Friday, May 13, 2011

Primitive vs. Modern Hunting: Tools of the Trade
Yesterday, as I was going through my morning routine of reading up on hunting related stories, I opened The Outdoor Pressroom link to the Wall Street Journal article about primitive hunting and how some of my fellow hunters believe that many of us have it too easy. You could almost hear the gears in my head come to a screeching halt as I reread the article. Really? Too easy? Obviously, these folks haven't hunted the mountains of Southern California.While it might be 'too easy' for some, for some of us it's one of the tools that keeps us adept at trying to fill our freezers. Now, I have respect for all hunters, primitive and modern, but I disagree with some of the statements made in the article. This is going to be a bit of a rant, but I get tired of hunters not supporting other hunters, and that is how this article comes across to me.

As for high-powered modern guns and pricey carbon-fiber bows? "People are tired of that," says Randy Rifenburgh, a longtime primitive hunter who goes by "Rattlin' Randy" in his hunting-instruction videos. "Technology has made it too easy for the real hunters." 

Whoa there, Randy. There are some of us 'real hunters' who prefer technology for the mere fact that we want a quick, clean kill and the best possible chance of bringing down an animal quickly. By you saying that gets my blood boiling. While that is your opinion, what makes you any more of a 'real hunter' than me? I will also say that I am far from 'tired' of shooting carbon gear. In fact, I love some of the new technology, as do many of my fellow hunting comrades. I don't doubt the fact that hunting with primitive gear is more of a challenge and can be a lot of fun, but I don't think any of this 'technology' you speak of has made it 'too easy.' Sure, it gives us an advantage, but you give the impression that those of us that hunt with a compound are flinging arrow after arrow and bringing down an animal every time we shoot. That is far from the case. Why would you sell crossbows and metal arrowheads on your site if you think technology makes it too easy? Why not offer only stick bows and flint arrowheads. Now, I support the fact that you are a hunter and hunt with a stick bow. What I don't get is why you would say something like that to make you sound so elitist.

The article also describes Mike Huston, known to many as "Hawk", and his fervor for hunting primitively (he was hunting in Texas in the article). Ah yes, Texas - the state with plenty of game, huntable ranch acreage as far as the eye can see, no-limit and no tags required (hunting license is required) for hunting hogs. There are days I dream of hunting in Texas, but I just love to hunt anywhere. Period. I followed Mike's blog, High Country Archer, for a while and I know that he is a proficient, respectable primitive hunter and an interesting writer. (His wife, Stacey, also an accomplished primitive hunter, is a fantastic wildlife photographer, as well). These two are excellent people to describe primitive hunting. I have the utmost respect for both of them and in no way do I feel they look down on any other hunter.

As I continued reading, the article touched a nerve:
Prehistoric hunts are back partly because technology has made hunting a bit of a yawner, say some of the sport's aficionados. The proliferation of gear like high-powered sniper rifles and "compound bows"—which use carbon fiber, metal wire and a set of pulleys to fling an arrow almost as fast as a bullet—took much of the sport out of hunting, they say.

Really? 'Metal wire' and 'almost as fast as a bullet'? Please correct me if I am wrong, but there haven't been many bows made, that I know of, in the last 10-20 years that utilize metal cables. Most modern compounds I know of use bow string made from a string-type material, such as 8125 or 452x. The bullet part had my mouth agape. Let's compare bullet speed vs. arrow speed, shall we? Let's use a handgun instead of a rifle for this example so we can slow down the bullet speed to a decent comparison. The .38 Special shoots a bullet at roughly 600 feet per second (fps). My compound bow, a PSE X-Force, will shoot one of my hunting arrows at around 285 fps. That's less than half the speed of a .38 Special handgun bullet. Our more modern rifle can shoot upwards of 15oo fps. I don't know about you, but I don't see where the math works. I think the article author needs to get his calculator fixed.

Then you have Wayne Pacelle, the president of the Humane Society of the United States, chiming in with half-truths, trying to pit us against one another. Surprising, no?

He says, 'he worries about both ultra-modern and ultra-primitive hunting methods. High-tech gear, he says, can give the hunter an unfair advantage over prey. On the other hand, he says "archery equipment is very problematic" since animals are sometimes injured but don't die.'

Ok, Wayne, how do you know that archery gear is problematic? I think it's more the operator of the archery tackle than the gear itself. And as far as animals being injured and not dieing, that happens with any type of hunting. It is an unfortunate part of the equation. Sometimes there are animals that are injured and do not die. Some recover strong and others do not. We owe it to the animal to make a quick, clean kill and to follow up on our shots. I think that being human gives us an advantage over hunting some animals, like a deer or a rabbit. Other animals, such as a mountain lion, or bear puts us on more of a level playing field with the so-called 'prey'. Pit me against a bear with no weapon and I will no doubt be the weaker prey. Put a bow and arrow in my hands and it evens out the score a bit, BUT I still have to make the clean, ethical shot and I'd still be the weaker animal.

This article just rubbed me the wrong way and I wish hunters would stand up and support their fellow hunters. No hunter is any better than another, no matter what the weapon used. I am just as much a 'real hunter' as the next guy or girl. While I disagree with what was said by Randy, I would still stand beside him as a hunter and a fellow outdoorsman. He with his stick bow and me with my aluminum, carbon-arrow flinging machine with training wheels.


  1. These discussions pop up every few years or so....they tend to be - bu not always - driven by "forum hunters" who know everything!

    Hunt primative or new style - we have that freedom!!

  2. I love how stupid their article sounded.

    But I am sure glad that I tagged out completely with all of my new technology, it was almost TOO easy!

    Oh wait.. that's not right. My deer got away this year, no turkey and a duck... oh yeah hunting is way to easy nowadays.


  3. First of all let me start by saying.. the writer also referred to me as a 'Game Keeper'! Oh boy! I am a Ranch and Wildlife Manager for a ranch in Texas! Nothing special except for a passion for primitive archery. I also use other means for taking fish and hogs. I do not have any disrespect for any weapon that any of my fellow hunters choose. I have lots of friends and we all use different methods to hunt. Bottom line is we are all hunter, gatherers! We must keep 'hunting' alive using all means! We must pass our knowledge and morals of hunting, rather it be primitive or new technology, to the next generation. Mike Hawk Huston, and his wife Stacey, are very dear friends and they are wonderful, wonderful people. Primitive is just the type people we are by choice. It's our heritage. Does not make me a better or worse hunter than any other hunter. By NO means do I disrespect any fellow hunter or the method they freely choose to take their game. My final point.. we are ALL hunter, gatherers for our families. It takes the same skills to harvest any animal, by using your own weapon of choice. Knowledge of the game you are hunting and knowledge of the weapon you are using is the key to success. In the end, We are all fellow hunter, gatherers! We all have a passion for taking game! Freely choosing our own methods! Hunting is what need to be passed on to our future hunter, gatherers for them to pass on! Happy Hunting to ALL my fellow hunters!
    Randy Rifenburgh 'aka' Rattlin' Randy

  4. As long as hunters respect each other, and the laws and regulations of the state they are hunting in, I respect them. Be mindful of your own safety and others, and try to minimize the injured game that get away. Remember that united we stand, divided we fall.