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Thread: Bowhunting for seals

  1. #1
    Member DanC's Avatar
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    Default Bowhunting for seals

    Hi folks,
    This summer I'll be teaming with a native Greenlander to visit his summer hunting/fishing camp in East Greenland. He wants me to try hunting seals with my bow. I'm not sure this has been done before so this is the current plan. I will appreciate criticisms, suggestions, or recommendations.

    Since we'll be targeting seals in the water I will use a bowfishing set up with hunting broadheads and a float attached to the arrow (instead of trying to reel it in like a fish).

    My experience with Alaskan seals is that they rarely let you approach within 30 yards and only show their heads above the water for a few seconds. I have no experience bowfishing and will have little opportunity to practice before heading to Greenland so I don't know how a fishing arrow flies. Can anybody tell me about their experience? Is 30 yards too much distance to shoot a fishing arrow? (it's not a high percentage shot but we want to try it anyway)

    Is it possible to spin-stabilize a fishing arrow? Probably not with fletching, but possibly by angling the blades on the broadhead similar to crimson talon broadheads? I have had good success hunting deer with crimson talons but have no evidence for or against their actual efficacy at spinning an arrow.

    If this stimulates some discussion I will come back with more specific questions.

    Please don't flame me for hunting sea mammals. Seals are a staple for the Greenlanders and I am hunting with a legitimate subsistence hunter.

    Thanks in advance for any comments,
    Dan

  2. #2

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    Any idea what species of seal you'll be hunting? Are they large or small as far as seals go?

    I would say 30 yards is really pushing it for a standard fiberglass bowfishing arrow. Five to 15 yards is much more common for typical bowfishing ranges. 30 yards on a fish, assuming you have good accuracy at that range, is one thing but fish rarely know an arrow is coming at them. I'm assuming seals would be alert and might have enough reaction time to avoid a slow flying arrow. Maybe not, just speculating. If you do try a bowfishing arrow, use one with plastic fletching, that'll at least give you better flight at longer distances.

    I think what might work better is to go with a really heavy standard hunting arrow. Even trying something like putting a skinny carbon shaft inside a larger diameter aluminum shaft, like some of the cape buffalo hunters have done. I'm guessing you will be aiming at seals that are in the water but with their head above water...? If so, you'll probably have to aim just below the water line to hit the chest cavity. So you won't have to shoot deep into the water, but will have to shoot through some water. Plus the heavier arrow might be less affected by whatever string / cord you have attached.

    For broadheads, you'll need something that is barbed, right? Hemmoraging of the vitals is what will do the job, but you don't want the broadhead pulling out of the seal as it swims away (thus making the float become unattached from the body and hindering recovery). I would think even a seal shot with an arrow is a strong swimmer and there would probably be a good deal of resistance pulling on that arrow as it swims away.

    Just my thoughts, but as I said purely speculation, never thought of this topic before 5 minutes ago!

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    Dan,
    Try out your rigs shooting a balloons pinned up at 30 yards. Don't know how big they are but a good size labrador head should be a good comparison. The float is great idea as wounded seals tend to dive and die down deap. Back home they were hunted on the beach and collected after the tide went out. Some guys would use shotguns so the wounded would not tend to sink. Pulling a live seal is not my idea of extreme harvesting, all you got to grab is the nose....yikes!

    Bring us back some seal jerky...

    George

  4. #4
    Member Bullelkklr's Avatar
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    Default Puddlehumping

    That is what we called hunting paddle fish with archery gear. In the summer time in Montana below the Fort Peck Reservoir the paddle fish would come up to the surface in the tailouts (dredge cuts) of the ****. They would eat plankton near the surface of the water. These are fairly big fish with no teeth - up to about 100 pounds. We put lights on the little boats and trolled slowly looking for the ominous black shadow that told us a puddlehumper was near. We shot them with recurves, fiberglass arrows, fishing tips, with about 30 foot of light rope tied to a gallon milk jug. When hit we would let the jug pull out the line and then look for another critter until the jug stopped moving. Then we would go get the fish. We were shooting these up pretty close - like 3 feet to maybe 10 yards. Most of the time they were close to the surface - within 2 feet, but often they would be maybe 5 feet down - but directly down under the boat. They would dive when the lights hit them hard or when they saw you move.

    Water will deflect the arrow bigtime. You have to aim low. A fish with a milkjug tied to his tail would soon wear out - typically within 5 minutes max and the jug would surface. If you hit them in the head or a good vital shot it was over instantly to very quickly.

    A seal has a head like a bear. A puddlehumper has no bones. You will have to take out the lungs or heart I would think for a quick kill. You will want that arrow to stay in the critter with a large enough floater to pull it to the surface if all air is let loose.

    I have shot carp out to 25 yards or so with my compound bowfishing gear ( a fancy little fitty dolla reel on the bow with some lightweight string of maybe 150 pound test) with pretty good acuracy once you learn how low to aim on them (depth dependant). 30 yards with a bowfishing arrow is too far IMO. You just won't have any penetration left even with the super heavy arrow.

    I would test out a heavy arrow like mentioned above - the trick will be putting the string on the arrow. My bowfishing arrows have a length of 300 pound test along the length of the arrow with a circular swivel like attachement. The cord to the reel or floater then attaches to that 300 pound test. When you shoot it, the attached cord is postioned to the tip of the arrow so that when you draw back it doesn't get in the way - then when you shoot it the swivel moves to the end of the arrow towards the nock making for better arrow trajectory/accuracy.

    If a seal floats with the air let out of him I just hunt with broadheads and a heavy arrow.....

    If I was pulling a seal up to the boat at the end of a 30 foot line I would have a 12 guage at the ready in case he decided he weren't dead!

    I want to go - that would be a BLAST!

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    First off what kind of bow and poundage is it.
    Second 30 yards is way out of rang for a fiber glass fish arrow.
    I have 100's of carp and gar with a bow carp up to 40 lbs. and alligator gar up to 70 lbs.
    All were shot with a fiberglass bowfishing arrow and a muzzy gar point.
    http://www.fogdog.com/product/index....filiateId=3578
    I think the aluminum arrow with a carbon arrow or a wood dowel glued inside will work the best.
    A arrow head like this would work.
    http://www.bowhuntingstuff.com/produ...ing-Point.html
    Carson

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by carsonwild View Post
    First off what kind of bow and poundage is it.
    Second 30 yards is way out of rang for a fiber glass fish arrow.
    I have 100's of carp and gar with a bow carp up to 40 lbs. and alligator gar up to 70 lbs.
    All were shot with a fiberglass bowfishing arrow and a muzzy gar point.
    http://www.fogdog.com/product/index....filiateId=3578
    I think the aluminum arrow with a carbon arrow or a wood dowel glued inside will work the best.
    A arrow head like this would work.
    http://www.bowhuntingstuff.com/produ...ing-Point.html
    Carson
    Only problem with that arrow head is he'd likely have one ill-tempered seal on his hands that would have to be finished off with a bullet.

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    Member AK NIMROD's Avatar
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    look at Gator Getter arrows i just got 3 for my gator hunt in sept. the tip comes free from the shaft. it is a heavy aluminum arrow made by Muzzy.
    would not cause alot of bleeding like a broadhead, maybe modify the head to also have cutting edges.
    most of my bowfishing shots are < 10 yards arrow won't have much penatrating power out at 30 yards. but i use a 30-40 lb pull bow usually for my bowfishing as well.
    whisker biscuit makes a rest for the heavy bowfishing arrows. or a roller style rest.
    personal i would try 2nd arrow reg. arrow with broadhead if possible and your able to gentley bring them to the surface.
    i would really check the laws before doing that i know it is a different country and they will have different laws but i can't do it here with someone that is legal to subsistance hunt for them.
    good luck post a thread about your hunt.
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    Gator getter to get him close then a killing shot with a good sharp broad head. Don't go unless the gentleman you'll be hunting with has shown he can actually shoot your bow! The only issue I have at all is your handing your gear to a guy who has never used it so he can hit a very small target in a bouncing, often moving boat! Frankly it's smaller game that I fine tune for. Putting a shaft through the boiler room on a moose is easy, hitting a duck at 30 yards from a boat is a totally different game. I think duck size is all the target a seal will offer you.

    Don't think you will find much in the way of attitude from this group over hunting seals. Wound one do to inadequate prep and you will hear about it. Other than that it would be very hypocritical for me to criticize, haven't hunted them but this is one white boy who has definitely eaten them!
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    Member DanC's Avatar
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    Thanks for the interest and replies guys.

    I'm going to take my old hunting bow (Hoyt Magnatec) with draw weight of 60 lbs. I choose this bow because I intend to leave it with my friend and it is one that can be adjusted to his draw length (he is much bigger than I). He will be able to use it after I leave. Another reason to use that bow is that there is always a possibility that we might encounter a polar bear and my friend really likes to hunt bears! Hunting with bows is not traditional in East Greenland because they depended on drift wood for all wood products and there was never suitable materials for making bows. As far as I know, we will be the first to use archery in this part of the world.

    I'll be doing most of the shooting - at least initially while he handles the boat. Later, we will adjust the bow to fit him and he will do some hunting while I am off on an exploratory expedition with other friends. This is a man that lives and breathes hunting (that is what he does for subsistence) an I am sure he will quickly gain proficiency with the bow. It does not take long to get good with a compound bow and this is a man who kills narwhal with a thrown spear!

    I like the idea of using a heavy-weight hunting arrow, and I would prefer using a hunting arrow, but we will need a retrieval system and a means of attaching a float. I am reluctant to attach a line to a hunting arrow and cannot envision a way to create a slide mechanism such as that now being used by bowfishers where the line attaches to the nock end of the arrow.

    I thought I would use a broad head like the one found here: http://www.amsbowfishing.com/product...roducts_id=242 The problem with trying to use a hunting head on a fishing arrow is that whereas hunting heads have male screws to attach to female hunting arrows, fishing arrows have the male screws and require a female head.

    These are ringed seals. Relatively smallish but could reach 300 lbs. I definitely want a quick and humane kill. As has been said, we don't want to be attached to an angry seal! The gator getter would be good attached to a float so it would tire the animal as it dives but will it cause enough bleeding for a quick kill? If a finishing shot is necessary I am sure we will use a rifle.

    I've tried to respond to all your comments. If I missed something, mention it again.

    Let's keep the discussion going, I am getting some ideas and am taking notes.

    Dan

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    DanC;

    Take a look at this http://tradgang.com/cgi-bin/ultimate...c;f=1;t=083771

    It's a very interesting read and may give you soime tips.

    Not that I know anything about hunting seals or aligators, (never done either) here is my thoughts on what I would do. Use a set up like the one in the thread and put a good sized float on the end of the arrows line/string. A good friend of mine who used to hunt seals (way back when it was legal) said that he would shoot them in the head as they bobbed up and had just taken a breath. If you shoot them with empty lungs or shoot them and poke a hole in them (lungs, etc) they would sink. After getting a fishing arrow in them I would then switch to a broadhead for a more killing shot. Pay attention to the advice in the thread about the arrow line/string placement before shooting, a spring back could be ugly.

    There's my $.02 worth.

    Good luck, you should have a bunch of fun, and let us know how it goes, eh?

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    Member DanC's Avatar
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    Tom,

    Thanks for that great link. I really enjoyed reading it.

    AK Nimrod, I am very envious of your upcoming gator hunt. If you don't mind, tell us more about where you will be hunting.

    Now I am convinced more than ever that I don't want to use that method with seals. (I mean the shoot, play like a fish, and then kill) I want a quick, humane kill, and easy retrieval of a dead seal. Our seal hunt is a subsistence meat hunt and I don't want to get into the sporting aspect of playing with food.

    I would go on a gator hunt like that without hesitation though, and I am envious of those who do it, so don't misunderstand me.

    Dan
    Last edited by DanC; 01-29-2010 at 13:34. Reason: to clarify my meaning

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    Member AK NIMROD's Avatar
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    Gator hunt is in LA , SW of Baton Rouge
    I was high bidder for the hunt at the AK Bowhunter Assoc. Banquet last year. I will have a chance for 9 foot gators or smaller I understand i will probably have the opportunity to shoot 3 gators. only down side is it is in Sept.
    I think it will be a problem for quick kill and then recovery of the seal. bowfishing arrow will allow you to get a float in the seal, then the killing shot with the broadhead tipped arrow.
    i just bought #600 test gator line that would be a good idea.
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    Default When to shoot the seal

    I second the information on shooting the seal when it nostrils get real big, I have shot seals in 1969 and 1970 when it was legal, and the only way to make them float is to shoot them with a lung full of air, They sink real fast, take a large sharp treble hook on a line with a weight on it, also take a long pole with a straightened out large treble hook that can be used to spear the sunk seal. I used a .243 and it is real hard to shoot a moving seal from a moving boat. Good luck Gerberman

  14. #14

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    There is a video of it guy chasing seals (or walrus cant remember) backin the day. I'll have to do some digging around see if I can find that vid. Del used to have it, he's now moved out of town though I may still be able to contact him.

    I remember the guy shooting them in the snout and I thought with a broadhead. Supposidly it was like spine shooting them. Definatly had some good info and if nothing else is was a fun vid to watch.

  15. #15

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    ding ding ding we have a winner....I found it.

    The video is called No Land for the Timid by Art Laha.

    You can find him on facebook of all places under "the legendary bowhunter "art laha". It looks like there will be dvd copies available of the video here soon (early feb)

    Or you can email him. artlaha@yahoo.com

    Imho this is a must watch video on the subject and if he truely IS still alive a must contact person! I dont think he is still with us though

  16. #16
    Member DanC's Avatar
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    Thanks TradBow,

    I just sent an email to obtain a copy of the DVD.

    It's nice to get so much interest in this project from fellow bowhunters!

    Dan

  17. #17

    Default Shoot Carp at 20yds

    all the time. As other have stated, I don't think the shot with bowfishing gear will be the problem but a quick clean kill and recovery will. I think you need a combination of broadhead for the hemorraging and then a barb to make sure the line stays attached to the float for recovery. .

    My guess is that a broadhead tipped fish arrow will get a complete pass through with the arrow on the other side of the seal acting as the barb- but not guaranteed. I have not seen anything specific for that application. Maybe a modified slide with barb?
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    http://www.patentstorm.us/patents/45...scription.html Maybe this would be some help, Normal hunting arrow with good sharp broadhead http://www.yeoldearcheryshoppe.com/g...00-p-5709.html The secound one is what we used for bears, They don,t leave much blood. I did shoot out to 30 yrs no effect on the arrow flight. I,m thinking after the shot and hit shuck a bunch off real quick and clip a bobber to it snip the line follow it aound til he comes up for air?

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    Will you and your friend be hunting the seals in open water or around ice flows or rocks?
    If your are going to be near the rocks or ice flows I would say to use the brake away tip.
    The brake away tip will better the chances of not losing the seal.

    I think you and your friend would be better off shouting a recurve bow than a compound.
    The recurve only has one string to brake and you can bring spare strings.
    Recurve's are faster to draw and shoot quickly they are also lighter and less likely to be broken or knocked out of wack.

    The alligator site has a lot of good info in it.
    Hears the tip you want.
    http://www.innerloc.com/Pages/prod_H2O.htm
    I havn't used this tip before but it looks like just what you want.
    Keep use posted on how things are going.
    It sounds like a fun hunting adventure.
    Carson

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