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.