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John's Journal... Entry 268, Day 4


Tight Quarters: The Crossbow’s Best

Editor’s Note: My brother, Archie, always considered himself a bow-hunting purist. He shot the longbow first, next the recurve and finally the cam-bow. He thought of a crossbow as simply a rifle powered by a string. But then when Archie's ATV fell on top of him and nearly crushed him, he wondered how he would bow-hunt during the upcoming bow season. At that time, Alabama just had passed a law enabling disabled hunters and older hunters, both terms that applied to my brother although he'd never admit it, to use crossbows if they made application to the state. To receive a permit to hunt with crossbows, hunters had to prove they had physical limitations that would justify the need for them to use crossbows. The idea of shooting a crossbow presented a real dilemma for my brother. Would he shoot what he had called a rifle powered by a string, or would he give up hunting deer from October 15th to the end of January during Alabama's deer season?

Click to enlargeWhile hunting at Wing Shooters Ranch, near LaBelle, Florida, Neil Dougherty of New York and I spotted a large herd of feral hogs drinking from a small pond. To get a shot at them with our bows, we had to move downwind to make the stalk because wild hogs have such a well-defined sense of smell. Once downwind of the porkers, we saw the pigs drifting off into an oak thicket. We crossed open ground without the feral hogs spotting us and followed the grunting and squealing sounds of the pigs into the thick brush. The very-heavy cover in many places forced us to get on our hands and knees to pursue the pigs. After we crawled about 50 yards, Dougherty whispered, "There they are. Can you get off a shot?" But the very-thick overhanging limbs and the palmetto fans growing up from the ground prevented me from having enough clearance to get off a shot with my conventional bow. Only a small hole in the cover about 1-1/2 feet off the ground allowed us to see the hogs and spot their vitals. "There's no way I can get off a shot in here," I explained to Dougherty. "But, if you've got a shot, go ahead, and take it."

Click to enlargeIn Florida, since sportsmen could hunt with crossbows, Dougherty had brought his crossbow along to test it out on the porkers. With the bow already cocked, and the arrow in place, Dougherty propped on his elbows and spotted a fat feral hog through the opening. In an instant, Dougherty's crossbow fired, the boar squealed, and Dougherty announced, "I've got him!" The hogs bolted out of the thicket like a flushed covey of quail, never offering me a shot. But, as Dougherty and I went to the spot where the boar had stood, we found blood and the arrow with blood all the way up to the end of the shaft. The easy-to-follow blood trail led us to pork chops, less than 40-yards away. We'd had a great hunt, and I'd learned a new reason for hunting with the crossbow. In close quarters, where a hunter has extreme difficulty drawing and shooting a bow, he'll find the maneuverability of the crossbow allows him to take shots he can't make with a longbow. I've also learned that crossbow hunting, especially for porkers, translates to a heck of a lot of fun. The crossbow delivers more power and speed to the point of the broadhead than conventional wheel or cam-bows do, providing more knock-down power and greater accuracy, not only at short range, but particularly at the longer ranges. Because landowners and wildlife managers in many southern states view feral hogs as nuisances, you often can hunt wild pigs year-round in many of these states. Crossbows will take hogs, which provide tasty targets when hunters don't have deer and turkey in season.

Click to enlargeHere's an option. If you don't want to hunt deer with a crossbow, but your state permits the use of crossbows, consider using the crossbow for taking hogs and other nuisance animals. But I must warn you that you'll discover a certain romance and mystical charm associated with hunting and shooting the crossbow that makes it very addictive. Once you pick up a crossbow, you never may want to put it down.





Check back each day this week for more about DON'T SAY NO TO THE CROSSBOW...

Day 1 - My Brother’s Dilemma
Day 2 - Don't Think You Won't Ever Need A Crossbow
Day 3 - Ban Bow Hunting Or Promote It?
Day 4 - Be a Real Bowhunter: Shoot a Crossbow
Day 5 - Tight Quarters: The Crossbow’s Best

John's Journal