Monday, June 11, 2012

The Bowfishing Slam: Part One

Learning about what others are doing when it comes to bowhunting gets me excited. Especially when it involves something I am new at or something I want to try. Describing my lack of knowledge and experience in bowfishing was posted last week on my blog. Much of what I have learned has come from Bow Adventures e-magazine owner and editor, Bill Howard. Bill is a dedicated family man, bowhunter, and bowfisherman. Bill has also been quite an asset when it comes to bowfishing knowledge, but he also is a great all-around guy. Like most of us, he has a passion for the outdoors. Bill is on a quest to fulfill his dream of the Bowfishing Slam. He is turning this quest into a DVD series and is writing a book based on his adventures. Instead of me going on about something I recently heard of I am going to let Bill share it in his own words. 


My grandfather was the first person I knew of that was attempting the slam. I'm not sure he even knew it at the time, and I know I didn't, but over the past couple of years is when I realized that is exactly what he was doing. He had taken 5 of the 6 Big 6 African game, and by the count I can do in my head of the mounts he had on the wall, he had successfully taken over 20 of the 27 North American big game animals. Most of the North American game were Boone and Crockett. To my knowledge, he had never killed a whitetail of all things.

I have dreamt of the slam myself, and have even thought of seriously going after at least the Super 10 (Ovis), having taken whitetail, black bear, and bison thus far. I've been mountain lion hunting although we were unable to get on one during the 10-day hunt (we were always about a day behind the tracks and covered over 20 miles each day by horseback).

While looking at the feasibility of such an endeavor, I realized it is very expensive, and most people will never have that chance, even for an abbreviated goal of something like the Super 10.

Then I started researching something else. Bowfishing may be the ticket for the Any Man to achieve a hunting/outdoors accomplishment that can rival the true land based animal hunts. First of all, fishing licenses are much cheaper than hunting licenses, and in all but a few of the species you would attempt to target you would not have to worry about 'draw permits'. It can be accomplished at almost anytime of year, so it would not take away the true hunting seasons as well.

So after figuring this would be an economical goal, I had to figure what species would you go after. Most people think the North American Slam are all the big game animals. Actually this is not true. Tell me an alligator that weighs over 1,000 pounds doesn't deserve big game status. Heck, in North Carolina, wild turkeys are considered big game. This made me more comfortable in not selecting EVERY fish species. At that point, I decided to pick 10 species. For the species to qualify it would need to be one that creates its own challenges. I didn't want 10 species of fish that you bowfish for exactly the same way in exactly the same environment.

From that I decided to split the species into two groups, freshwater and saltwater. The most common target of bowfishermen is the common carp. Think of it as the whitetail of bowfishing. Another that is close on that list is the grass carp, but the two go hand in hand. Same habitat, same waters. So common carp would be the overall selection.

Next would be the alligator gar. This is the pinnacle of freshwater bowfishing. They grow huge and have a ferocious look. 

This is not the alligator gar, but a smaller cousin from North Carolina.

Then I picked the paddlefish (or spoonbill catfish as it is also called). A very interesting look in a select part of the country makes it worth the trip and the inclusion.

Then I chose the Asian carp. Actually it is a mirror carp as common and grass are also considered Asian carp. What makes this fish interesting is this is the one Chris Bracket made famous with the aerial extreme bowfishing. Upper Illinois river, boat motor trimmed high, and watch the fish fly 6 to 8 feet out of the water. Instead of adjusting for light refraction in the water, you just set the arrows flying in the air instead.

One of the most feared fish is the snakehead. Located in only a handful of places with a sustainable population, the snakehead's appearance in a body of water will cause municipalities to completely drain the water in order to eradicate it. They are an apex predator, only matched by the largemouth bass. However they are very protective of their fry, allowing there numbers to grow quickly. Also known as the frankenfish, the two primary locales are the Potomac River near the nation's capital and the canals of Miami and southern Florida. That is clearly enough to include it in the list.

Bill just harvested this stingray over the weekend.
Next I marked several saltwater species. The stingray and skate are my only 'pair' included. Habitat is similar, and even the bodies are similar. The goal to separate here is the skate migration up the brackish rivers which should be an adventure in itself.

The hammerhead has always been one of my favorite shark species. Again, go with the interested look and the natural fear man exhibits...


Want to know what the most dangerous fish is that Bill will be going after? Tune in tomorrow for the details and the info on his upcoming book! 

In the meantime, check out the video below of Bill's successful bowfishing expedition this past weekend where he was able to arrow a stingray and what looks to be the new North Carolina record flounder. Great job, Bill!

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