When it comes to procuring meat to feed you or your family, hunting is one of the more ethical approaches. When done responsibly, hunting is useful for keeping local wildlife populations in check. Hunting also means you know for certain that the animal you catch has had a chance at living a free and wild life. Far away from some of the outright horrific conditions present in modern factory farms.

But not everyone wants to hunt with a firearm. This could be for a multitude of reasons. For starters – firearms are expensive. Especially if you do everything above-board (which we strongly recommend you do).

Perhaps the legality of firearms in your area will make it particularly difficult for you to procure one without a solid reason.

Maybe you just have an aversion to loud noises, or simply don’t wish to own a firearm. Whatever your reason, that doesn’t mean you’re prohibited from hunting.

Provided it’s legal in your local region, bow hunting may be a great alternative. Many people have reservations about bow hunting. Some absolutely abhor it, whilst others find it to be the most thrilling method of hunting available.

If you’ve landed here, chances are it has peaked your interest. You may have a couple of questions that need answered first, though.

Surely you can’t just tie a string on a stick and shoot some sharpened wood at animals and legally call it hunting, right? You’re absolutely correct. Many regions that support the use of bow hunting can have pretty stringent regulations around the actual bows used to hunt. Draw strength is a huge factor in determining the legality of your equipment. So is the size of your bow.

Interested in the specifics? We have a complete list further down in the article.

Best Compound Bows For Hunting

Predator Archery Raptor Compound Hunting Bow Kit

This is a fairly solid piece of kit. It’s an incredibly well engineered compound bow that can operate with a draw weight between 30-70lbs. When this bow is operated at the maximum capacity, you can expect to be able to throw arrows downrange at a speed of up to 315 feet per second. The high cap on draw weight means that you’re unlikely to encounter issues with draw weight requirements in any region that utilizes them. (see bottom of article for more info on this).

It comes with its own sight, which is 5-pinned and illuminated to allow you to get a clearer line of sight on your target. The pins are stacked horizontally to allow for distance compensation. It also has a bubble level integrated into this sight to allow you to appropriately judge the angle of your shot.

On top of coming with it’s own sight, this kit also includes a quiver that can hold 4 arrows. There’s also a string stop, important allen wrenches you will need for bow adjustments and they’ve even thrown in a paper target set for you to practice with. The provided wrenches allow you to make adjustments without a bow press.

The adjustable draw length allows for a great deal of variety in how you utilize this bow, and also allows you to adhere to more niche regulations if you have to.

The fiberglass limbs are all manufactured in the United States to ensure maximum product durability and quality.

Bear Archery Cruzer Compound Hunting Bow

This is a great quality compound bow for adults. Which is why it’s not surprising that it’s among the most popular of hunting bows out on the market. It’s available in both a right-handed and left-handed variant. It also comes with a pretty big variety of colors to choose from. From generic ‘black’ and ‘timber’ variants through to more eye catching luminous green and pink variations.

The draw length can be adjusted between 12″ and 30″, meaning you can get a draw weight of anywhere between 5lbs and 70lbs. This means it’s actually an ideal bow for novice users as well as enthusiasts.

It’s lightweight too, weighing in at only 3lbs. Drawing further attention to the fact that this bow is ideal for people with various levels of expertise.

Adjustments can be made with an allen wrench, eliminating the need for a bow press and allowing you to make changes on the fly.

At maximum capacity, you can expect to be able to throw arrows downrange at 315 feet per second.

This bow also features an ergonomic grip design, engineered specifically to get rid of torque and as such increase your overall accuracy.

It’s provided on a “ready to hunt” basis, with the sight, whisker biscuit, peep sight, quiver and more already pre-installed. Meaning you can start hunting with this thing the second you remove it from its original packaging.

Diamond Archery Infinite Pro Bow Package

This is another high quality, adjustable and powerful compound bow. It’s by a company called diamond archery who are fairly well respected for putting out consistently high quality archery equipment.

This particular compound bow has a draw length which can vary between 13 and 31 inches, meaning the draw weight can extend up to 70lbs. This makes it ideal for hunting big and small game alike, and it can even be used for bow-fishing.

At maximum capacity, it is realistic to see an arrow being propelled at around 310 feet per second, which is more than enough to land a shot on any kind of prey you’re stalking.

It comes with an integrated stabilizer to enhance the accuracy of your shots, just remember to check out local regulations surrounding mechanical enhancements to your hunting bows.

It comes in three available colors: black, mossy oak and pink blaze.

The limb bolt is designed to give you an indicator of what setting it’s adjusted to, with maximum and minimum turning points. This will allow you to quickly assess the draw weight of your bow and making adjustments on the fly.

The easy adjust system present here mean that this is a pretty popular bow for newcomers. Despite this, more experienced users could still get some fair usage out of this.

Best Longbows/Recurve Bows For Hunting

If you’re a fan of more traditional methods of hunting, you might opt for a longbow. The only real drawback (pardon the pun) to operating a longbow for hunting is that some states have higher draw weight requirements on them versus their compound counterparts.

SAS Gravity 64″ Hunting Longbow

This is a beautiful longbow that shoots just about as well as it looks. It’s available in right and left-handed variants, and the draw weight is totally up to you too. From 25lbs right through to 50lbs. Just take into consideration what type of game you’re actually going to be hunting and what your local laws say before you make a purchasing decision.

This particular longbow is manufactured from a combination of maple and fiberglass, giving it a traditional feel with all of the enhanced durability of a modern bow.

Samick Sage Takedown Bow

This is one of the best selling non-compound hunting bows on the net. The samick sage takedown bow comes manufactured with hard, imported maple and black fiberglass. This ensures the bow remains sturdy but retains the elegance of a conventional bow.

It’s also available with a huge variety of draw weights, from 25lbs through to 60. Meaning you can pick the appropriate variant for your desired game and region of hunting.

It also comes in both right and left-handed variants. It’s relatively modular too, you can purchase limbs separately to get a weight that’s appropriate too.

Toparchery Traditional Recurve Bow

This 53″ recurve horsebow is totally handmade. Despite this, you can expect a consistently high quality product with each purchase. The limbs are manufactured from a sturdy, fiberglass material, to discourage warping and degradation over time. It features a draw weight of 30-50 pounds. Meaning it should be more than adequate for hunting across various states and Providences.

This bow honestly functions a bit better as a beginners bow. I would discourage you from using it if you’re a veteran of traditional hunting methods – you’ll likely be using it much more frequently than it was intended to be used as.

With that being said, if you’re looking for a beautiful, traditional style handmade bow that you can take hunting a few times, this is the one for you.

Best Crossbows For Hunting

CentrePoint AXCS185CK

This is an incredibly high powered hunting crossbow, featuring an integrated scope and a mechanism that allows it to propel bolts well over 370 feet per second. The drawing mechanism allows for a draw weight totaling 185 pounds. The stock is 100% adjustable which means it can be appropriately adjusted to your shoulders in to guarantee comfort and accuracy. String suppression mechanisms are built into this device also, these inhibit the ability of the strings to vibrate during release – enhancing the accuracy of your shot. The lightweight aluminium it has been manufactured with allows for easy transport whilst still guaranteeing a great deal of durability.

It comes with a limited warranty that will last for 5 years – if you find any kind of mechanical faults in your crossbow this can be a real life saver. It also comes with three carbon arrows that are 20 inches in length. A quiver is also provided.

Overall this is a pretty solid choice if you’re looking into getting into crossbow hunting, just make sure to double check legislation and local bylaws before making a purchase.

Barnett Whitetail Hunter

This is another outstanding crossbow with a tremendous amount of power behind it. The Barnett whitetail hunter can throw arrows at a speed of 375 feet per second. It’s been constructed out of a rigid fiberglass material to ensure that it’s incredibly rugged but still remains lightweight enough to not be unruly.

It has some pretty useful integrated safety features also, utilizing a soft bristle retainer for your arrows means that the device can prevent against dryfiring. Dry firing (firing without an arrow loaded properly) can result in personal injury and even damage the structural integrity of some bows. As such, having a mechanism to prevent this is a godsend for many hunters – skilled or unskilled.

This particular crossbow comes packaged in a “ready to hunt” manner, meaning that you can effectively take it straight out the packaging and go hunting with it. There’s even a “premium” model available which comes with scope illumination. Particularly useful if you’re planning on hunting in lower light conditions.

Barnett Recruit Recurve Crossbow

This is for fans of the more traditional, recurve style crossbow designs. If you’re looking for a recurve crossbow but you’re unhappy with the idea of sacrificing power or quality, you’re in for a treat. Barnett have been world leaders in the manufacturing and productioning of high quality crossbows since the early 1960s. This particular variant can launch projectiles at around 245 feet per second, which isn’t bad for a recurve bow at all. It also comes provided with an integrated sight, which features 4x magnification with a lens diameter of 32mm. Integrated safety features include a guard that protects against dry firing. There’s also finger reminders on the scope and the foregrip has been extended away from the body to ensure your hands are kept at a safe distance from the firing mechanism.

Bow Hunting Legality – What To Know

Below is the current list of states to this date which don’t seem to have many regulations surrounding draw weight or bow size. With that being said, this is subject to change at any time. As a general rule, an absolute minimum of 35lbs draw weight will probably keep you safe in any of these states. Personally, I would say that a draw weight of 40 or more will greatly increase the variety of places in which you can legally hunt. As some states are more stringent with their regulations than others.

States With Minimal Size/Weight Restrictions

  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • Georgia
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Michigan
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • New Mexico
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • West Virginia
  • Vermont
  • Virginia

States With Draw Weight/Size Requirements

Alaska

The draw weight in this state is dependent on the size of the game you’re planning on hunting. For example, if you’re hunting wolves, black bears or wolverines, you’ll only need a draw weight of around 40 pounds. If you’re hunting black bears and moose, you’ll need a draw weight of about 50 pounds. Arrows must be a minimum of 20″ in length. They must also be tipped using a broad head tip. This is presumably to ensure you have a reasonable chance at actually killing the animal you’re hunting. Instead of leaving it gravely injured.

Arkansas

Bows must meet the minimum requirement of a 40lb draw weight.

California

The regulations surrounding bow hunting are very unclear here. They border on ridiculous – no real draw weight is mentioned, just the requirement that your bow must be able to launch an arrow 130 yards.

I would go with a 40lb draw weight bow just to be safe. Although honestly the weight of your arrows would probably be just as much of a determining factor in this instance.

Colorado

This state has a minimum draw weight requirement of about 35lbs. Autoloaders and other fancy mechanical advantages are not allowed.

Connecticut

You may hunt deer or turkey with a bow with a draw weight of no less than 40 pounds. Recurve, Compound, Long and even Crossbows are allowed.

Delaware

35lbs draw weight is the absolute minimum in delaware. Otherwise bow hunting is permitted.

Florida

Much like Delaware, the regulations are minimal with the exception of the draw weight. The draw weight must also be a minimum of 35lbs in this state.

Hawaii

Long bows must have a minimum draw weight of 40lbs and tension at a 28″ draw. Recurve bows must have a minimum of 35lbs and compound bows must have a minimum of 30lbs.

Idaho

minimum draw weight of 40 lbs. Maximum of 150.

Illinois

Minimum draw weight of 40lbs. 20 inch minimum arrow length.

Indiana

Minimum draw weight of 35lbs.

Maine

Minimum draw weight of 35lbs.

Maryland

Minimum draw weight of only 30lbs.

Massachusetts

Must have a minimum draw weight of 40lbs.

Minnesota

Minimum draw weight of 30lbs.

Nebraska

Here, the minimum draw weight is allegedly 125lbs. You can, however, hunt via thrown spear.

Nevada

Much like California, the bow hunting regulations are fairly antiquated here. Pick a 40lb bow at a minimum to be safe.

New Hampshire

Minimum draw weight is 40lbs. You must also have your name and original home address on each one of your arrows.

New Jersey

35lbs draw weight minimum for bows. 75lbs for crossbows.

New York

35lbs minimum draw weight.

North Carolina

Recurve/Longbows with a minimum pull of 40lbs. Compounds with a minimum pull of 35lbs. Crossbows with a minimum of 100.

North Dakota

Draw weights vary based on game. Elk/moose must be hunted with a minimum of 50lbs. The minimum drops to 35 if you’re only hunting deer. Sharp metal broadhead arrows are mandatory. Minimum arrow length of 24 inches.

Ohio

No minimum draw weight but stock must be more than 25 inches in length.

Oklahoma

Compound bows have a minimum draw weight of 30lbs. Recurve and longbows must be 40lbs.

Oregon

Another state which differentiates draw weight based on game size. Elk must be hunted with a minimum of 50lbs in draw weight. Anything apart from elk has a 40lb minimum.

Other Common Questions

I’ve Heard Bow Hunting Is Unethical, Is That True?

Not really. Many people still have pretty antiquated views on bow hunting because they’re unaware of how powerful modern compound bows can actually be. Many people also subscribe to the idea that bow hunting is unethical because it “takes multiple arrows” to kill an animal. This is simply not true.

The reality of the situation is that you will almost only ever get to land one shot on animal before it makes a break for it. You won’t get some sort of unique opportunity to fire 6 individual shots at an animal.

Furthermore, if you hit an animal in a non-vital area with an arrow and it escapes, it likely his much better chances of survival than animals that have been tagged with a shotgun or rifle.

When it comes to ethics, there’s a lot of room for debate, but many people would agree that it’s better for an animal to have lived a life of relative peace in the wilderness rather than have been brought up in abhorrent factory farming conditions.

What Can You Bow Hunt?

This really depends on the state you’re in and the draw weight of your bow, but there’s a huge variety of game out there. Heavier duty bows are fit for purpose for hunting elk and certain types of bear. Other bows are perfectly fine for hunting deer, rabbits, hogs and various other types of smaller game.

Is It Harder To Hunt With A Bow?

It is indeed. But that’s a huge part of why people love bow hunting so much. Rifles allow you to land shots from much further down range, as such you don’t need to get anywhere near as close. You have to be much better at tracking and stalking to get close to a deer with a bow and arrow. They spook very easily as they are prey animals.

Can You Open-Carry A Bow And Arrow?

Generally speaking, bows aren’t really heavily distinguished in a lot of modern legal literature. For obvious reasons. With that being said, generally any region that allows you to open carry a firearm is going to allow you to open carry a bow. Just be weary of city bylaws that might prohibit you taking them into specific places such as public parks. Also be weary of the strange looks you’ll probably get.

Can A Bulletproof Vest Stop A Bow And Arrow?

This honestly depends on the specific type of vest you’re referring to. Many bulletproof vests are designed to shatter on impact to absorb the kinetic energy of a bullet. This is because bullets operate on blunt force trauma alone. As a result of this, some types of bullet proof vest can actually be stabbed clean through with a sharp object such as a knife or an arrow.

However, some bulletproof vests are also stab resistant. Some plate carriers are also designed to be worn over the top of a smaller, stab proof vest, too.

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