Our Guide: Bow Hunting Small Game

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Although many archers hunt big game species such as deer, elk, and bear every year, far fewer individuals capitalize upon the numerous small game bowhunting opportunities that exist. Small game bowhunting features several benefits and can be extremely enjoyable for all involved.

Small game bow hunting greatly extends your opportunity to go afield. This is because most states offer small game seasons dispersed throughout the year, as opposed to the relatively short seasons associated with big game hunting.

Additionally, land access is typically easy to secure for small game hunting, leading to little issues in securing a place to hunt. Small game bowhunting also presents the opportunity for those that have difficulty in drawing heavier poundage bows that are used when hunting big game.

Very little force is needed to induce a lethal shot on game of this size.

If you are thinking of giving small game hunting a try but do not know where to begin, you are in luck. This small game bowhunting guide will provide you with all the information that is needed to place you well on your way to success.

What Is Considered Small Game Hunting?

A game species is typically characterized as small game due to its limited size and rather abundant quantities within a given area. Small game species usually feature liberal daily bag limits, and no overall season bag limits in many states (read.. post deer season activities).

Some species that fall into the category of small game include

  • squirrel
  • rabbit
  • and grouse

Small Game Archery Gear Needed For Bowhunting

Small game bowhunting has its own specific list of gear requirements, which serve to aid in the efficiency of your endeavors. The following are considerations that any archer pursuing small game should take into account before going afield.


When selecting your bow of choice for small game hunting, you do not have to be extremely choosy. Both recurve and compound bows serve archers well in their pursuits. The choice between the two has little to do with functionality in this case, and much more to do with personal preference.

The key point to remember when choosing a bow for small game hunting is that draw weight and arrow speed are not of as much concern as they are when hunting large game species.

This stems from the fact that little in the way of force is required to cleanly kill game of this size.


In general, typical hunting arrows can be used for small game hunting if you desire. However, some archers choose to shoot arrows other than their standard choice in target or big game hunting arrows, as a matter of cost-effectiveness.

When intentionally shooting toward the ground, as is common in small game hunting, arrows can easily become damaged. Therefore, some individuals keep alternate arrows of a lesser price on hand for such occasions.

Arrow Fletching

Flu-Flu Fletching by
XXLRay [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Another concern related to arrow selection for small game comes in the form of fletchings. Some archers choose to shoot arrows that feature flu-flu fletchings when shots at an upward angle, such as those at treebound squirrels, become likely.

This is because flu-flu fletchings create sufficient wind drag to slow down an airborne arrow to prevent it from sailing off into parts unknown.

Arrow Points

An archer’s selection in arrow points is perhaps one of the segments of gear selection that differs the most from other archery endeavors. Standard large diameter cut on contact or mechanical blade broadheads are, for the most part, overkill when hunting small game.

Instead, a multitude of specialty small game heads exists on the market today

These small game varieties include

  • blunt tips
  • judo tips
  • bludgeons
  • and bird points,

among other custom brand-specific offerings.

No products found.
Blunt Tips
Zwickey Judo Points 11/32 Cement On
Judo Tips
Saunders Bludgeon Small Game Head 100...

Small game heads, in general, offer sufficient transfer of kinetic energy to their target for a clean kill, without creating pass-throughs that let arrows sail further than intended.

Any of these point varieties will quickly, cleanly, and efficiently take many small game animals when adequately selected for the task at hand. Watch this video for a quick overview of archery heads for small game hunting.

Types Of Small Game To Bow Hunt

Every year, many bowhunters take to the woods in pursuit of small game. The species that they pursue vary greatly depending on their geographical location and open seasons within the given area that they hunt.

However, several small game species stand out above the rest as being some of the most prominently hunted in several areas.


a squirrel eating

Who doesn’t like hunting squirrels? They are found in nearly all woodland areas, are typically quite abundant in numbers, and make excellent table fare when properly prepared.

Flu-Flu arrows are always the best choice when shots are to be taken at squirrels above ground level. However, even with their use, you must exercise caution regarding your surroundings at all times.

Additionally, several small game heads will work adequately for squirrels, with judo and blunt tips being among the most popular options.


a rabbit looking at camera

Rabbit hunting is an extremely enjoyable small game hunting pursuit, due in large part to the fast-paced action that is often rendered during such a hunt, and the need for stealth when stalking this wary species.

When bowhunting for rabbits, a hunter’s choice in arrows varies greatly and is typically based more on personal preference, as opposed to a matter of functionality. The decision regarding arrow points is also one of personal preferences.

However, judo, bludgeon, and blunt tips consistently rank among the highest favored points for rabbit hunting.


a grouse walking

Grouse hunting is another worthwhile endeavor for any bowhunter, which can easily lead to hours of fun while afield. These resilient birds are known to reside in thick brush, and when they are startled, grouse will fly to a treetop roost site. This is where bowhunters are given their opportunity at success.

As a grouse perches on a roost, a hunter can position himself or herself for a shot. Because an exceptional number of airborne shots are to be expected, the use of flu flu arrows is highly advised.

Many hunters find that a judo or bird point is perfect for executing lethal shots on grouse.

Small Game Equals Big Adventure

As a bowhunter, if you are putting your bow in storage following the close of standard big game seasons, you are truly missing some of the best adventures that are to be had.

After reading this small game bowhunting guide, you should be better equipped to go afield in a knowledgeable fashion regarding your selection of gear and how it relates to the game you pursue.

By making the proper equipment considerations, and studying the game in which you wish to hunt, you can extend your level of bow hunting opportunity indefinitely. Interesting read.. where to shoot a goose with a bow?

Feel free to leave any comments that you might have. We always appreciate any feedback from our readers.


What Is Considered Small Game Hunting?

A game species is typically characterized as small game due to its limited size and rather abundant quantities within a given area. Small game species usually feature liberal daily bag limits, and no overall season bag limits in many states.

Some species that fall into the category of small game include:

– squirrel
– rabbit
– and grouse

I am the founder and chief editor here at BowAddicted. I love my kids, archery, and the outdoors! It's been an amazing journey so far with some ups and downs, but it's worth it to spend time outside with friends and family.

2 thoughts on “Our Guide: Bow Hunting Small Game”

  1. It’s fine by me if deer hu ters dont go hunt small game …it leaves the woods totally to me and is very peaceful.
    Please, stay home, put your bows away and watch tv. I really appreciate it…


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