Is Hunting A Hobby Like Any Other? (And Why I’m An Idiot….)

A couple of weeks ago, Montana Decoy published one of my articles – “Why We Hunt”. It is a manifesto of sorts, which I wrote a couple of years ago. The piece connected with thousands of hunters across the country, and it was nice to see dozens of comments from readers that appreciated the perspective.

But there are always detractors.  I have come to expect that, and welcome the challenges that are genuine and thoughtful.

Enjoying The Hunt

One commenter vehemently took issue with the topic (anonymously, of course), and railed that hunting is a hobby – like golf, or mechanics, or “sandwich eating” – and nothing more.  He went so far as to say that,

“[My] line of thinking is so idiotic, it’s embarrassing for all the rest of hunterdom.”

Is that how you see things?

I think that hunting is a hobby. It is done – in accordance with the definition of the word “hobby” – with “leisure” and “pleasure”.  Hunting doesn’t have to be, and is often better when, not taken so seriously.  But even when hunting is recreational, there’s still something deeper happening.

The solemn act of killing a living creature cannot be equated with clubbing after a ball.

Participating in the conservation of our nation’s wildlife and wild lands cannot be equated with the restoration of a muscle car.

The process of studying, pursuing, killing, processing, preserving, and preparing your own, ethically harvested meat cannot be equated with the simple act of, as the commenter said, “eating a sandwich.”

At least not for me.

Is hunting a hobby?  Yes.  But, oh, is it so much more!

Bow Setup & Tuning – Rest Install, Center-Shot, & Nocking Point

Today, in Part 3 of our bow build, we will be mounting our arrow rest, setting the rest height, center-shot, and determining our nocking point.  These small steps determine how the arrow leaves the bow upon release, so they are crucial for good downrange accuracy.

Here is a quick overview of the process…

  • Mount the rest and ensure full range of motion for drop-away launcher
  • Set the rest height to get the arrow running through the berger hole
  • Set the center-shot by measuring from the riser out to the center of the arrow shaft
  • Set the nocking point by ensuring the arrow is perpendicular to the bow string

As you see in the video, I use a “bow square” to determine my nock position and ensure the arrow is perpendicular to the string.  There are other methods of achieving this, such as using a string and arrow level set.  I recommend a bow square for beginners because it is cheaper and doesn’t require that you have a vise or press to hold the bow perfectly level.

If you use a bow square, be sure to account for the thickness of your arrow when determining the nocking point.  The “zero” on the level will be at the bottom of your shaft, so your arrow’s nock will sit above the zero line.  The good thing about using a string and arrow level is that it takes this calculation out of the equation.

As always, let me know if you have any questions!

Bow Setup & Tuning – How to Build a Draw Board

What is a “draw board”? How does it help with bow setup and tuning? And how can you easily build one?

A draw board is a device that can hold your bow in place, mechanically draw it, and safely hold it at full-draw. A draw board that is equipped with an inline scale and ruler will allow you to better understand your bow’s draw cycle and check the measurements that we discussed in Part 1, such as draw weight, holding weight, and draw length.

A draw board greatest value is that it lets you see the bow’s draw cycle and understand how your bow is performing at full-draw; more specifically, it allows you to check cam timing, cam synchronization, and draw stop positioning.

Recommended Materials to Build a Draw Board

You don’t have to add a scale, a ruler, or a turnbuckle to your draw board, but I highly recommend doing so.


Assembling the draw board is as simple as mounting the flange and post to one end of the board, and the hand-crank winch to the other end.  The winch connects to the turnbuckle, which connects to the scale, which connects to the bow.  How long you make the board, and were you mount the post and winch on that board depends on where you will be using the board and how you will be mounting it.

I would recommend leaving enough room in the front of the board so that you have plenty of clearance to mount your bow without having to remove your sight and stabilizer.  I have my draw board drilled so that I can bolt it to my workbench in my house, but I am also able to move the draw board to other locations and use clamps to secure it to almost any surface.  (I have it mounted to my deck in the video above.)

The yardstick placement should be determined by measuring from the front of the threaded post, and adding 1.75″  (Why would you do that?).  I also recommend verifying placement by comparing with a bow that’s draw length setting has been confirmed with a draw arrow.

The purpose of the turnbuckle is, as I mention in the video, to finetune the amount you draw the bow.  The hand-crank winch has fixed amounts of draw length at each step.  If, for example, you’re only 1/6″ from reaching full-draw on the bow, another step on the winch is going to pull too hard/far into your bow, whereas the turnbuckle can be twisted to perfectly draw the bow that last fraction of a measurement.  This is especially critical on bows with a limb-based draw stop.

For a great illustration and another DIY draw board plan, check out this article at Field & Stream: Step-by-Step: How to Build a D.I.Y. Draw Board for Your Compound Bow

Here are some detailed photos of the components in my draw board…

Draw Board Mounting Hardware Draw Board Scale Attachment Draw Board Turnbuckle Draw Board Winch

How To Setup & Tune A Compound Bow – Part I

Over the next couple of months I will show you, step-by-step, how I setup and tune my Elite Energy 35.

Even if you’re not interested in learning the entire process of setting up a bow from scratch, stay tuned to this series!  Along the way we will be covering topics that every bowhunter needs to know, such as installing and tying d-loops and peep sights, making arrow rest adjustments, and much more.

Getting Started

What’s the first thing you want to do when you get a brand new (or “new to you”) bow?

Shoot it, of course!

I used to be the guy that hurried to tie on a d-loop, slap on a rest and sight, and hit the range ASAP. But I discovered that a little bit of planning and patience up front will result in a much easier setup, tuning, and sight-in process in the long run. Now when I get a new bow I’m much more methodical about the process that I go through before I start sending arrows down range.

Regardless of what bow you shoot – and whether or not you’re setting up a brand new bow, setting up a bow that you purchased used, or even looking to re-tune your existing bow – the first step is the same…

Know the Numbers

A bow’s specifications – such as axle-to-axle length, brace height, peak draw weight, etc. – are more than “selling points”. These numbers tell you how the bow is meant to be configured for optimal performance.  The first step in setting up a perfectly tuned bow is making sure that all of these numbers are what they should be.

The perfect place to start with any new bow is the owner’s manual.  Make sure that your bow is within the manufacturer’s specifications.  Take the few minutes required to make these measurements, and save yourself from hours of frustration that could have occurred later on in the setup, tuning, and sighting-in process.

“The River’s Divide” DVD Giveaway and Broadcast Debut on Sportsman Channel

Donnie Vincent Hunting

There’s little that I can say about Donnie Vincent’s The River’s Divide that won’t sound cliche. Any description of this film that I attempt to write is going to include buzzwords like innovative, groundbreaking, and refreshing – all of which are true.

I would say that Donnie’s work (along with the crew at Sicmanta) is setting a new standard.  That sounds like marketing fluff, but again – it’s 100% true.

Regardless of interest in hunting, anyone can immerse themself in the story, applaud the creativity, and marvel at cinematic quality of this film.  And if you’re a hunter, you’ll just love it all the more.

The River’s Divide has been released on DVD (enter to win a copy below!), viewed on the big screen as part of the Full Draw Film Tour, and selected for multiple film festivals across the country.  Now it’s coming to millions of homes across the country with a debut on the Sportsman Channel. Watch The River’s Divide on Monday, April 7, at 7:00pm Eastern.

The River's Divide

a Rafflecopter giveaway

But that’s just the beginning!  Preview more of Donnie’s upcoming adventures to be aired on the Sportsman Channel…