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Small Game Bowhunting: Don’t Overlook the Challenge!

While most bowhunters strictly pursue whitetails from 20 feet up or spot and stalk elk, chasing small game with stick and string is a great way to extend your hunting season and gain some valuable archery practice.

Squirrels, rabbits, birds, and even frogs — with a long list of possible prey, there’s something to hunt virtually any time of year. 

Aiming for these small moving targets will make you a better bowhunter, and you won’t have to worry about chomping down on a pellet when eating your archery kill.

Small Game Gear

Using the same setup for small game as you use for big game can help you get more comfortable and proficient shooting. 

But if you’re choosing a rig specifically for small game hunting, consider a traditional bow over a compound. While recurves and longbows aren’t quite as fast or accurate at longer ranges, they’re lightweight, less likely to wreck your arrows on missed shots, and allow you to get off quick shots with instinctive shooting.

Either way, you’ll have a blast with a bow.

If you go with a traditional bow, flu-flu arrows are great for shooting at close-range small game and will make it easier to locate them following a miss. Depending on the animal, you can hunt with blunts or a broadhead specifically designed for small game. But beyond that, the necessary gear for bowhunting small game is minimal.

Even Fred Bear enjoyed hunting small game with traditional tackle and praised it as a skill-building yet humbling hobby.

“The additional challenge of small game besides actually hitting the little rascals is sneaking up on them. I have often been humiliated by animals with a brain the size of a marble,” he said. “The great thing about being an avid small game hunter is that it makes you a more successful medium and large game hunter.” If it’s good enough for the father of modern bowhunting, it’s good enough for me.

6 thoughts on “Small Game Bowhunting: Don’t Overlook the Challenge!”

  1. A former neighbor was pretty skilled at hunting iguanas on his property using a traditional bow; do recall one time he was a little put out because one of the arrows broke – but he nailed his prey. Stuff happens! He grew up bow-hunting in S Africa; no doubt the pursuit of the fast and wary “iggys” helped him stay in shooting shape.

  2. My teen years were spent in a small town (300 people maybe). We had the school baseball field on the outer edge of town. It was overrun with 13 lined ground squirrels. I could shoot at them for hours, because I missed so many shots. It sure was fun. Still enjoy taking out a rabbit or two each fall. Squirrels are a different story. If you think a deer can jump the string, you ain’t seen nuthin until you let one fly at a grey.

  3. The Bow Bully,
    This report brings back memories of trying to hunt squirrels with my first bow ever, a stick bow with about a 30-pound pull. My Dad found it up in Grandma’s attic…God alone knows how long it had been up there. It had a leather wrapped grip, but it was plain wood, no sinew backing or anything like that. Anyway, I had shot it a bunch in the basement, and in the backyard; but it did not survive it’s first small game hunt; as I went to string her, the lower limb cracked. I still blame myself; I was young and dumb; if I had oiled that bow, or taken it to an archery shot for advice, I might still be shooting it today.
    Take care & keep up the good work,

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