No matter the size of the game, every animal in the United States can be difficult to hunt in its own way. No one species is the same in the world of bowhunting, and being able to address each of their individual challenges is skill that many wish to have. The first step is knowing your intended target, and tracking it effectively; something that can vary greatly across the several big and small game animals.
White-tailed deer are one of the most commonly hunted animals in North America, and often seen as one of the most elusive. They are on constant alert for danger in every sense of the word, and can reach speeds of up to 35 miles an hour when escaping. While effective tracking and stealth drastically increases your chances of catching one, do not underestimate them. White-tailed deer are impressively tricky if you are not prepared. Combine this with the challenge of using a bow, and the difficulty only increases.
For those daring enough to track down an animal that can weigh over 1 ton, bears are actually considered less difficult than their woodland neighbors. This is largely due to the fact that their eyesight is fairly weak, but their sense of smell is astounding. Should you find a prime location downwind of these monstrous animals, hunting them should not be much harder than most. The key is having the right equipment to take them down quickly and humanely given their varying sizes.
Cougars (or mountain lions) can be especially difficult because of their innate ability to hide. Whether in a cave or high up in a tree, finding cougars is never an easy task. They are rarely seen in the wild as it is. Another factor that makes tracking them even more challenging is their preferred environments. Many of them spend their days in frigid temperatures throughout the snowy North American woodlands, only to then scale extreme heights in the surrounding trees. Tracking them can be quite a pain, but once found, an equal amount of stealth from the hunter’s standpoint is typically enough to catch one.
Mountain goats are another species that pose a great deal of difficulty purely because of the areas they tend to populate. While these are not highly sought after animals because of their small horns, they can rake in a decent amount of cash from their wool. Much like their other goat and sheep species cousins, they are not the hardest animals to hunt. The steep cliffsides and enormous mountains they call home is what makes catching them so challenging.
Elk are widely regarded as some of the most difficult animals to hunt. While they tend to be foolish in their premature ages, a full-grown bull is often much wiser, more alert, and keen on differentiating artificial calls from those of its relatives. They can be incredibly valuable targets, but come with the price of a challenging stalk.
Bison, to no surprise, are another species that many hunters consider quite troublesome. The American buffalo can be surprisingly hard to find despite populating the open plains of the West and Western Canada. The real challenge comes with actually taking them down. Bowhunting these massive creatures is far more difficult than using a rifle, but all part of the experience. Getting close enough for a clear shot runs the risk of spooking the heard, and thus exposing you to a stampede. You never want to face an angry bison that refuses to back down.
Opinions may vary on which animal is the most difficult to hunt. While these are just a few big game species listed, understanding how to change your tactics accordingly, practicing proper safety, and equipping yourself with the right gear will set you up for success when bowhunting.