Hunting with a Homemade Bow

Written by Brandon Garrett

If you are stuck in the woods and need to hunt for food, how are you going to do it? Knowing how to make a bow and arrow would definitely come in handy!

Obviously a simple 22.-caliber rifle would have more accuracy from a long distance, but you might be able to use a homemade bow and arrow to snag a meal from 10-50 feet. Remember though; don’t rely on a single method of hunting. You can use a combination of bow and arrow, snares and scavenging to survive in the wilderness.

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Check out this tutorial below to find out how you can use simple supplies in order to create a bow and arrow in the wild. Remember to be careful when you practice making a bow and arrow and work at your own risk.

The Bow
Wood Selection
There is a wide selection of wood that will work well for a bow. Woods that work well include yew, willow, cedar, locust, ash, hickory, elm, ash, maple or birch. Avoid pine or dead tree branches. You’ll want to choose greener saplings or shoots. Cut 2-3 potential shafts as you’re looking.

Bow Size
You’ll want to cut off branches, saplings or shoots that are about 50-60 inches long. As a rule of thumb, cut branches that measure from the ground to your neck. The bow should also measure at least 1 inch in its diameter in the center and 3/4 inches at the edges.

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Cutting the Bow
When you’re cutting the branch for the bow, be sure to use a saw or knife to cut it away. Never bend and break the branch off. Look for a branch that has very few knots and branches. You want to cut off as little as possible.

Making the Handle
There are two main sections that you’ll want to plan for in the handle: The rest and the hand grip. The hand grip can be made by just wrapping the area with leather. If you don’t have leather you can also use items like duct tape or cloth.

The other important aspect of the handle is the notch where the arrow will rest. You can cut a slight notch into the side of the wood right above the handle. If you’d like to accentuate the notch, you can place a stone underneath the leather to give you a larger notch to hang your arrow on.

Placing the String
On the outer edges of the bow, cut two v-shaped notches. Make the smaller end of the V’s point toward the inside of the bow. If you are worried that the bow might break apart at the edges, feel free to bind them with duct tape or another material that you have available.

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Now that you have the notches cut for the bow, choose a string that’s roughly 12 inches longer than your bow. You can use nylon twine, string, a leather strip or even shoelaces.

Stringing a bowTie one end of the string to the bottom of the bow. On the other end of the string, make a loop or slip knot that is about 6 inches shorter than your bow. You’ll then use your leg to hold the bow out as you attach the loop to the other side of the bow. (pictures below) Be sure to unstring the bow if you’re not using it. You don’t want the strand to lose its spring.

The Arrows
Wood Choice
Just like a bow, you’ll want to choose any straight sapling or shoot without branches or knots.

Length and Size
Usually a good arrow measures about 24-30 inches long and is about 1/4 – 1/2 inches in diameter. Typically, a shorter arrow remains straighter and they usually fly better and don’t break as easily.

Preparing the Arrow
The first thing you’ll want to do is remove the bark from the arrow. When you do so, cut straight so that you remove the bark but keep as much of the branch as possible. If you’re going to be using the arrows for multiple days, tie them together to ensure that they don’t warp and they keep each other straight. Ideally, you’d cure the arrows for 1-10 days (not in direct sunlight) straightening them each day. However, in an emergency that might not be an option.

You’ll cut a slight notch in the back end of the arrow to sit in the string of the bow. To prevent the arrow from breaking apart on the back end, you can tie string around the tail.

Prepare the tip of the arrow by cutting it into a point and charring it over coals if you have the option. This will harden the point a bit so it’s not as soft and green. Adding an arrow head will allow you to hunt larger animals like deer. With a simple sharpened edge, you can kill smaller game like rabbits.

Practice
The best thing that you can do is practice with your bows and arrows before you use them. Shoot the arrows at soft items (pile of leaves, patch of moss, etc.) to figure out which ones shoot straight and which ones don’t.

Have you Made a Bow?
Comment below to tell us what tips and tricks you have? Have you made a bow before? Tell us your advice and how it went for you. We’d love to get your advice too.

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Updated March 4, 2013

11 Comments

  1. Wayne wrote:

    Good day to you,
    My dad grew up having to hunt and fish for his family. Passed in 2002. He taught me a lot about hunting and fishing. His way to get a very straight arrow was to tie a heavy rock to the end and hang in a tree to dry. Very straight arrow. Taught me a lot about Survival and life in general.Live in Tenn so hunting fishing are a way of life. DON’T GO ANYWHERE WITHOUT A SURVIVAL BAG. 2ND IS A RIGHT BY GOD!!!!!!

    March 5th, 2013 at 7:35 am
  2. Craig wrote:

    Great article…I think you want the string to be about 12″ shorter than the bow, though. Also, with this type bow, you’ll want to protect your forearm with something since the string likely will hit you with every shot…a piece of hard plastic, smooth wood or tough leather is good, don’t make it rough or jagged or you’ll ruin your bowstring.

    March 5th, 2013 at 8:23 am
  3. Fausto Rasul wrote:

    how to hunt deer for the inside knowledge on buck hunting read our website How to hunt a buck !

    June 30th, 2013 at 4:20 am
  4. Archery is one of the oldest sports in human history, even though it had its start as a means of survival. Today archery is having a revival as both a competitive sport and a hunting style and this forum is here to help educate and celebrate the world of wrote:

    It is the best time to make a few plans for the longer term and it’s time to be happy. I’ve read this publish and if I may I wish to suggest you some interesting things or tips. Maybe you could write next articles regarding this article. I desire to learn more issues about it!

    July 12th, 2013 at 11:22 am
  5. Jason wrote:

    Nice article. I live in ct n i used to do Native American camp as boy besides Boy Scouts. They taught us simple ways only got squirrels rabbits. It would be nice to have pics demonstrating the steps and maybe pics showing certain trees with the leaves to help identify them. If you need to add feathers make sure you uses from same side of the wing right wings will spin right n left wing to left. This is why the used rifling in guns. A blunt area I flat hard arrow could for real small guy will kill them w/out damaging the goods to eat. Tie a rope on an arrow for fishing

    July 29th, 2013 at 6:54 pm
  6. Jason wrote:

    Nice article. I live in ct n i used to do Native American camp as boy besides Boy Scouts. They taught us simple ways only got squirrels rabbits. It would be nice to have pics demonstrating the steps and maybe pics showing certain trees with the leaves to help identify them. If you need to add feathers make sure you uses from same side of the wing right wings will spin right n left wing to left. This is why the used rifling in guns. A blunt arrow flat hard tip arrow good for real small game will kill them w/out damaging the goods to eat. Tie a rope on an arrow for fishing. Notice autocorrect uses wrong words n when I type on iPad the touch screen drops off n brings me to a link. Happens only on this site.

    July 29th, 2013 at 7:00 pm
  7. Don Ira wrote:

    I have been a hunter safety instructor. I had a woman that did the archery class demonstrations. She stated that the first time she shot a bow and arrow without breast protection, she thought she would die. For a woman breast protection is just as important as forearm protection. She had several breast plates, ranging from very simple to very expensive. It illustrated why the Amazon (female) warriors had the breast on the dominate side removed to keep it from obstructing the bow strings travel.

    September 16th, 2013 at 5:16 am
  8. Jason wrote:

    Hey don does that apply for manoobies, man boobs. Americans tend to be obese

    October 18th, 2013 at 10:48 pm
  9. Northwoods Cheryl wrote:

    I have many many years of experience hunting with both compound bows and recurves. Never caught a boob in a string yet, and I’m not flat!! Maybe shoulder width plays a role here. Good article! When fishing with a bow as one guy mentioned, be sure you adjust your aim for light refraction in water. The fish you see here may actually be over there, so to speak. Like putting a pencil in a glass of water.. it looks broken and the 2 pieces disconnected.

    January 8th, 2014 at 8:40 am
  10. zachary kauffman wrote:

    I found a good way to notch you arrows is to heat a butter knife over a fire,use it to burn the notch in.this will keep you from splitting your arrow.I like to burn in grooves for the fletching.you can burn a notch in the other end for my arrowhead,which I make out of flint,or glass..pine pitch and string to set the tip and fletching.happy hunting,carefull not burn yourself.

    January 29th, 2014 at 10:45 am
  11. Shar wrote:

    Wow, all this protection for what? If you’re dragging the string across your forearm or across your breast/chest then you’re not holding the bow right and your shot isn’t going to be accurate anyway.

    January 29th, 2014 at 1:37 pm

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