West Virginia's bear, deer and wild boar archery season opens next Saturday. The serious bow hunter should have started practicing in August. At the same time, they should have their bows and arrows tuned-up.
Before I go any further with what some people may think is a lecture, I need to let you know: I am not a bow hunter. At this time of the hunting season, I prefer to squirrel hunt, particularly with a .22 rimfire rifle.
Ethical bow hunters should spend so much time practicing daily this time of the year. Their arrows should be refletched to where they fly like new. It is a well-known fact that the more they spin, the flatter and straighter they will travel.
Although West Virginia is not one of them, several states require bow hunting safety education classes. In these classes, a certain amount of proficiency is required before an individual can purchase a bow-hunting license.
The typical bow hunting class will usually consist of eight hours of interactive class study and at least three hours of practical field training.
Some of the topics covered in these classes are wildlife management, acceptable and unacceptable behavior, physical conditioning, game care and recovery, first aid, distance judging and bow shooting trails.
Students will be asked to place paper cutouts of the animal's vital organs in the proper positions.
This is an interesting mix of biology and proper hunting techniques. This is so a bow hunter can place the arrow in a vital area for a humane kill.
Just about every year, I hear the same complaint from certain deer gun hunters. 'My deer was wounded with an arrow and the carcass was full of gangrene. I had to throw away the meat.' This is the main reason why some states have this proficiency requirement.
Bow hunting is more physically demanding than gun hunting. Developing muscles to shoot a bow consistently requires endurance and strength. This can only come with practice, time, and conditioning.
Proper camouflage is also important to have a successful bow season. To be able to make a clean kill, the hunter must get closer to the target. They must be able to quickly use good judgment.
I personally know several archery hunters in this area and most of them take conditioning and practicing of the sport very seriously.
Archery hunting goes back to man's earliest times and a successful bow season demands excellence in many outdoor skills - far more than a successful gun-hunting season.