The Essence of Life

The Essence of Life

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Pope on Hunting

Saxton Pope
Bow hunting is an art and a challenge. It took me 9 seasons to bag my first whitetail deer using bow and arrow (see my post “Appointment in Bangor” from October 2011), and along with the black bear that I also shot using bow and arrow in Ontario in August 2010 those are among the highlights of my hunting life.
While hunting with bow and arrow is clearly more challenging that with a firearms, I don’t think that this lessens the firearms hunter, especially since I do both. We need to be united as a hunting community, and cannot let ethics be confused with preferences (for an excellent article in this subject, click at the link We must keep in mind that united we stand, and if we brake our ranks we will fail and those that wanted to prohibit hunting and see men apart from nature will prevail.
But this is not the reason that I am writing about. On my last posting I talked about the “Love of the Chase”, and tried to articulate the reason of why I hunt, probably in a very clumsy way, but while reading Hunting with the Bow and Arrow” by Dr. Saxton Pope, one the fathers of modern archery, I came across a passage called THE PRINCIPLES OF HUNTING, that I reproduce below. I only wish I could write as well as Dr. Pope.
In the early dawn of life man took up weapons against the beasts about him. With club, ax, spear, knife, and sling he protected himself or sought his game. To strike at a distance, he devised the bow. With the implements of the chase he has won his way in the world.
Today there is no need to battle with the beasts of prey and little necessity to kill wild animals for food; but still the hunting instinct persists. The love of the chase still thrills us and all the misty past echoes with the hunter's call.
In the joy of hunting is intimately woven the love of the great outdoors. The beauty of woods, valleys, mountains, and skies feeds the soul of the sportsman where the quest of game only whets his appetite.
After all, it is not the killing that brings satisfaction; it is the contest of skill and cunning. The true hunter counts his achievement in proportion to the effort involved and the fairness of the sport.
Here we have a weapon of beauty and romance. He, who shoots with a bow, puts his life's energy into it. The force behind the flying shaft must be placed there by the archer. At the moment of greatest strain he must draw every sinew to the utmost; his hand must be steady; his nerves under absolute control; his eye keen and clear. In the hunt he pits his well-trained skill against the instinctive cunning of his quarry. By the most adroit cleverness, he must approach within striking distance, and when he speeds his low whispering shaft and strikes his game, he has won by the strength of arm and nerve. It is a noble sport.
However, not all temperaments are suited to archery. There must be something within the deeper memories of his inheritance to which the bow appeals. A mere passing fancy will not suffice to make him an archer. It is the unusual person who will overcome the early difficulties and persevere with the bow through love of it.
The real archer when he goes afield enters a land of subtle delight. The dew glistens on the leaves, the thrush sings in the bush, the soft wind blows, and all nature welcomes him as she has the hunter since the world began. With his bow in his hand, his arrows softly rustling in the quiver, a horn at his back, and a hound at his heels, what more can a man want in life?

Note: The book “Hunting with the Bow and Arrow”, as well as many other fantastic books, can be downloaded for free at several internet sources, including and Project Gutenberg (


  1. Hello Rodrigo, excellent blog! I found out about it through Backwoodsman Magazine. I was reading the article about the 1.5 buckshot you bought, believe it was .31". I just wanted to find out where you found this at. I'm having a hard time finding it. I look forward to reading more of your articles. Thank you and have a great day.

    1. John,

      Thank you very much for your words.

      I tried to reply to you by e-mail, but I am not sure that it worked. You can find the 1 1/2 buckshot at the link



    2. Rodrigo,

      I never received the e-mail but appreciate the reply. Thanks for the link. I couldn't find this anywhere! Have a good one!


  2. I just bought my first bow. Having never used one before I took advice from a friend. I will take a look at the book by Dr pope.
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