Article and photos by Nigel Fox
One thing I used to always think about is if I have the right bow setup for hunting in Alaska. I am going to cover some things that have helped me choose the perfect bow setup for me to hunt the backcountry of Alaska. I am no expert by any means, but I have hunted a lot throughout Alaska and the Lower 48 and this is what has been the all-around best setup for me.
There are several factors that go into making a choice for the setup you want to bowhunt with. The first and sometimes the hardest thing you have to choose is your bow! I like to start with a bow that is light in weight, compact but not too compact, and produces good arrow speed. For example, the bow I am shooting currently is the Xpedition Archery Xscape. The bare bow weighs around 3.9 pounds. It measures 30-inches ATA (axle to axle), with an International Bowhunters Organization (IBO) speed 348- to 352 feet per second (FPS). This bow is fairly light, compact and offers great speed for shooting an arrow that has good weight for hunting. I like a lighter bare bow because when I hunt the backcountry, I have to pack everything, so it makes things easier.
The second piece of equipment you need on your hunting bow setup is a fall-away arrow rest. There are so many to choose from; some are cable-driven, and some are limb-driven. I like a limb-driven rest like the Vapor Trail Gen 7. It’s really easy to set up and tune, plus it’s durable and easy to fix in the field if you have to, which has happened to me on a few hunting trips.
The next important piece you’ll need is a good sight. This part can be overwhelming. The biggest question to answer is: Do you want a fixed, multi-pin setup; or single/multi-pin yardage-adjustable sight. On my bow I always use a three-pin yardage-adjustable sight from Black Gold Sights. That way I can still shoot 20- to 40 yards fixed and then adjust my sight to shoot out 50- to 100 yards if need be. It is the best of both worlds. I like to match my front sight with a hooded-style peep sight in the correct size.
Is it possible to have a bow setup that will work for everything from 100-pound blacktails to 1000-pound moose, or even brown bears? Yes it is. The author arrowed this moose last fall on the Kenai Peninsula.
Next two pieces of equipment I lump together because you want them to balance each other out so you can have a steady shot. They are my stabilizer and arrow quiver. I like a stabilizer with front and back weight adjustment; there are a lot of options out there, you just need to find what works for you. The Stokerized SL Carbon Stasis or the M1 carbon SS1 stabilizer both give me the option to put weight on the front and back to steady my pin and they also offset my quiver to balance my bow from left to right. The arrow quiver I like is the Tight Spot 5-Arrow Quiver. It mounts to the back of the bow sight, fits super tight to the bow and is detachable. Balance is key to making the perfect shot.
Nigel Fox arrowed this Dall sheep using the bow setup he describes in this blog.
Last but not least are arrows. I could write a complete blog just on arrows. There are lots of archers out there that will weigh out each arrow and its components to get every arrow perfect, but this is what I do and what works for me. I am a big fan of micro-diameter arrows, 4 mm (.166 ID) or 5 mm (.205 ID) with at least a 50-grain outsert up front. I am currently using the Kill’n Stix Micro Ventilators with a wrap and three-fletch AAE Max Stealth vanes. My total arrow weight is 485 grains, and I am shooting around 280 FPS. It seems to be perfect for either a 100-grain fixed-blade broadhead or mechanical broadhead. With this setup my bow usually weighs around seven pounds total with five arrows in the quiver.
With the right bow setup, you can hunt any big-game in Alaska, including mountain goats.
I am not saying this is the perfect setup for everyone or every bow hunt, but it has worked awesome in all bowhunting situations for me so far, from bear baiting in a tree stand to hunting mountain goats in the Alaskan backcountry. If you follow my general guidelines for bow weight of 3.5- to 4 pounds for the bare bow, a good fall-away rest, a yardage-adjustable sight, a dampening stabilizer, micro-diameter arrows, and a light, adjustable arrow quiver, you should be able to set up the perfect bow for yourself.
My current hunting bow setup:
Bow: Xpedition Xscape
Arrow rest: Vapor Trail Gen 7
Bow Sight: Black Gold Ascent Verdict Assault
Bow Stabilizers: Stokerized SL Carbon Stasis
Arrow Quiver: Tight Spot 5-Arrow Quiver
Arrows: Kill’n Stix Micro Ventilator (350 spine)
The author’s Xpedition Xscape bow has served him well on Alaska hunts.
Nigel Fox Has been co-owner/guide at Alaska Drift Away Fishing for over two decades. He is a lifelong Alaskan and avid bowhunter of the Alaska backcountry. When he is not spending time guiding clients on the Kenai River, he is on another Alaska hunting adventure.