Being a bow hunter is a little like being in a club. Bow hunters may have completely different political views. But when it comes to bow hunting, they have a connection like none other.

Being a bow hunter is a little like being in a club. Bow hunters may have completely different political views. One may like Michigan and one may like Ohio State. But when it comes to bow hunting, they have a connection like none other.

Yes, gun hunters also get up early on crisp fall mornings. They both send out a rhythmic crunchy cadence of their steps through the fall leaves as they walk to their stand. Both understand the beauty of the sunrise and how the woods literally come alive from the dark once the sun breaks the horizon. Bow hunters, however, have to get close to their prey.

My son, Gabe, recently joined the club. Two years ago, he was fortunate to harvest a nice seven-point buck during the youth hunt. He was using a shotgun and made a perfect shot.

Following his success, I asked him to go gun hunting several more times and he declined to use a gun. He joined me with his bow in hand. He told me that he wanted to take a deer with his bow and he wasn’t interested in gun hunting until he did.

I thought that was terrific and supported his effort. He spent the following season pursuing deer with his bow and found the realities of the challenge. He missed the only shot he had all season at a doe. He didn’t take a deer that season, which was a little disappointing for him, but I felt like it was a good lesson.

The simple truth is that hunting is more challenging with a bow. Bow hunters try to get their prey in a clean shot path at less than 30 yards. Yes, some are skilled to shoot well beyond this distance, but “the closer the better” is the general rule.

This means bow hunters get to see a lot of quarry out of range. Many of the deer a bow hunter sees could easily be killed with a gun, but are significantly out of bow range, which highlights the challenge. Sometimes we get to see huge deer with very large and attractive antlers, and yet they are out of range.

This can be very frustrating and is the difference between bow hunting and gun hunting. Both are fun and exciting; both can feed the family and friends. But bow hunters have to work a little harder to find success.

He did it. This year, during the youth hunt in late September, my son took his first deer with his bow. What was best for me about his success is that I was with him in a “buddy” tree stand built for two. I got to witness the event just like his first deer harvest two years before.

A friend had invited Gabe to use this stand during the youth hunt and he eagerly accepted. Right at shooting light we saw the young five-point buck appear at the field’s edge approximately 75 yards in front of us. He was directly upwind, which is a very good thing.

Gabe stood up very slowly and grabbed his bow from the hook placed on the branch above his head. We watched the buck slowly move closer and closer when finally he was 35 yards from the stand. As he approached some brush that would put him out of range, Gabe drew back his bow and I let out a doe bleat sound, freezing the buck in his tracks. Gabe let the arrow fly and placed it perfectly behind the buck’s shoulder.

The buck expired very quickly and in sight. We took photos and sent them out to friends and family letting them know about his success. One of my friends sent a reply that said, “Welcome to the club. Welcome to the addiction.”

He’s gone from a bow hunter to successful bow hunter. He understands what it’s like to try and fail at bow hunting. He learned how his perseverance has paid off with success. Our freezer is full and he has joined the club.

Paul Heidbreder is the publisher of The Daily Telegram.