A basic rule of hunting is to remain quiet, it doesn’t take a genius to understand animals are alert and aware of their surroundings. Deer are constantly avoiding predators, predators are constantly seeking both prey and imminent threats. No matter how accomplished an outdoorsman may be, humans simply don’t have the senses an animal has, nor are they as aware of what’s going on in the woods the way an animal is. A deer will hear the sound of a bow firing and jump out of the way before the arrow reaches him.
Being quiet involves more than wearing the proper boots while walking into a hunting area to get to your blind or tree stand, and then sitting quietly until the game comes down the trail you’re watching. The sounds your weapon makes can send game running, making a legitimate humane shot nearly impossible. The problem is solved with guns by using a safety rather than cocking when the animal comes into view, but bullets break the sound barrier and therefore don’t require the same attention as a bow. With a bow, game hears the sound of the fire before the arrow reaches them and will jump out of the way much faster than the speed at which the arrow travels.
The solution to such a problem seems obvious, you make the bow as quiet as possible. Modern compound bows are designed to be quiet, but since everybody has slight variances in their stance and how they use the bow, there are different means of suppressing the sound of a bow shot according to your personal needs. If there was an absolute solution to bow noise, every bow manufacturer would incorporate it. Instead, you have to evaluate your hunting style, the humidity and elevation of where you hunt, and determine what will work best for your situation. With that said, there are some common noise solutions with different options according to your needs.
1. String Silencers
The most common source of noise during a shot is from the bowstring. Although there is no means of proving it definitively, historians hypothesize that stringed musical instruments originated when hunters harmonized their singing voice to the sound of a plucked bowstring. Although your bowstring may be a great contribution to music, you don’t want it to apply when slinging an arrow intended to provide dinner.
Small pieces of animal hide or fur tied onto the bowstring can absorb the vibrations and silence the sound of the string firing an arrow. Such a solution may not be ideal for an Olympic target shooter who counts half millimeters with each shot, but it won’t affect the hunter’s accuracy toward vital organs in any noticeable way.
Another proven means of silencing a bowstring is the cat’s whisker string silencer. The concept is like using animal hide to relieve vibrations, but uses rubber to absorb and disperse the string’s vibration and noise. The obvious advantage is that rubber is weather proof and won’t suffer when you’re out hunting and it rains. Cat’s Whiskers are inexpensive and easy to install, and proven to quiet the sound of your bowstring. There are other items available which achieve the same effect with more intricate technology, and if you prefer them you may want to speak with your local archery mechanic about having such things installed properly on your bow.
2. Limb Dampeners
As defined by the very way your bow functions, the limbs bend and flex as you fire an arrow, causing vibrations which in turn produce sound. A well-made bow won’t really produce much noise through the limbs, but it is going to be there. Limb Dampeners absorb the vibrations and reduce the noise caused.
A poor man’s solution may be to tape any piece of rubber to your bow limbs, but professionally engineered limb dampeners are designed to absorb the vibrations efficiently without affecting your bow’s performance. Although this is of the least concern to a hunter, professionally designed limb savers also look great when a guest in your home admires your bow.
3. Bow Stabilizers
The main purpose of a bow stabilizer is to balance the weight between the belly and back of the bow so it sits comfortably in your hand. The counterweight serves another purpose, which is to add weight to the bow and therefore reduce the vibrations which cause excessive noise from each shot.
It’s important to note how target bow stabilizers can often be far too difficult to navigate with on hunting grounds. Hunting stabilizers are designed to be compact so you can get to your hunting site without getting tangled up in underbrush, yet still have a reasonable balance and silencer attached to your bow.
4. String Stopper
The String Stopper is a simple idea, but requires modern technology to incorporate successfully. The concept is to stop the string from further vibrations after the shot by providing a positive stop-action on the string, preventing it from continuing to “hum” as it falls back into position at a complete rest.
5. Regular Maintenance
For the avid archer, it can be easy to forget basic bow maintenance, which will contribute to bow sounds if not conducted properly and on time. Modern bows allow for accessories which help to delete noise, but if the accessories themselves rattle, you have another noise to deal with. Regular maintenance includes using proper lubrication on moving parts, assuring ant accessory is securely tightened to avoid a rattle, and using moleskin as needed to provide a soundproof barrier between moving parts.