How do you carry a bow while hunting on a mountain bike? A person might think this simple question has a simple solution. The solution is far from simple when examined under the following criteria.
First, the bow must be safe and secure from damage. Second, it must not impede your ability to peddle and control the bike. Third, the sling must allow quick access to the bow when a hunting situation arises. Fourth, it would be ideal if one could easily reattach the bow to its carry position when bicycling resumes.
Now, let’s look at the available options on the market. Some people have adapted bow and rifle holders used on ATV’s that mount to the handle bars. This method fails to meet the first criteria. The expensive bow that you depend on to shoot accurately is compromised under the vibration and pounding of the front tire, even with front suspension.
What about a “Primos”, or, “The Claw” type blow sling that hangs over the shoulder? Remember that you are probably wearing a backpack. The strap must adjust long enough to allow the bow to be swung around the shoulder to rest over the backpack. This is the only way one can peddle, otherwise the bow is banging against your knees. Even if the sling has the needed adjustment, the bicyclist will endure the occasional tendency of the bow to slip off the back and swing down to the biker’s side and impede the peddling process. However, if no other options are available, this class of sling is better than handle bar bow mounts for an ATV.
Some newer backpacks feature built in bow and rifle carriers. This is a strong option for most mountain bike hunters. While most versions require removing the pack to access or replace the weapon, it does keep the bow safe, secure, and out of the way for biking. The down side is that one is restricted to a handful of backpacks with this feature and the hunter may not own the best pack for his or her needs.
For those who use external frame packs, choosing to make or adapt a bow hanger that can attach to the frame may be an option. A standard bow carry hook that is typically worn at the hunter’s side with a belt, can be attached at the top of the frame with a nylon or leather belt. This adaptation works well meeting all the former criteria. One can also make “hook/hangers” out of various materials such as wood, PVC pipe, or metal, and attach them to sit at the top of the frame to hang the bow on. However, the protruding hook/hangers at the top of the frame are excellent brush grabbers. These adaptations limit the bow hunter to an external frame backpack, which are far from cutting edge ergonomics.
A recent innovation is the author’s favorite and by far the most versatile, meeting all the bow sling criteria for mountain bike hunting. This backpack compatable weapon sling is not on the market but can be easily made with: Twelve feet of 1 inch nylon webbing, four quick release buckles, seven tri glides, and a needle with a little upholstery thread. Essentially, you are building a quick release sling that carries the bow in a vertical position on the back of almost any pack on the market. It connects at three points with quick release buckles at the waist and shoulders of the hunter and can be replaced almost as easily as it can be removed. See the slide show below and build one today.