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What Is the Most Difficult Animal to Bowhunt?

Deer, elk, sheep, grizzlies, goats — any animal can be challenging to bowhunt, but what’s the toughest species to arrow?

Coues deer can be so elusive they’ve been dubbed the “Grey Ghost,” while grizzlies can be almost completely nocturnal. Spotting and stalking elk in the backcountry can require months of physical preparation, and just getting within archery range of a mountain goat could be putting your life at risk.

Tagging a doe might not be too difficult, but even getting a shot at a trophy whitetail can be a once-in-a-lifetime event for some. So we’ll focus on bowhunting mature males here.

The tactics you use also play a major role in the level of difficulty. Sneaking up on a pronghorn necessitates stealth, favorable conditions, and maybe even a little luck, but arrowing one from a blind by a watering hole is measurably more feasible. 

Some species are highly intelligent, some possess incredible senses, some are exceptionally wary, and some are nearly unreachable.

Different types of hunting demand different types of toughness — physical, mental, or some combination of the two — as well as skill, and it’s all relative. There’s no consensus on the hardest hunt because what’s mind-numbing to one bowhunter is a breeze to the next.

Enduring extreme weather conditions, trekking treacherous terrain, logging countless miles at high altitude, sitting motionless from sun up to sun down — choose your hard.

Most diehard deer hunters will tell you their accomplishments take the cake. Elk hunters will wax on about their heroic efforts to get into elk shape and pack out a bull. And sheep hunters will claim their pursuits as the pinnacle of hunting.

The challenge is the draw, and it’s a point of pride for many bowhunters.

But to do it right, it’s all hard. And until you’ve done it all, it’s impossible to even know what would be most difficult — for you.

author avatar
The Bow Bully
The Bow Bully discusses a variety of archery topics and offers tips, advice and the occasional nudge to make you a better bowhunter. With years of experience, and an attitude to match, you'll find the Bully has something to offer both beginners and seasoned hunters.

8 thoughts on “What Is the Most Difficult Animal to Bowhunt?”

  1. I have admitted I am not a trophy hunter, and hunting in general is a personal form of relaxation for me.

    I have hunted white tail, and mule deer, (never heard of the Coues deer) I have hunted Elk, and I have seen 2 grizzlies in the wild (one was a lot closer than I wanted him to be) but I have not HUNTED a bear before..

    Bow hunting is something I did pursue for years growing up, but I eventually decided I like shooting with a bow more than hunting with a bow. So I went down the rabbit hole of 3D competition for a few years.

    When hunting gets easy, ( if it is ever easy) I put down the long guns, and start hunting with a pistol.
    One of the hardest animals for me to hunt is a cat squirrel ( a gray squirrel). they are nervous and fidgety, .
    Fox squirrels will lay down on a limb and go to sleep for hours if they think you have not seen them. But the cat squirrel is the polar opposite,

    The cat squirrel refuses to sit in one place more than a few seconds before they decide they have to be in another place NOW..

    And trying to hit a rat sized target at 25 yards with a Ruger MK4 .22 pistol while the animal its bounding through heavy vegetation and tree limbs at full speed is a challenge unto itself.


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