Bowhunters are gadget gurus by necessity. One need only thumb through a Cabela’s catalog to see the litany of bowhunting accessories available today. Camouflage to match the terrain, treestands, targets, boots—the avid bowhunter often has at least two bows and enough arrows and other gear to fill a storage unit.
In all my years of bowhunting, my pack-rat tendencies have accumulated enough gear to fill a decent-sized pole building. Yet with age, I’ve begun to mellow on the gadgets and find myself reaching for my old-reliable necessities and packing less and less for adventure trips. There’s something about the feel of an old, worn pair of boots that keeps me from ordering the newest, latest and greatest. My favorite camo pants have six holes patched on them but are still the most comfortable, and I just can’t bring myself to pack a new pair. Bowhunting is all about confidence, and once I have a release aid that feels right or a bowsight that’s tacking tight groups, there’s little chance I’ll dabble in something new.
One aspect of bowhunting that’s rarely discussed is the arrow quiver. Ninety-plus percent of all bowhunters use a quiver attached to their bow. Bow-mounted quivers are inexpensive and convenient. They are, however, not my choice, and the reasons are many.
How many Olympic archers or tournament shooters have you seen carry arrows on their bow? Zero, correct? Tournament archers live and die on their shooting accuracy, and they spend countless hours setting up bow equipment to hit exactly where they aim. The weight of five hunting arrows and a quiver bolted to the side of a bow destroys balance. A full quiver on your bow also acts as a weather vane in breezy conditions, making steady aim difficult. Accurate shooting at distances more than 40 yards is difficult for any bowhunter, yet with a sail-like quiver on your bow it’s probably unethical to take such a shot with wind buffeting aim and concentration.
Weight is also a concern. While some bowhunters access their hunting area via pickup or ATV, some archers must hike mountains in pursuit of wild sheep, or strike out across hill and dale after a bugling bull elk. Even for the accessorized bow man or woman who uses a bow shoulder strap, a new ultralight compound bow and attached quiver of shafts carries like an anvil.
TRIED AND TRUE
For bowhunters who opt to hunt without a bow-mounted quiver, there are a few options. Hip quivers are used by many tournament and field archers, and there are several made for hunting. Back quivers have been around for centuries, and the iconic look of fletched shafts over the shoulder was made popular by both Saxton Pope and the famous Howard Hill.
My quiver of choice is the Catquiver, made in the USA by Rancho Safari. It’s a unique back quiver that protects both broadheads and vanes. The unit is light-weight and will accommodate lots of arrows. I use leather bootlaces to tie my Catquiver onto my favorite backpack.
A Catquiver totally encases the arrow top and bottom. Working with the aid of memory foam in the vane housing, the nock end of an arrow is simply inserted into the foam and the broadhead end is wedged securely against the point guard. The point guard is a rubberized pad that protects the broadhead and holds the arrow in the quiver. I attach the Catquiver on the right side of my backpack. Thus, I can easily reach back with my right hand and pluck an arrow from the quiver without ever looking back.
My Catquiver is always a subject of conversation in hunting camp. Bowhunters who see it are often quick to ask why I use it and where I got it. Because of the necessity of using different size backpacks for different hunting conditions and different camouflage, I have three cat quivers: brown camo, green camo and snow camo. These adapt quickly to small fanny packs that use shoulder straps, as well as the largest internal-frame hunting packs. The fact that my Catquiver can hold as many as 20 arrows allows me to take all the arrows I need into remote camps all safely locked in my quiver system.
On a typical spot-and-stalk bowhunt, I’ll usually carry nine broadhead-tipped arrows and one practice-tip arrow, for a total of 10. Just the fact I’m not limited to five arrows on any one hunt makes the Catquiver priceless.
Of course, a quiver on your backpack means that it’s essential to wear a backpack on your hunt. Hunters who drop their pack for a stalk will be leaving a second shot opportunity behind, and this is why I rarely take off my backpack on a spot-and-stalk hunt. In the treestand or ground blind the Catquiver works like a champ because it’s attached to my pack and I always have my pack with me.
The most important aspect of a Catquiver is it gets the extra arrows off my bow. Without the bow-mounted quiver, my Mathews is lighter, easier to shoot, and I believe this “bare bow” concept makes me more accurate, especially while shooting in breezy conditions.
Another point is that without the heavy quiver and arrows on the bow, hunters can now adapt a tournament shooter mentality to their bow stabilizer. I’m currently using a long, heavy Bee Stinger stabilizer featuring a weight-forward design. The Bee Stinger dramatically helps shooting accuracy by balancing and stabilizing my bow, allowing me to settle and hold sight pins more smoothly on distant targets for incredible long-range shooting accuracy. For bowhunters this is crucial on hunts in alpine country where there is a lack of stalking cover and you might need an accurate 60- or 70-yard shot for wild sheep success.
The truth is more animals have been taken by archers with bow-mounted quivers. Even so, if you’re striving to be the best bowhunter you can be, consider carrying your arrows on your back and reap the benefits of a lighter and more balanced bow rig. I’m glad I did