In the United States the vast majority of big game hunters hunt with modern, center fire rifles. These rifles are typically very accurate and powerful enough to reliably and ethically kill most species of North American big game. However, the big disadvantage of using a center fire rifle exclusively is that in many parts of the country, center fire rifle season is typically the shortest season for big game, if it is even allowed at all. Coupled with the fact that this is the time when most people hunt, this makes for a short, more crowded, and potentially unsuccessful season. This is especially true when hunting on public land. One way to get around this is to hunt during one of the primitive weapons seasons.
Hunting with a bow or a muzzleloader will significantly increase the length of hunting season available to you. For instance, last year in Georgia the white-tailed deer archery season in the northern zone ran from September 8 to October 12. Muzzleloader season ran October 13-19. The general rifle season ran from October 20 to January 1. At 11.5 weeks, Georgia has a very long general season, much longer than in many other states. However, by hunting during the archery and muzzleloader seasons, one could increase the amount of hunting time by an additional 7 weeks; that’s a 60% longer season. In other states, the difference is even more profound.
Yes, hunting with a bow or a muzzleloader does require more skill than hunting with a center fire rifle, especially with a bow. However, the additional benefits of doing so may be worth the investment of time and money to become a proficient at using a bow and/or a muzzleloader. Fortunately, muzzleloaders and archery equipment are much easier to obtain and learn to use today than they were 10-20 years ago. In addition to increasing your odds of having a successful hunting season, using a primitive weapon also gives you opportunity to spend more time enjoying the outdoors. What’s wrong with that?