The Beginner’s Guide to Small-Game Bowhunting
Small-game bowhunting offers fast action and lots of shots, and results in excellent table fare. It’s also outstanding practice for hunting big-game animals – like white-tailed deer – because it requires many of the same skills, including stalking, butchering, shot placement and reading sign. Best of all, small-game hunting provides plenty of encounters with animals to practice those important bowhunting skills.
One of the best advantages to small-game hunting is finding places to hunt. Gaining access to private land is much easier because this style of hunting is less popular than hunting big game like deer. A farmer might already have someone hunting deer on their property, but if you want to hunt squirrels or the rabbits that eat their crops, then they’ll be happy to have you.
Before bowhunting small-game animals, check your local and state regulations for season dates, license and gear requirements, and other small-game guidelines. Then, start bowhunting with these tips.
SMALL GAME ARCHERY GEAR
Arrows and arrow points are the specialized equipment needed for small-game hunting. The type of arrow used is called a flu-flu arrow. These are just like the arrows you use for archery practice and big-game hunting, but with one difference: The fletching is much larger than standard arrow fletching.
The large fletching of a flu-flu arrow creates more drag to slow the arrow down. This prevents arrows from traveling long distances in the event of a miss, and makes it easier to find your arrows so you can keep having fun.
Your archery store makes flu-flu arrows that perfectly match your other arrows. In other words, your flu-flu arrows will be the same weight and length as your other arrows, so you won’t need to worry about adjusting your bow or sight for accurate shooting.
Hunting small game also requires specialized arrow points. These points vary from blunts to broadheads used for big-game hunting. The type of point you use depends on the animal you’re hunting.
Blunts work great for game like squirrels, grouse and rabbits. For anything bigger, a point with blades (broadhead) is a better choice. Pheasants and jackrabbits are examples of small-game animals that require broadheads for ethical kills. Your archery store will help you make the right choice for the small game you’re after.
Rabbit species are found all over America, and all of them are fun to hunt. They’re also excellent table fare; rabbits can be braised, grilled, stewed and slow-cooked into a delectable wild-game feast.
Rabbits feed early in the morning and late in the evening. Stalking them near food sources is a challenging and fun hunting experience. Rabbits feed mostly on leafy greens, and leave small pellet droppings where they feed. Once you find their feeding location, it’s only a matter of time before you have an opportunity to harvest one.
Squirrel hunting provides a lot of shot opportunities. These small targets require precise shooting, which makes them fun to hunt and provides great bowhunting practice.
Hunting squirrels involves a lot of looking up in trees to spot the flicker of a tail or the outline of a squirrel’s body. In the fall, squirrels eat acorns – and lots of them. Anywhere you find oak trees, you’ll find squirrels. Acorns are a favorite food for deer, too, and good squirrel spots often double as good deer spots. So while you’re hunting squirrels, make note of the acorn trees for future deer-hunting locations.
You can hunt squirrels by sitting still or by stalking them. One of the most effective techniques involves a little bit of both. You can slowly move through the woods, sit still for an hour or so, and then continue moving until you find the next honey hole.
Grouse are a specific type of game bird found throughout the country. Four grouse species and several subspecies reside in North America. They’re found in the tundra, prairies, forests and temperate rainforest regions. Grouse populations vary by state. Check your state wildlife agency website to find information on population levels, as well as hunting rules and regulations. All the species are beautiful birds. Best of all – they taste like chicken.
Grouse are often found hiding in brush or roosting in trees, so hunting these birds involves hiking through thick cover, which is excellent exercise for your legs and eyes. Covering a lot of ground is important, but it’s equally important to stop and look carefully for grouse. They often hunker down and hide, letting the hunter walk right by them.
Whether you hunt big- or small-game animals, bowhunting is a rewarding and enjoyable experience. While bowhunting you’ll get closer to nature and procure wonderful wild-game meat. If you want to have fun bowhunting small game, pick up some flu-flu arrows and small-game points at an archery store. Then hit the woods and start bowhunting!