Thrumming with thoughts of victory, bowhunters took to Texada Island last weekend to compete in Broken Arrow, a yearly bowhunting competition.
The tenth annual competition, organized by Powell River Outdoors, welcomed hunters from around the province, all vying to bag the biggest Texada Island deer.
For hunt organizer Sam Sansalone, the event is more than just a fun activity, it’s a way to promote the skill and sport of bowhunting.
“Bowhunting puts you back in a primitive state,” said Sansalone. “You have to be really stealthy and that makes you a better hunter.”
Stealth is needed, said Sansalone, because bowhunters must get much closer to intended targets, within 20 to 40 yards, as opposed to the several hundred yards of distance allowed by rifle hunting.
“You aren’t just driving around getting out of a truck and shooting a deer,” he said. “You have to really use your skills.”
The fact the competition revolves around the hunt for the largest Texada deer is a bit of a play on the notion the island produces smaller animals, said Sansalone.
“Deer on the island grow to suit their environment,” he said. “[Texada deer] are smaller and don’t provide much meat for the freezer, but the quality is good as the animals are not stressed out by predators.”
With deer ranging between 60 and 90 pounds in size, Sansalone estimates each deer provides 35 to 55 pounds of usable meat for sausages and roasts. The quality of the meat is making Texada an increasingly popular destination for hunters, he said.
“The majority of hunters used to just do it for fun,” he said, “but now after seeing what is in commercial meat, more and more people are harvesting deer for food.”
A hunter for food and fun, Sansalone said the September 1 to January 15 bowhunting season gives individuals more of a chance to bag an animal outside of rifle hunting, which takes place between September 10 and December 15.
“Once the deer hear gunshots, they know what is happening and turn nocturnal,” he said. “The longer season gives bowhunters a fair chance, even though the sport is a lot tougher.”
With 25 hunters participating this year, Broken Arrow took place on Saturday and Sunday, January 9 and 10. Each entrant provided $25 to a central pot for the winner, selected following a weigh-in at Texada Island Inn.
According to Sansalone, four deer were taken during the weekend bowhunting rally, including the 53-pound, field-dressed deer shot by winner Ken Brach of Victoria, BC.
Although there is a cash prize, Sansalone said the competition is not about money.
“The competition is about getting people hunting on Texada,” he said, “and having fun.”