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By Daniel Ross

When choosing what weapon to use for deer hunting, it ultimately comes down to two choices for the modern hunter: the bow or the rifle.

Everyone seems to have their preference. Why do some prefer one to the other? What are the pros and cons of each? Which one costs more time and money?

While I, myself, have only ever experienced hunting with a rifle, I’ve asked many of my bowhunting friends what makes them prefer the bow to the gun. I’ve also researched each of the weapons to give a basic overview of how they’re used while hunting, and why some prefer one over the other.

Rifles

Before I started hunting, I assumed that all hunters used rifles. It’s been the weapon of choice for hunters for two centuries and has become so ubiquitous that I didn’t even consider that other weapons were used. The main reason why is that rifles are just mechanically better than bows. They are easier to use, have easily-transportable ammunition, and have a much longer range.

Due to the ease of use, hunters who don’t have a lot of time prefer rifles as it doesn’t take as long to get proficient with it. The longer range is also important as it means rifle hunters don’t have to worry as much about being stealthy like bowhunters. A rifle hunter can take out a deer from several hundred yards away while a bowhunter has to get within about 40 yards.

Generally, the rifle is a much more accessible weapon for hunters. Not only that, but since it has been the most popular hunting weapon for so long, many hunters have developed certain traditions around it. I actually know a family where every boy is given a rifle as a gift on his thirteenth birthday. They’ve done this for at least four generations.

It’s also worth mentioning that using a rifle is actually cheaper than using a bow. On average, it’ll cost a hunter around a $1,000 to buy a useable rifle and all the necessary accessories for it. A bow will end up costing twice that when you consider that not only will they have to buy a working bow, but they will also need things like scentless clothing and camo to get within range of the deer they plan to hunt. Rifles are superior to bows as weapons, in my opinion. Although, many choose to hunt with bows for other reasons.

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Bows

Something that surprised me when I started researching bowhunters is 75% of them also use rifles. In most cases, they started hunting with rifles first then decided to switch to bows later. When I asked why they switched, most of them told me it was because the sense of accomplishment they felt. It takes years to become proficient with a bow, and most of them feel a great sense of confidence wielding a weapon it took them so long to become good with.

Another thing I found was that many of them said that bowhunting felt like a much more natural way to hunt.

As a good friend of mine put it, “It’s the way all our ancestors did it going back to the cavemen. Stalking your prey, sneaking up close, and seeing the look on their face when the arrow flies feels so much more natural than taking them out through a scope 200 yards away. It feels like the way hunting was supposed to be done.”

Each of them told me that using a bow to take down their prey gave them an adrenaline rush that they couldn’t get by using a rifle. While a rifle may technically be a superior weapon to a bow, it doesn’t seem to give the same experience, according to those I’ve spoken with.

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Ultimately, each weapon is different, and which one people prefer depends on a number of factors. Whether it’s convenience, tradition, or looking for a thrill, people will pick up a bow or rifle depending on which one better fits their needs.

Happy hunting, regardless of your weapon of choice.

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Striped bass are one of the most prized gamefish on the East Coast. In Maryland, striped bass (known locally as rockfish) are the state fish. Fishing for striped bass isn’t a pastime, it borders on religion. Anglers will get up before dawn to cast their long rods from shoreline rock jetties in hopes of getting a bite from the prized fish.

Lately, those bites have been harder and harder to come by. That’s why local anglers are really upset about poachers. They are keenly watching to see what happens in a current poaching case.

Get the latest update about the case in this article from The Baltimore Sun.

A St. Michaels fisherman received probation Friday for helping illegally harvest tens of thousands of pounds of striped bass from the Chesapeake Bay, but must pay $40,000 in fines and restitution for what the sentencing judge called an “egregious” offense.

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Anglers like this one await the judge’s decision in the poaching case

U.S. District Court Judge Richard D. Bennett told Lawrence Daniel Murphy he seriously considered jailing him, but went along with the prosecution’s recommendation for probation because of Murphy’s relatively minor role in a fish poaching conspiracy involving three other Eastern Shore watermen.

However, Bennett said he wanted to hit Murphy in the wallet to send a message to other watermen that illegal fishing is a “very, very serious matter.” Striped bass, also known as rockfish, are Maryland’s state fish.

Murphy, 37, worked as a helper aboard the Kristin Marie from 2007 to 2012 with Tilghman Island watermen Michael D. Hayden Jr. and William J. Lednum. They were caught in February 2011 trying to retrieve more than 20,000 pounds of striped bass using illegal, unmarked and unattended gill nets off the southern tip of Kent Island. Earlier, authorities charged, the men had illegally harvested more than 25,000 pounds of striped bass with a wholesale value of $66,000.

Photos: The Baltimore Sun (top); Sean Howard for Maryland Department of Natural Resources (above)

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We knew the streets of New York were wild, but with a coyote captured in Manhattan, things are a little more wild than people thought.

It had been over two weeks since Riverside Park Administrator John Herrod first sighted the coyote. Although park officials and Animal Control knew it was there, cold weather and the coyote’s elusiveness kept them from finding it. Until this past weekend.

Watch this news clip to see what happened when they finally got close enough for a capture.

For two hours, NYPD and Animal Control attempted to capture the coyote in Riverside Park in Upper Manhattan, but due to the extreme cold, the tranquilizer darts kept freezing. Trying to keep the process as humane as possible, new darts were received and the coyote was eventually cornered in a basketball court.

The coyote was hit with a tranquilizer gun around 8:30 p.m. on Saturday and taken to the Animal Care and Control on Sunday, where it was given a clean bill of health by a local veterinarian. Later that same day, the coyote captured in Manhattan, nicknamed Riva by those who interacted with her, was released in the wilderness area near the Bronx.

As populations grow, coyotes are known to cause problems in urban areas due to less and less natural habitat, and apparently New York City is no different.

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If there’s one annoying thing about hunting with a crossbow, it’s the need to discharge the cocked bow at the end of the hunt. As with muzzleloading rifles, the best way to unload is to fire away. Sportsmen can shoot their bolt into the ground, yet this often destroys an expensive arrow and broadhead. The folks at Rinehart have a simple solution that easily solves this problem: a small angled discharge target. Here are the details from Archery Business.

At the end of a hunt, discharging a crossbow into a soft target is the safest way to unload.

At the end of a hunt, discharging a crossbow into a soft target is the safest way to unload.

As a bowhunter who shoots a lot of arrows throughout the year, I’m always on the prowl for a cool target. I’ve always been drawn to the durability and self-healing foam of Rinehart’s line, and its 3D targets make for fun realistic target sessions. Both 3D and large foam targets are great leading up to a hunt, but I also feel the need to shoot my bow often while on an actual hunt.  Whether I’m camped in the mountains hunting screaming bulls or just driving down the road to my whitetail haunt, nothing builds confidence like placing a few arrows in the 10-ring before hitting the woods.   MORE

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Steelhead…it almost has a mythical ring to it. I haven’t caught a lot myself. I have had the opportunity to catch them, and they’re not only a thrilling gamefish to catch, but also fantastic table fare. To northern anglers looking for opportunities at winter fishing, steelhead also offer one of the very best games in town. One of the best places to play are within the Great Lakes and its tributaries.

Outdoor megastore Cabela’s would like to help you get in on the action. In this post from Cabela’s blog, they review the best techniques and gear needed to target steelhead from a boat or the shore.

steel_cabelaAh, winter. To some people it is a time to ski down a hill, or pull the dust cover off the snowmobile. For me, it is my favorite time of year to hit the rivers around my hometown in Michigan. Sure it is a little cold outside, and there are days when fishing just isn’t in the cards. But there are those days when the fishing is epic, and those are the days worth living for.

There are two basic types of winter river fishing. A good way to think about it is to compare camping in a tent versus camping in a motor home. I’m referring to shore/wade fishing versus using a boat.

Shore/wade fishing is a good way to take on a river, especially if you don’t have a boat or are unfamiliar with using one on a river. I don’t think winter is the time to become familiar either. If you know good spots that can be easily accessed via wading, then you’re set. If you’re short on good spots to fish, well, it is really beautiful and peaceful that time of year. As far as clothing goes, layering is the way to go with as much waterproof protection as you can muster. For waders, you’ll want neoprene and thick neoprene too. I’d even suggest you go for a solid pair of waterfowl hunting waders, as you’ll get more abrasion resistance. Remember there will be some shore ice, which can cut through weak waders like a knife. They’re pretty warm too.

Photos: Reel Action Flyfishing (top); Cabela’s (above)

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By El Marshall

Camping trips can seem harder to accomplish as life gets busier, but it doesn’t have to be. A few simple mindset adjustments can help you fit camping into even the most jam-packed schedule.

When you’re young, camping is easy. My friends and I could plan and be ready to execute a trip in a day’s notice and we did so often. The older we have all gotten, though, the fewer and farther between our trips have become. We’re now all grown up with families, jobs, and grown-up responsibility. A couple of years ago I realized that if you asked me to describe myself, “camper” was still one of the first five words I would use, but I was only dedicating time for it a few times a year. To fix that, I had to change a couple of things about my camping persona, and it has made all the difference.
These are some things that have helped me work camping back into my life, and I hope they’ll help you as well.
1. Involve the whole family.

When I was 15-22 years old, camping is what I did to get away from my family. My friends and I loaded up and hit the woods and I was not responsible for anyone except that group for the next few days. Now, I invite my whole family along. Parents, kids, cousins…we have made it an adjustment to be an experience we can all enjoy. More than one birthday party has been held at a campground so that the non-campers can still drive out and enjoy the day with us and we still get to camp.

Combining family obligations with camping desires has given us a great new avenue to celebrate milestones.

2. Embrace the weekend getaway.

There was a time when I thought a couple of nights camping just was not worth spending the time and effort on. If I could not be gone for at least four days, then what was the sense of even going? In my adult life, I have realized that it’s the quality of your experience camping, not the quantity of time that matters. So now if we spot a free weekend, it’s time to camp. We’ll have the stuff loaded and ready to leave by the time the whistle blows on Friday and we’ll be home in time for me to cook dinner on Sunday.

It’s a short trip, but it’s so worth it.

3. Get to know your local campgrounds.

I’ll admit it. My name is El and I am a recovering camping snob. I used to think that camping was only camping if you drove for hours to a secluded area and hiked five miles to get to your campsite with everything you needed on your back. I judged those who pulled their RV into the local campground and were just ready to go. I still think traditional camping is the best, but it’s also a big reason camping wasn’t fitting into my life. Now, I have been to every campground within an hour from my house, and while I’m still all about my tent, some of my best friends have RVs and I love them, too.

Campgrounds came about for camping convenience. Take full advantage of them!

bigstock-Caravan-with-a-awning-at-a-cam-733034054. Be OK with technology.

As I mentioned, I used to be a camping snob. A purist, so to speak. Camping grills, electricity and Internet connection were not allowed on my trips. I humbly admit though, I was wrong. I have finished up a project in my tent after the kids go to sleep more than once. I have a Coleman grill for some of our meals so my family does not have to spend hours cooking for a weekend getaway. I have even taken out a coffee pot. Why? Because being able to do these things frees up our time to both be able to get out at all, and to make the most of the days that we have.

If I could not finish that project, maybe we would not have been able to go out that weekend at all, and if we did not have coffee quickly the next day, I may not have been able to get out of the sleeping bag.

5. Start a tradition.

I have made some changes to my camping routine, but every once and a while I do still want to hike those five miles to the campground and stay there for a week without my computer, and so my friends and I have made it a tradition at least once a year to do a bucket-list trip. By making it a tradition, we made it a priority and we get it done, because we know it’s good for us. Now, at least once a year, we can count on going back to our roots, making memories, and having a great time.

If you follow some of these steps, you will be able to get out there and spend some time in the mountains again.