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9 Reasons Bowfishing Will Make You A Better Big Game Hunter

9 Reasons Bowfishing Will Make You A Better Big Game Hunter

Bowfishing is popular for plenty of reasons; however, the most compelling is that it's pure fun. Aside from the sheer enjoyment of it all, there are some ancillary benefits to spending time on the water trying to skewer a few fish.

Although it may seem like a bit of a stretch, the reality is that anytime you're hunting anything with archery tackle, you're probably upping your game to some extent. This means that your time on the water eying up scaly trophies will help you when fall rolls around and you're focused more on the procurement of venison than fish patties.

Here are nine reasons why bowfishing will make you a better big game hunter.


We all love a target-rich environment. Unfortunately, they don't exist in the big game world as often as they should. Fortunately, underwater dwellers do tend to congregate at certain times in ways that may produce 100 shots or more in a few hours. That's a lot of practice shooting at a low-pressure target, which will help when a high-pressure target ambles by later in the year.

Aim Small, Miss Small

The old adage about aiming small and missing small is still relevant for all bowhunters to this day. While bowfishing is often represented as a way to procure behemoth alligator car and girthy carp of various species, it's far more common to shoot at smaller fish. These targets are easy to miss, and, therefore, force a bit more focus when it comes time to aim. This is just like 'picking a spot ' on a buck's ribs, only it involves scales. Either way, learning to aim at a specific piece of a target will have you shooting better on the range and in the field.


Along with the action that bowfishing can provide comes confidence. It's impossible to overstate the importance of confidence when it comes to shooting accuracy and hunting success. Confident archers and confident hunters nearly always kick the butts of those with low self-esteem. If you want to feel good about yourself, spend some time shooting cruising carp or spawning suckers until you just know you can hit every fish you see.


Seasoned big game bowhunters are in tune with their surroundings to the point where their first glimpse of an animal often comes in the form of recognizing a belly or back-line in the mostly vertical world of the woods. Other tells include a glinting antler, or perhaps the white throat patch of an approaching buck as he tests the air with his nose. The ability to decipher details contributes to more bowhunting success, and this holds true on the water as well. Spotting a finning gar amongst the branches of a laydown, or a sunning carp on the edge of a floating bog will train your eyes to look for certain details that betray a fishes — or animals — presence.


There are bowhunters out there obsessed with equipment, though the vast majority of bowhunters simply aren't. While it's true equipment doesn't make the hunter, good gear certainly doesn't hurt. Neither does the knowledge of how to spruce up existing gear or recognize when something has gone wonky in your setup. Bowfishing forces you to pay attention to your bow, arrows and points, as well as other pieces of equipment. Learning to ferret out the best and most functional stuff on the water will help you choose better big game gear, and help you recognize what's working and what isn't.


Bowfishing isn't a proper-form-intensive archery endeavor like 3D competition or drawing down on a bedded mule deer. However, that doesn't mean that sloppy form is OK. Bowhunting accuracy is all about muscle memory and repeatable form, and if you can shore up your shooting game on the water, you'll be much better off in the whitetail woods come fall.


While bowfishing can be a fast and furious endeavor, it's also prone to periods of down time. These are the times when it's easy to overlook opportunities. Down time when trying to arrow carp is no different than a slow day in the elk mountains. If you rush it, you'll almost always regret it at some point. I'd rather screw up on bottom-feeders than bull elk any day. If there is one virtue you can glean from bowfishing, it's patience.

Shot Selection

Rough fish don't demand the same level of ethics that big game animals do, but that doesn't mean we should be launching fish arrows at every wake we see. Shot selection while bowfishing is important because taking better shots will result in more fish in the barrel. This means that the head-on or obscured-by-vegetation fish has less chance of ending up shish-ka-bobbed than the wide-open, full-profile fish. This is no different than waiting on a deer to quarter away from you, or an elk to give you a full broadside. Shot angles are everything in bowhunting and the more you think about them at all times, the better hunter you'll be.


Stalking a lazing carp is a far cry from belly-crawling through sage brush while a Booner antelope feeds on the open prairie. However, that doesn't mean that rough fish are pushovers. Sometimes it's nice to leave the boat at home and do some wading. When you do, you'll realize there are more aspects to bowfishing than meets the eye. A slow walk through a river or along a lake shore in search of a scaly target will teach you to tread lightly and watch where you step.

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