

Do you want to hunt with a quiver attached to your bow or not?

This is a question the vertical bowhunter and crossbow hunter alike must answer. Both have to haul their bow and arrows into the field. The beauty is, there is no wrong answer. Whatever works for you is the right answer. But there’s a lot to consider in making your choice. That’s what we’re here to talk about.

This bowhunters has a quiver mount that allows him to attach and detach his quiver with ease.

Quiver Choices

Before we start talking about the pros and cons of hunting with a quiver attached to your bow or not, let’s talk about the options you have for transporting your arrows into the field. With both compounds and crossbows, there are quivers that are permanently attached to your bow, and quivers that are removable.

The permanent quivers require tools to remove them. They’re likely to be the most secure, and result in the least amount of rattling at the shot.

Removable quivers feature mounting brackets that are screwed onto the bow, while the quivers themselves snap, twist or slide in and out of the brackets. They offer the versatility of shooting with the quiver on or off the bow, but they’re also the quivers prone to rattling, since they are meant to be removed.

The Mathews quiver mount allows for fast attach/detach of a quiver, while holding that quiver secure when it’s in place.

If something can move on a bow, odds are it will when you release the bowstring. There’s a lot of energy absorbed by a bow when the string is released. And that energy can shake loose even accessories that are tightly screwed into place.

Quiver On Vs. Quiver Off: Which Works Best?
Even the traditional crowd can choose between permanent and detachable quivers.

Even recurve bows used by traditional bowhunters can have bow-mounted quivers.

Most bow-mounted quivers for recurves and longbows are permanent, though, since they commonly come in two pieces. Taking such a quiver off in the field isn’t really practical, because then you’d have an unwieldy contraption to haul around.

It is possible, however, to attach to a recurve or longbow a one-piece, detachable quiver similar to those used by compound hunters, provided the bow’s riser is tapped to receive the screws.

Then, of course, you’ve got hip and back quivers. These can be worn on your belt, or slung over your back. There are even backpacks with quivers built in.

Arrow Count

When choosing a quiver for your bow, you’ve got to think about how many arrows you want to carry into the field. Crossbow quivers generally hold 3-6 bolts, while I’ve found vertical-bow quivers capable of holding anywhere from 3-10 arrows.

How many arrows should you carry? That’s unanswerable. Bowhunters heading into the backcountry for several days might want to think about quivers that hold more than six arrows, because they won’t have the chance to retrieve more should they lose or damage a couple during the course of a hunt. But certainly the bowhunter heading out for a morning or evening hunt near home doesn’t need 10 arrows. He might prefer the light weight of a four-arrow quiver.

In a perfect world, you’d need only one arrow for every deer you plan on shooting on a given hunt. But this isn’t a perfect world. We miss. We make poor shots. We might need more than one arrow to successfully harvest one deer.

Quiver On

So why would you want to hunt with a quiver on your bow? Convenience has to be at the top of the list. Your arrows are attached to your bow. That means, as long as you know where your bow is, you know where your arrows are.

That might seem so basic it’s not even worth mentioning. But have you ever gone gun hunting and left your ammo at home? It can happen to bowhunters too – unless your ammo is attached to your bow.

Having a bow-mounted quiver keeps your arrows conveniently at hand.

Try wearing a hip quiver some time and pick your way through the woods with a climbing stand or other gear strapped to your back. Don’t be surprised if your arrows continually catch on tree branches and brush, and bang against your stand. Hip quivers can be cumbersome, compared to a bow-mounted quiver.

Whether you use a recurve, compound or crossbow, having your arrows attached to your bow means you’ve got them right at your fingertips, should a follow-up shot be needed. Miss a deer with your first shot and all you have to do is grab an arrow from the quiver, reload and you’re ready for action in short order.

Bowhunters favor keeping their quivers attached to their bows for many reasons.

Let’s say you want to hunt with a quiver attached, but the weight causes your bow to tip sideways when you come to full draw. Don’t worry. There is a fix. A stabilizer will help balance your bow. If you have a stabilizer already, try a heavier one or one with a longer bar – maybe one that’s 10 or 12 inches long.

If none of that works, try a side rod mounted so it sits on the opposite of the bow from your quiver. Basically, it’s counterbalancing the quiver.

Quiver Off

How many of you practice shooting your bow with a quiver full of arrows attached? Some of you probably do, but others certainly don’t. Hunting season rolls around and now you attach that quiver full of arrows to your bow.

It’s going to change the feel of that bow in your hands. It’s going to throw off the balance. Maybe it’s enough weight that it causes you to drop your arm at the shot. That can cause a low miss. If you’ve got a hip quiver, backpack quiver or a detachable bow-mounted quiver, you can hunt just like you practice – without that extra weight on your bow.

Since many of us practice without a quiver on our bows, it might be a good idea to hunt without one attached too.

Some compound bows out there are pretty short axle to axle. Let’s say you’ve got a 28-inch-long bow and your arrows also are 28 inches. Encased in an attached quiver, those arrows are going to extend beyond your bottom cam.

When you come to full draw, you have to think about where those arrows are. Are they going to hit your tree stand, blind or anything else as you swing into position? If you take your quiver off, that’s not an issue.

Some bowhunters might opt for carrying a quiver that’s not attached to their bow to reduce weight.

A lot of crossbow hunters like to use a set of shooting sticks to help support the bow when they hunt, or they plan to shoot off some other support. Most crossbow quivers attach to the underside of the bow.

Well, with a quiver attached, your bolts can get in the way when you set the stock on your sticks, or a rail on a tree stand or the window ledge in a blind. Without the quiver, there’s no such problem.

One option for bowhunters is to have a detachable quiver that stays on your bow while hiking to and from your stand site, but which can be removed once you’re on stand.

Every accessory you add to your bow can increase the sound your bow makes when you release the string, no matter what kind of bow you’re shooting. Obviously, hunting without a quiver means you’ve got one less potential source of noise. That can be the difference between a perfect heart shot and having a deer duck your arrow, because the sound alarmed it.

You bowhunters concerned about rattling and extra noise can choose hip or backpack quivers. There’s nothing extra to put on your bow if you haul your arrows in one of those quivers.

Whether you use a removable quiver or a hip or backpack quiver, tree stand hunters can hang the quiver on the tree behind your stand. Ground blind hunters can simply set theirs on the ground. Either way, they’re within easy reach. They’re just not quite as handy as they are when the quiver is attached to the bow.

Quiver on?
Quiver off?

You decide what works best. As long as you’re hunting successfully, it doesn’t really matter which side of the debate you fall on.

PJ Reilly
P.J. Reilly is an avid archer and bowhunter disguised as an outdoor writer. P.J. lives in a swamp in southeast Pennsylvania, where he watches deer and tries to avoid poison ivy.
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