The Real Badass of Bowhunting

In an age of hyper speed bows, carbon arrows, and huge mechanical broadheads, it is easy to lose sight of where we’ve come from as bow hunters.  People have been killing things with a stick and string for over 30,000 years.  It is easy to forget that what we’re doing is nothing new regardless of the space age materials our equipment is now made of.

Currently, it seems everyone is fixated on arrow speed and how big of hole their broad head can leave.  Spend five minutes in any bow shop and you’ll come out believing your equipment is completely ineffective unless you’re zipping an arrow out of a carbon frame bow at 330 fps.  It’s easy to get wrapped up in all this stuff and think that by being on the cutting edge of technology we’re breaking new ground in archery when in fact, we really aren’t.  If anything, as our equipment is advancing, we as hunters and shooters are regressing.

Howard Hill is considered by many to be the greatest archer of all time.  Before his death in 1975 he had tallied over 2,000 animals with a long bow and was the first white man to kill an elephant with archery equipment.

Remember back in the early 90’s when 80 and 90 pound compounds were the measure of manliness?  Hill used a 172 pound long bow on that elephant.  That, sir, is a man.

Everyone nowadays seems to think the pinnacle of “making it” in the bowhunting world is to get a tv show on one of the pay to play outdoor networks.  Howard Hill produced over 20 feature films for Warner Brothers in his career.  When is the last time you saw one of the current hunting “celebrities” get national exposure other than Ted Nugent spouting some inane garbage on a cable news show?

Levi Morgan might be one of the best 3d shooters in the world right now, but Howard Hill won 196 field archery competitions in a row.  Hill also shot plums and other small targets off of people’s heads at 20 yards.  I’m going to say that again.  He shot small pieces of fruit off of people’s heads.  One miscue and it was curtains for his volunteer.  Youtube abounds with 100+ yard bow shots but whens the last time you saw someone make an almost 400 yard shot with traditional equipment?  Howard Hill pulled that one off in the 1950’s.

As time has progressed, we’ve lost our way as archers.  We no longer have any Howard Hills, Ben Pearsons, or Fred Bears.  These guys have been replaced by fist pumping, over the top personalities pimping the latest and greatest shortcut to success.  Gone are the days of packing of into the backcountry solo to pursue something other than a 150 inch whitetail.  We’ve become obsessed with antler scores and trophy management.  Having the newest and best camo and scent suppression system has taken the front seat over woodsmanship.  This needs to change.  Our forebearers did what they did because it was fun and it was challenging.  They were breaking new ground and not even knowing it.  So this fall, when you take to the woods, do it for yourself.  Keep it simple.   Embrace the challenge of what we do and love and try to channel your inner Howard Hill.  You don’t have to go try shooting plums off of someones head, but instead, I challenge you to do one thing this fall with a bow that you have never done.  Whether it is expanding your effective range, taking up traditional equipment, or small game hunting with your bow, it will put us back on track and increase your overall skill set as a bowhunter.  Our sport is getting stagnate and it’s up to us to change it.