Compound Bow Choice for Archery Deer Hunting

So KM sends me an e-mail after my “deer season approaches” post asking what sort of bow I use and whether or not it’s any good. KM, it seems, is an Aussie and wants to purchase a bow before the Australian government makes them start registering bows (said in sarcasm . . I hope). Rather than reply in an e-mail, why not turn the response into a post?

Let me preface by saying that I’m no bow expert. Dragon has more expertise in this area than I do, but who would I be not to answer a SHTFblog fan’s request? . . . . That’s a question . . . . . OK, I’d be one big fat jerk, that’s what I’d be. So I’ll do my best to help this chap out. Perhaps Dragon will offer his opinion.

I use a PSE Litespeed bow. Don’t look for it in their catalog, though. You won’t find it. This bow was specially designed (so I understand) for an association of archery stores. Don’t let that make you think it’s something extra special in PSE land, though. It’s not. I didn’t really know all that much when I went bow shopping, and I still consider myself a novice. One gent I know that has shot more deer with a bow than I’ll ever dream of told me to go to friggin’ Wal-Fart and buy one, because otherwise I’ll spend too much, and you don’t need anything hoity-toity. I didn’t quite buy that philosophy, though. You need to be measured for your bow, and the thought of some underpaid, under-insured Wal-Fart chump (sorry if you work there) answering all of my compound bow questions – not to mention measuring me up – wasn’t all that comforting. So I went to a local shop and probably paid a bit more than I would have if I’d known more about what I was doing and I’d done some scouting around for the best deal. Here:


PSE makes a decent bow. It’s not the best, but it’s certainly not junk. For me, and my limited knowledge, it seemed like the brand whose products are the best for the money, where going anything “higher” would offer minimal extra performance (that I’d likely never notice) for more money.

It’s a 29″ bow. A more compact bow is great if you’re in a tree stand or in a blind, but a shorter bow requires a steadier hand. If you’re objective is to just fire away in the back yard without taking game in tight locations, a longer bow might be your best bet. The bow has a 60# draw, meaning it goes UP TO 60 pounds (I think it actually goes up to less than 60 even though it says 60), but it’s set at quite a bit less. People are fond of saying you don’t need to set your bow draw high, but then they go and do it anyway. I’ve kept my draw low, no sense to go higher in my view, not when you have arrow tips like these:


Trust me, it’s not going to take much power for that thing to pass through a deer. You gotta be careful just screwing them on, because they’re freakin’ razor blades. I chose that particular tip, because the weight of the tip is the same as the target tips. Translation: practice with target tips, screw on hunting tips – little difference in where the arrow lands. They were $30 bucks for 3 tips – not cheap, but you really only use them when you’re plugging game, so they’ll last a long time.

The black rubber thing sticking out from my bow (toward the bottom of the pic) is a bow stabilizer. It reduces vibration of the bow. I use a sight that’s nothing way too fancy (don’t remember its name) and a “whisper biscuit” arrow rest. I like it because I can set the arrow in there and it holds. When I hunt with a bow (not that I’ve done it much) I can hunt with the arrow notched. The downside of the whisper biscuit is that, I find, it’s a tad bit noisy on the draw back. Too noisy if you’re close to a deer, where you’ll need to be in the first place. I went to the local shop the other day with the intention of replacing it until I saw the price of arrow rests – frig replacing it! They were like 70 bucks and up. Fortunately the cashier lady told me that (so she’s been told) I can spray it with some silicone and that’ll remove the noise. I’ll have to try this before the season starts. Silicone spray will certainly cost less than replacing it. Besides, like I said, the whisper biscuit holds the arrow real nice like.

At the right of that pic, in the middle slightly cut in half by the picture, is a 3 arrow “Kwikee” quiver that attaches to the bow. Anything more than 3 arrows just adds unnecessary weight when hunting. Besides, how many freakin’ arrows do you need for a deer? Hell, I rarely even attach the quiver.

On the left side of the pic, also cut in half by the pic, is my mechanical release. Nothing too fancy there, I don’t remember the brand – doesn’t matter. They’re all similar more or less. Some wimps will buy forearm protection, because you’ll inevitably strike your forearm with the string upon release and it’ll hurt like a bitch. I didn’t buy one, because I learned that lesson years ago when I had a child’s compound bow. You’ll learn the position of your elbow is the key. Turn your elbow – sort of – and it’ll be out of the way. You’ll see what I mean when a bow is in your hands, and when it’s in your hands, don’t GRIP the bow, meaning don’t hold it tight. The bow should rest against the palm of your hand on the draw, and your fingers should be relaxed. If you’re gripping it you’ll actually get reduced accuracy. Speaking of accuracy, here is my cheap, beat up target:


I must be missing something, but when I was growing up I remember my neighbor had a stack of hay bales he used as a backstop. I can’t image how that would work now, though. I’d think the arrow would pass right through the bales. *shrug* Dunno!

Anyway, that’s about all I know on this subject. I’m still a novice. Maine passed a law several years back where people can now use crossbows for hunting. If I was doing this over again maybe I would’ve gone with a crossbow, but then – maybe not. Hope that helps.

– Ranger Man

BTW: This Aussie dude also told me a bit about HIS SHTF preps. Take it away, Aussie:

Basically SHTF preps in my area are the same as in your area, but more expensive, and guns need to be registered (and no semi-auto high centrefire weapons).

Also lots of things are more difficult to get your hands on (such as food grade buckets, cheap solar battery chargers etc.)

My preps are basically a 50 litre garbage bin (non food grade, so everything in it is kept in their packets) full of pasta/rice/flour/sugar etc, a pushbike that i use frequently, a few guns, first aid kit coupled with basic medical know how and basic tools (leatherman, torch, folding knife, solar battery charger, uhf radios and the likes).

I cant really do much at the moment as i am at University, so i can only have what i can fit in a tiny little room (the guns of course have to be kept at home 150km away..) and i am not especially “paranoid”, but you know, i think i have a preparedness level in the top 10% or so, which gives me the ability to help others when they step on a broken bottle, or their torch batteries have gone flat and they want to get something out of their car at night. (most of my “prep gear” gets used regularly for things such as this, though i have experienced a few significant disasters in my life, one of them state wide (the esso gas plant explosion 1998) and a few bushfires (one that cut our power for 3 weeks).

Obviously having my guns registered doesn’t help if some day the government gets a bit… communist.. and decides to take them off me, but other than that you can prep reasonably well “in my area”.

10 comments… add one
  • Kipper (KM) August 22, 2008, 5:28 am

    Thanks for the answer ranger man :)

  • guiding_guardian August 22, 2008, 7:10 am

    Grandeous info on bow’s, I may look into getting a recurve, for simplicty, could someone add some expertise on cross bow’s? I see where wally-world in my area has begun to sell them, now that they took their rifle rack’s down…

  • JimShyWolf August 23, 2008, 10:03 pm

    Howdy, Ranger Man- hooyah from one Ranger to another… comment on bow selection. I do like the PSE equipment: very good quality for a lowend price. (I’m shooting a twenty-year old Bear, however, in compound, and a thiry year old Bear takedown- which is my bow of choice for every situation.)
    So far as crossbows are concerned- a friend has one that’s drawing about 200 pounds weight, yet has less flight distance than my 60 pound Bear TD. However- it’s much easier to aim. (I am an ‘instinct shooter’, except for my compound.) Admitted, a compound has faster flight, more speed than a longbow or recurve, but also has the drawbacks of cams (and more noise) than the latter.
    In keeping an arrow on your string, rather than using the arrow holding unit, try the Bjorn nocks- they are great, pinching the string just enough to keep the arrow on while sitting in a stand. (For stalking, they probably work as well though I tend to keep my fingers ‘glued’ to the arrow-string.)
    IMO, mechanical releases are great- so long as you have it and it works okay. My preference is a ‘glove’, where three fingers are covered by the leather tabs (not a tab release, but a partial glove). To my thinking, this makes more sense from a survival standpoint since nearly any glose will suffice and to practice thus makes sense, to me.
    You’re certainly right about the arm-guard: not really necessary, but is very helpful while wearing cammies/ghillie suit at keeping the ‘crap’ away from the string, so not really a bad idea to have one.
    Another problem I have- and this is strictly me, since others have told me I’m crazy- but I prefer a back quiver. LOL- yes, I DO carry nearly two dozen arrows at a time, but I have a reason for this but it’s a lonnnnnnggg story I’ll blog one day. Maybe (don’t want people thinking “this guy’s crazy!”). Laffin hard as I write, remembering the time…was too funnnyyyy.
    Also, there are two methods of holding the bow- neither is a ‘grip’ or ‘grasp’, but a ‘resting spot’.
    One is with the ‘high wrist’, where the wrist and forearm are held straight, the bow pushing (during the draw) against the web of the hand. The other, which you appear to use, is the ‘low wrist’, where the bow pushes against the palm/heel of the hand. This is the method I prefer (but again, opinions are…)
    I find I’m getting long-winded usual…so I’ll close with the silicone idea: it works on the wheels, as well. However, if you’re hunting White tails, be extremely cautious of residual scent cuz their noses are only slightly better than ther hearing- and they can hear you sneeze from home as you get in the car.
    Thanks for the post- it’s refreshing to find another who uses a bow, even for SHTF scenarios.

  • Chefbear58 December 8, 2010, 10:36 pm

    JimShyWolf, Awesome to hear I’m not the only one in “survivalist land” that uses a Bear! I have 2, a re-curve “little Bear” that I have been using since I was 6, and a Bear compound I bought 3 years ago. The re-curve is MUCH quieter than the compound. I do have to say I like the arm guard when I am shooting the re-curve, not needed when using the compound. I also like the leather “finger-glove” when shooting the re-curve, compound, I prefer the trigger. But whatever a person is more comfortable with is the best for them.

    Rangerman, good post, lots of useful information. I do have to disagree on one point, I went to Gander Mtn. and had my Fred Bear compound custom fitted to me, got arrow rest, sight, silencers, peep sight, Plano case and 12 carbon composite 100gr arrows for $400. It is possible to get a geed deal if you shop around. Personally I like the Muzzy broadheads similar to the ones you have pictured, they seem to hold an edge better than most I have used.

    One distinct advantage of having a bow in the hands of an experienced person in a SHTF situation, is that they can take a shot and be nearly silent. There is also the advantage of easy repeat shots, with experience, as proven by several of the plains tribes in the “wild west”. Most of these tribes had access to very good firearms for the day (like the Winchester lever action), but decided to stick with the bow. While not all of us are as concerned with defense as I tend to be (I lived in Panama in 1989, look it up, live through that and you would be the same way!) , a bow can be a great tool for defense. How many of us look into the trees as we walk through the woods, how many folks pay attention to their surroundings? It would be east to find a choke-point (in my area) to station an archer to prevent access by the flank. You also have the advantage of taking game without “informing the neighborhood” with a bow.

    Great point, good talking point, good argument for aquiring a bow!
    P.S. Rangerman, After reading through again I see where you mentioned shopping around, disregard previous statement.

  • Chefbear58 December 8, 2010, 10:37 pm

    Forgot to mention, my re-curve is a 45lb draw, and my compound is a 55lb draw, both are more than enough to take down a whitetail!

  • Spud January 15, 2011, 5:10 pm

    PSE bows are fine for the money, yet I prefer Hoyt brand bows. Yes they cost more, but are built like the good old Mack truck ! Newer parallel limb bows are much quiter and have virtually no recoil, also are much faster. A mechanical release is the only way to go, make sure to get a decent one, cheap releases have travel in the trigger, you want zero travel for the best accuracy. Bows are the ultimate survival tool ! No one will hear you !
    GET HOYT , Get Serious : gotta say that cuz I’m a pro shooter for a local Hoyt dealer here

  • William S. Guerrera March 2, 2016, 3:27 pm

    I’m 6’5″ and I shoot a 60# Matthews with a 30″ draw. To be totally honest with you I would just cruise craiglist for a bow that is less than 5 years old and has been taken care of. Matthews, Hoyt, PSE are all going to kill deer if you tune them correctly. You can get a nice 2 year old bow that was 900 bucks brand new for 400 to 500 used (and it will have a site, rest and silencers on it already). There are so many guys out there always chasing the latest and greatest. You can grab the perfectly good bow they leave behind for pennies on the dollar. Not sure where you are at, but at my local shop they sell bows on consignment. You will pay a little more than craigslist, but you can be sure the guys at the shop will make sure you are set up with a “ready to hunt” bow that fits you.
    If you really want to buy new, just make sure you shoot the bow before you buy. Go shoot a few.
    The best bow for your money is a used one.
    I’m making an edit to say that 70# is really heavy. Once you start to get that heavy and that long of a draw length arrows are tough to get just right. I’m at 60# and I have had to lighten my broadheads in order to get the accuracy I want. I hate doing this because the TRAD in me wants heavier broadheads.

  • David Ferraro July 5, 2016, 2:47 am

    I really like your post. It’s very nice article. Target shooting is something my sons and I enjoy, it’s more about the get together for me, than anything else. I prefer a recurve over a compound just for simplicity’s sake, but they are both fun. Thank you for sharing

  • Pat Kerr April 11, 2017, 2:39 am

    Just read your article. Good one. I liked it. Keep going. you are a best writer your site is very useful and informative thanks for sharing! Go for the best quality product possible and research before purchasing one. Wasting money is not something anyone likes, better spend sometimes on research and get the right best spinning reel.


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