Bowhunting is quickly gaining popularity, thanks to movies like “The Hunger Games” and “Brave.” The meditative concentration of drawing a bow can be infectious and is attracting people to the sport that have never hunted before. Shorter shooting distances and remaining undetected by prey make bowhunting a challenge hunters of all experience levels crave. Bowhunting may take intense focus and concentration, but it’s a shooting sport that anyone can do.
“Someone who already bow hunts and can show you the ropes is a great starting point,” said Marisa Futral, hunter education coordinator for the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF). “Their experience and knowledge is an excellent resource for a beginning bowhunter to tap into.”
Some basic equipment needed for beginners includes a bow, arrows with broad-head tips, a quiver, a treestand, safety harness, and a small flashlight for going in and out of woods in the dark. If hunting for deer or turkey, an Alabama Hunter Harvest Record printed with a hunting license is required.
“Archery lessons and competing in archery tournaments are great ways to keep up your skills when hunting season ends,” said Futral. “There are six WFF community archery parks in Alabama, and three more are under construction. Lessons are offered at some of those facilities.”
In addition to equipment, a hunting license and a hunter education course are necessary for hunters born after Aug. 1, 1977. Alabama does not require special bowhunter education. However, the International Bowhunter Education Program is required to participate in special hunts held each fall at Oak Mountain State Park near Birmingham aimed at controlling the park’s deer population. Hunting licenses are available from various local retailers or online at OutdoorAlabama.com.
Since most bowhunting is done from an elevated platform, treestand safety is an important aspect of the sport.
Falling from a treestand is one of the most common hunting-related injuries. Always read the manufacturer’s instructions and inspect the treestand prior to use. Most importantly, always wear a safety harness when climbing, sitting, or descending from a treestand.
Alabama’s bowhunting season runs from Oct. 15 until Jan. 31, offering hunters lots of time in the woods, which is one of the primary perks of hunting. However, a hunt that results in a freezer full of venison is deeply satisfying as well.
For information about bowhunting, hunting licenses, regulations, a list of public hunting lands and community archery parks, visit OutdoorAlabama.com.