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John's Journal... Entry 265, Day 2


My First Nighttime Bow Fishing Experience

Editor's Note: As an outdoorsman, I enjoy hunting and fishing. I like to participate in both sports all year. However, often the seasons conflict. However now, folks can hunt with a bow when deer season and turkey season end, although the game has neither fur nor feathers but rather scales. If you want to get a fight started in any fish camp along the Gulf Coast, just start talking about hunting redfish at night with a bow. Most folks won't jump your case if you talk about shooting sheepshead with a bow, because outdoorsmen generally don't consider sheepshead the sacred cow of the Upper Gulf Coast. But many sportsmen feel very strongly about bowhunting for redfish. I think I speak for outdoorsmen when I say that many of us, regardless of how we feel about how anglers take redfish, probably perceive anyone who takes redfish by a different method than us as using an immoral and unethical method. But I personally think that a redfish in the skillet is still a redfish in the skillet, whether you take it on hook and line or with a bow and arrow. Too, as long as bowhunters don't take over their legal limit of redfish, why do we have controversy? "Well, bow hunting for redfish just ain't sporting," a whiskered, leathery-faced fisherman told me recently. However, he also admitted he'd never hunted redfish at night with a bow, but the idea of that just didn't seem sporting to him. This past year, friends and I traveled to Louisiana and hunted redfish and sheepshead with bows and arrows with my friend Bo Hamilton.

Last year I bow-fished with Ryan Plaisance and Jeremy Russell of Lafitte, Louisiana. We had two novice bowhunters with us who never had bow-fished before or shot a redfish or a sheepshead -- Katie Taylor of New Orleans, Louisiana, and Stephanie Mallory from Birmingham, Alabama. Before we left on our trip, Plaisance told me, "We take many first-time bowfishermen out on their first bow-fishing trips. We've taught secretaries, accountants, corporate executives, factory workers and mill hands how to shoot bows, aim at the fish and take the fish. Too, we also have many 3-D archers and bowhunters who are looking for an off-season sport to go bow fishing with us. We always have lots of fun on each trip and take some fish. And, our guests have experiences they'll never forget." I'll have to admit that I've never before put on ear protection like you wear at a rifle range when I've gone bowhunting or fishing. However, hunting from an airboat that sounds like the roar or a jet engine as an airplane takes off makes the ear protection mandatory when you run between the shallow-water bays where we hunted the redfish. The deck of the airboat can accommodate three bow hunters at a time. Each shooter takes the fish that show up in the halogen lights beneath his or her shooting station. Perhaps I need to reword that. Each shooter has the opportunity to shoot at the redfish and the sheepshead that show up in his or her lights.

When you spot a redfish, you first must make sure that the fish has the legal length for you to harvest it. Then you have to draw, aim and shoot quickly, because of the movement of both you and the fish. You also have to aim somewhat under the fish due to the way the light refracts the image of the fish. The fish's scaly sides will appear higher in the water than the fish's actual position. After missing a number of fish while bow fishing, I've learned that shooting instinctively produces more fish than my attempting to aim and calculate my shots.




Check back each day this week for more about REDFISH WITH A BOW...

Day 1 - Bow Fishing and Deer Hunting -- The Similarities
Day 2 - My First Nighttime Bow Fishing Experience
Day 3 - Equipment for Bow Fishing
Day 4 - The Adventure
Day 5 - Are Bow Fishermen Slaughtering Fish?

John's Journal