Have you ever tried bowfishing? While the setup and hunting grounds is different from that of a deer hunt, I find that bowfish hunting provides the same level of excitement and challenge as land hunting.
In order to make the most out of the experience, it is better if you know the right way to hold the bow, predict the movements of your target, and learn where to properly aim your arrows.
For this tutorial, I will help you learn the basics of bowfish hunting, including where and when to bowfish, where to aim when bowfishing, and how to properly aim your bow to shoot your target.
When and Where to Bowfish
First things first: Before you can apply the proper bowfish hunting techniques, it’s better if you learn first when and where is the best time to go bowfishing.
In theory, you can hunt fish using your trusty bow at any time of day and any day of the year. However, your success rate may depend largely on your chosen schedule.
If you want to do bowfishing during the day, you may have more chances of hauling a catch if you plan your hunt around spring or summer. This is considered the spawning season of many freshwater fish, like carp, catfish, and eel.
For nighttime bowfishing, you can plan your trip anytime, but I recommend that you schedule it during spring, in time for the fishes’ spawning time. You can also plan your trip in autumn because the water tends to be clearer but not freezing for the fish.
Ideally, you can bowfish in fresh bodies of water. Carps, eels, catfish, and other freshwater fish live in rivers, lakes, and even ponds. For a more challenging hunt, you can also head out to saltwater hunting areas. Many saltwater fish such as dogfish and stingrays live in these areas.
A quick tip: Try to look for clear, shallow sections of your choice of body of water. About 3 to 4 feet deep should do nicely. Fish usually flock in these areas so you may have an easier time spotting them.
Also, a shallower depth means that your arrows would probably encounter as much resistance. This may mean a bigger chance to strike your target at your first shot.
Where to Aim When Bowfishing
Water refraction may fool even seasoned bowfish hunters into thinking that we’re aiming at the right place when in reality, there’s actually a slight difference between what we see and where we really need to aim at.
While many hunters simply use instinct when bowfish hunting, I have discovered a simple but effective technique that helped improve my accuracy.
Called the 10:4 rule, this technique will require you to estimate the distance of the fish from your spot and from the water’s surface. The basic formula is 10 feet x 1 foot : 4 inches.
This means that if your target is 10 feet away and 12 inches below the water’s surface, you should aim about 4 inches low to increase your chances of hitting the fish.
You can then adjust your aim depending on the distance of your targets. For example, if your target is 20 feet away, then simply multiply 4 by 2 - which means you have to aim 8 inches low. Do the same if your fish is 10 feet away but 2 feet deep.
This may seem confusing at first, but with practice and good instincts, you may improve your aim and accuracy over time.
How to Aim When Bowfishing
Using a fishing bow follows the same principles as using a traditional or compound bow for deer hunting.
First, draw back your bow and look for an anchor point to help you make more consistent shots. I usually use my middle finger as an anchor point - when it rests on the side of my cheek, then I know I’m all set and anchored in.
You don’t really need a pin sight when bowfishing. Simply look right through the bowstring and down the arrow tip. Make sure that the tip of the arrow is below the fish you’re aiming at and not directly at it. Remember the concept of refraction and the 10:4 rule.
Once you’ve zeroed in your target, release your bow. When you do manage to strike the fish, you may then use your bow’s reel to pull your catch in.
No matter what time of day or what season you choose to schedule your fishbow hunt, don’t forget the 10:4 rule I shared. You don’t have to follow it religiously though; remember that the best techniques are more effective when paired with your hunter’s instincts.
Once you’ve caught your share of fish, you can now start preparing them! To make your task easier, you should look for a good fillet knife that has the right combination of weight, blade, and handle.
Do you have questions or suggestions on where to properly aim your bow and arrow during a bowfish hunt? Leave them in the comments section below. I’d love to hear your ideas. Happy bowfishing!
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