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Thread: Traditional bow hunting polar bear

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    Member DanC's Avatar
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    Default Traditional bow hunting polar bear

    I found this photo here http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/arti...t-winters.html a few days ago. I believe the photo was taken near Nome in 1924.

    The photo is fascinating on so many levels but I think I am most amazed at how little penetration was achieved by those arrows. Does anybody know what kind of wood was used for bows in that area? How much kinetic energy do you think that bow/arrow combination was capable of? Would that bow be legal under today's rules?

    Although the caption calls this a "massive" bear, it is obviously just a large cub but still it's momma must have been in the area. It must have been a thrilling hunt even though the presence of the photographer and boat in the background makes me suspect that a rifle may have been nearby somewhere too.

    I like my new-fangled compound bow and equipment but I remain in awe of previous generations of hunters and their traditional primitive weapons.
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    Unless the bear stepped over the top of him I don't see how he would get that shot angle on a live bear. Probably more to the story. Would be a fantastic hunt for sure!

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    Quote Originally Posted by kodiak kid View Post
    Unless the bear stepped over the top of him I don't see how he would get that shot angle on a live bear. Probably more to the story. Would be a fantastic hunt for sure!
    maybe standing after the first shot went in his arse...

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    The previous wr was held by a trad guy from Fairbanks. He recently passed a couple years back.

    Bear, quite the remark! And uncalled for!

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    Quote Originally Posted by TradBow View Post
    The previous wr was held by a trad guy from Fairbanks. He recently passed a couple years back.

    Bear, quite the remark! And uncalled for!
    and why is that..Im not poking fun at trad archers or anyone just a pic...is there not an arrow in the back leg and how would you get two arrows in the chest in that angle if not standing...please explain...

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    To DanC:

    You would find that traditional gear and instictive shooting are much faster than with your "new" gear and sights. Quite accurate, too, at reasonable ranges in the field. I still think that the old trad gear [longbow and wood arrows] are much better on moving game, especially small, fast-moving game or flying birds.

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    I'm going out on a limb here. Pun intended. I believe the bow was made of yew and was purchased rather than built. Note the English horn nocks. Probably not more than 45 or maybe 50 pound pull which was common. Northern Native bows were much shorter and I think were made of heavily sinewed horn or short pieces of wood. I also believe the arrows where purchased. Looks like turkey feathers to me and last I checked there wasn't any Arctic turkeys. The one in the leg looks like a bamboo arrow with a long foreshaft. Back in the Pope and Young days you could purchase bamboo arrows by the gross fletched. I also don't want to cast doubt on this photo but. The two chest shots are very tightly grouped. I can see one shot to the chest but there must be a real story to getting the second shot in the same place at a standing bear. I also have a difficult time of believing the bear didn't break at least one of the arrows by swatting at them or when the bear ran on all fours. Not likely the bear just said "Oh, you got me!" and then fell over dead. However, I have read of interior natives shooting grizzlies in the rear with a blunt to get them to charge into their spear. Cool photo. Wish we had the story behind it.

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    My guess is that for whatever reason, the first shot was in the hind leg. Either the shooter took a long shot and the bear turned at the last minute (I've had that happen before myself, so I know), or the guy intentionally took a bad shot at his rear end because the bear was walking or running away. Anyhow, after that, the bear proceeded to run and bleed out because the arrow penetrated the femoral arteries and veins in the hind leg. After probably running a long way and losing a lot of blood, the bear fell over exhausted on its side. At which point, the shooter shot the last two arrows into the side of the bear making the finishing shots. That is what I think happened. Just a guess. Very cool photo though. Thanks for sharing.

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    Griz, I started out with a recurve bow in the mid-60s. I still find traditional gear fun to shoot but I never gained the accuracy or confidence I have with my compound bows. I resisted buying a compound bow for many years because I thought it was a gimmick and a passing fad but after I bought my first I never looked back. I would be interested in buying, or making, a good replica of a traditional Inuit bow.

    Bushwhack, your guess is as good as (maybe better than) mine. I was thinking that the bear was probably moving away from the hunter and soon to be out of range so he took the shot to the hind leg (nowhere near the femoral artery, by the way) in order to get the bear's attention and make it stop. The bear then stood up to have a look at its tormentor and then took the arrows to the thorax.

    Boud'arc, good eyes there to see the knocks (which I still can't see). And, I was also thinking the bow was too long for a native bow but I haven't been to Nome and haven't seen their traditional bows.

    I am also perplexed that none of the arrow shafts is broken. There may be deeper penetrating and broken arrows that we don't see but none of the three hits in the photo would result in a dead-right-there bear. Those are just some of the many things I found fascinating about this picture.

    I am glad some of you have found it as interesting as I did.

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    So quick to judge!

    Let me ask this. And my point is not to turn this into a gun vs bow debate. But the ideology of hunting deadly animals with any weapon!

    On a brown bear hunt what's most guided and many unguided hunters told to or have learned to do? Many rifle moose hunters follow the same principles for a vastly different reason!

    My rendition of what happened?

    I have no way in sam he!! Of knowing!

    But if I had to guess,
    1 those two chest shots were make sure he's dead shots as they walked up on a "dead" or possibly dying animal.
    2 the arse shot . Was it the first? Is it enough of a shot to take one and put the bear on its side long enough for you to walk up and double chest shoot it? I think not! I can tell you this, I sure as Sam heck would not risk my life with an arse shot polar. To walk up to it to finish it off. Your steel ba11s may be titanium, mine are not! So with that said I would highly doubt any of those three shots were 1,2 or3. But that's my personal assumption! Any things possible! And we'll never know!

    This is only a guess not an assumption! Personally this picture was taken 90ish years ago when life was quite different! Who are we to walk around and judge without having all of the facts. In this situation it's one impossible, shooters likely deceased, and two what relevance does it have other than current bow hunters slapping those that paved our way feeding fuel to a society hell bent on taking your lifestyle away! Since your on it come on over sometime. Bring some brawts I have a slew of old some hard to find videos of bowhuntings forefathers and some not so well known people photage. We can dissect them all! I have a library full of photos and books from many more.

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    Don't know about the rest of y'all but I have yet to kill an animal in the winter without getting a single drop of blood on the snow anywhere around the animal. I've also put my share of arrows into the vitals of critters, and pretty much everyone of them died with blood all over there muzzles/mouths. Seems like that should be pretty easy to see on a white bear...but maybe not...

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    Quote Originally Posted by DanC View Post

    so he took the shot to the hind leg (nowhere near the femoral artery, by the way)
    How do you figure that? The femoral artery is the main artery of the hind leg.

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    Danc,

    A look into history would show that yew as bow wood and turkey feather fletchings are impractical though not impossible. Most native bows on the coast here were a backed now, generally cable backed. There used to be one in the shoppers forum mall. There's also a fantastic article by Jeff Collins in pa mag on Alaskan natives, there bows and bowhuntings.

    Guessing weight? Impossible. Hill and many greats of that era shot bows few of us can shoot once today. That bow IMHO does appear to be yew which would lead me to believe it didn't belong to this man. Yew on the arctic coast does not exist. Pow island is the farthest known area with the tree. I am sure there's a few here and there farther north being a likely possibility. Finding one and than building a English style bow as mentioned with horn tips and turkey feathers???? Highly unlikely. Either way yew and many other bow woods can achieve weights well over triple digits.

    Penetration? What kind of heads? Arrows? Shot location? Etc. too many unknown factors to make any informed educated decision!

    Ke would depend on speed and arrow weight (speedxspeedx weight divided by 450240)
    Again more guessing. More assumptions. With a few major variables to put a miniimun "what's enough"?

    Lastly there are people all throught this state walking amongst you with tools exactly the same ( myself not included, I use modern glass lam longbows) who achieve similar results every year. Maybe it's time you fuel the fire again!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Frostbitten View Post
    Don't know about the rest of y'all but I have yet to kill an animal in the winter without getting a single drop of blood on the snow anywhere around the animal. I've also put my share of arrows into the vitals of critters, and pretty much everyone of them died with blood all over there muzzles/mouths. Seems like that should be pretty easy to see on a white bear...but maybe not...
    pretty good point frostbitten

    tradbow I dont think anyone is trying to "judge" as you put it but I can only speak for myself. I find it and amazing photo and I am merly trying to '"guess" the circumstances so lets not confuse the two.. You are right it was a long time ago and I am sure it was not done for a sport as my guess is that native people killed to survive and whatever method worked for them is what they did.. I is no disrespect to them to try to guess.. on that note I still think the low angle of the arrows in the chest could of only been shot while standing

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    Guys, I am really enjoying this discussion. I think you have all found the old photo as interesting as I did. Unfortunately, we can only speculate and will never know the rest of the story.

    Bushwack, I didn't mean to be flippant. You are correct that the femoral artery is the main artery of the hind leg. However, you know that the femoral artery exists the pelvis under the inguinal ligament on the medial (inner) side of the leg and then divides deep in the muscles on the inner side of the leg. You can feel the pulse of this artery on yourself kind of on the front of your leg if you put your hand in your pants pocket. The arrow is in the rump and far away from the main artery. {{in a former life, I was a professor of anatomy and taught anatomy in both medical and veterinary universities so I've taken apart lots of human and four-legged critters}} I am not critical of your explanation; it makes as much sense as any other. I was just commenting that the femoral artery itself is on the other side of the leg - something I had the bad habit of doing back in my academic days (been retired nine years now and should quit being the pompas-assed professor). Where is the smiley face when I need one? found it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DanC View Post
    Guys, I am really enjoying this discussion. I think you have all found the old photo as interesting as I did. Unfortunately, we can only speculate and will never know the rest of the story.

    Bushwack, I didn't mean to be flippant. You are correct that the femoral artery is the main artery of the hind leg. However, you know that the femoral artery exists the pelvis under the inguinal ligament on the medial (inner) side of the leg and then divides deep in the muscles on the inner side of the leg. You can feel the pulse of this artery on yourself kind of on the front of your leg if you put your hand in your pants pocket. The arrow is in the rump and far away from the main artery. {{in a former life, I was a professor of anatomy and taught anatomy in both medical and veterinary universities so I've taken apart lots of human and four-legged critters}} I am not critical of your explanation; it makes as much sense as any other. I was just commenting that the femoral artery itself is on the other side of the leg - something I had the bad habit of doing back in my academic days (been retired nine years now and should quit being the pompas-assed professor). Where is the smiley face when I need one? found it.
    Wow. You definitely have more knowledge on the subject than I do. All I know is, one time I did almost this very same thing on a deer I shot with a bow. The shot was a far shot. Farther than I should have taken but I was really young at the time. Anyhow. I shot, the deer heard the shot and turned. The arrow struck right in the hind leg similarly to the picture of the polar bear above. My father and I tracked that deer for a couple miles. It lost a lot of blood and eventually we found him half alive. I put another arrow in the boiler room and he quickly died. I always assumed the only reason why he bled so well was because I struck the femoral artery. But since you are or were a professor of anatomy I trust you know what you are talking about. My question to you then is, if it wasn't the femoral artery, then what major artery or vessel did I hit?

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    I want to make it clear that I'm not judging this bowhunter. I was merely attempting to guess at some of the OP questions. The shot in the leg meant far less in the day this photo was taken than it does now. That's why you still see the arrow in this photo. I would even say that not a single person looking at the photo in it's day would have noted it or made comment other than "Wow, that guy killed a polar bear with a bow!" It wasn't until modern times and modern anti-hunting sentiment have we become so overly sensitive about such things. Allow me to make another observation. Note the flowing water stream. Would that bear jump into the stream after being shot in the leg only to be shot in the chest as he was trying to climb out? May explain the lack of blood sign. Just say'n...

    Penetration? Kinetic? Power? I think the arrows are buried deeper than it may appear. If the two arrows in the chest are footed with a long wooden foreshaft like the one in its leg then you have at least 12" of penetration of two closely grouped arrows in a very good spot. Don't think that bear could get much deader.

    DanC, Look closely at the bow tips. They do not taper down to a sharp point. They have a slightly bulbous tip and a very slight static recurve tip which is indicative to glued-on horn tips. The tiller is definitely English "D" style. The wood is very thick from the side view which leads me to believe its yew. Lemon wood is much denser and would take less wood. Would look flatter. Thanks for posting the pic.

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    Yeah, Boud'arc and Tradbow, that bow certainly didn't look right to me when I first looked at the picture. Those arrows in his hand are not bear hunting arrows either. They look like they would be used for birds or small game and I assumed that they traditionally used bows more for small game rather than large animals like bears or caribou. If the arrows in the bear are the same length as the arrows in his hand I see almost no penetration at all and we can only speculate whether or not any of the arrows carried a cutting head.

    Bushwhack, I don't know how your arrow hit the deer you describe. A good hit from a modern bow similar to the arrow in the bear could have more penetration and would certainly have more cutting action from a hunting broadhead. All muscle is heavily vascularized and the thigh, in particular, has massive "penetrating" arteries from the femoral artery and its deep branch - the profunda femoris - that encircle the femur and supply the muscles. Cutting any of those major branches could have resulted in your deer bleeding out after traveling a significant distance.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DanC View Post

    Bushwhack, I don't know how your arrow hit the deer you describe. A good hit from a modern bow similar to the arrow in the bear could have more penetration and would certainly have more cutting action from a hunting broadhead. All muscle is heavily vascularized and the thigh, in particular, has massive "penetrating" arteries from the femoral artery and its deep branch - the profunda femoris - that encircle the femur and supply the muscles. Cutting any of those major branches could have resulted in your deer bleeding out after traveling a significant distance.
    Interesting. Thanks for the anatomy lesson. Good to know. Another quick question though. If an arrow were to penetrate from behind the animal into the hind leg, isn't it possible that the arrow could have severed the femoral since you said the femoral is on the inside (medial side) of the leg and not the front (anterior side) of the leg. I am an amateur so excuse me if I am wrong. I could see that it would completely miss it if the femoral was anterior to the femur and the femur would block the arrow. But it seems like if the femoral is running along the side of the femur (or medial to it as you say), then the arrow could in fact sever the femoral artery.

    If I'm wrong, then here is my modified analysis of the situation.

    My guess is that for whatever reason, the first shot was in the hind leg. Either the shooter took a long shot and the bear turned at the last minute (I've had that happen before myself, so I know), or the guy intentionally took a bad shot at his rear end because the bear was walking or running away. Anyhow, after that, the bear proceeded to run and bleed out because the arrow penetrated the highly vascularized profunda femoris in the hind leg. After probably running a long way and losing a lot of blood, the bear fell over exhausted on its side. At which point, the shooter shot the last two arrows into the side of the bear making the finishing shots. That is what I think happened. Just a guess. Very cool photo though. Thanks for sharing.

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    Jack, sorry about the delay in answering your question. Yes, it is possible that an arrow penetrating from behind an animal could sever the femoral artery. It would all depend on the angle of entry and angle of penetration and how deeply it penetrates. That is not the best way to reach the femoral artery itself though. There are lots of penetrating branches from the deep femoral artery (what I call the profunda femoris) that supply the muscles of the thigh also. The best way to understand the course of the femoral artery is to examine your pet dog or cat, or look at a ham, or simply trace it out the next time you butcher an animal.

    Understanding anatomy is one of the best ways to be a successful hunter and I appreciate your interest in the subject. If I can be of further assistance in this regard, let's take it to private messaging and I can try to find some non-copyrighted images online that I can share with you.

    Best wishes for the new year.

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