Here are the best recurve bows for hunting. I’ve made sure to diversify the price ranges these bows were from, so no matter what your budget you are going to find one that is right for your particular needs.
I would really appreciate it if you would read all the information on this page to get a better understanding of why it is I chose these specific hunting recurves to list here. This will help you make a better decision that will allow you to enjoy your bow for many years.
Also, please be aware that all the models below can be used equally well for target practice; basically any hunting recurve is good for target shooting as well, though the opposite does not apply. This has to do with the draw weight: a hunting bow must be a minimum of 40#, while target shooting can be rewarding with even a 15# bow if shooting from a small enough range.
Top recurve bows for hunting (2021)
Top hunting bows (2013-2020) – legacy rankings
The list below compares recurve bows that received top rankings between 2013-2020. Many of these bows are no longer on sale or are temporarily out of stock due to COVID-19-related problems, but I decided to leave the table here for the record.
|Hoyt Buffalo Recurve Bow
See on Amazon.com
|Bear Grizzly Recurve Bow
See on Amazon.com
|Martin Saber Recurve Bow
See on Amazon.com
|Martin Hunter Recurve Bow
See on Amazon.com
|45, 50, 55 lbs.
|50, 55, 60 lbs.
|30, 40, 45, 50, 55 lbs.
|40, 45 50, 55 lbs.
What Makes a Recurve Bow Great For Hunting?
I don’t want to simply “force” some specific bows down your throat; I want you to actually understand why it is that I’ve chosen the bows listed above. With that in mind, here are the things that make a recurve great for a hunter.
1. It needs to be quiet
This is likely the most important thing to keep in mind. Nothing is more annoying than setting up for that perfect shot after an hour or two of tracking or luring your prey, only to have them run away due to the noise generated by drawing the string on your bow. So how do you solve this?
By choosing a bow that is specifically designed to minimize this kind of noise. These will include limbs made from specific, “quiet” material. They will be well tuned. They will include dampners or other elements designed to silence the string.
All of the recurve bows in the list above meet these criteria – they are quiet and reliable. Obviously though, being “quiet” is not enough.
On a side note, scent elimination is also an important aspect of recurve hunting, due to the relatively closed-quarters shooting you’ll be doing (as opposed to a rifle hunter, for instance). You might therefore want to consider getting a scent eliminator to give yourself better odds. A lot of them come in spray form and are very cheap to get. For those of you hunting from a blind however, an electronic scent eliminator – one of the more recent wonders of hunting technology – might be a better choice. I recommend reading this Ozonics HR-200 review by John McAdams and then deciding whether it’s an appropriate purchase for you.
2. The draw weight needs to be just right
This one is a bit of a variable, but nothing we can’t handle.
I strongly recommend that you never use a recurve bow for hunting unless it has a drawing strength of 40 pounds or more. The reason being that, during hunting, you will want your arrow to pierce your prey and penetrate the body deeply enough. Unless your recurve has a draw weight of 40 pounds or more, and especially if you are shooting from further than 15 yards away, chances are you will just injure the animal without actually killing. It will then run away, needlessly suffer, and you’ll even lose your arrow. That’s not all though.
You need to choose a bow with a draw weight that you can handle. When hunting, you often need to draw your bow and then hold for a minute or longer before actually firing. If the draw weight is too much for your muscles, you will start to shake and your aim will suffer greatly. So how do you know what draw weight is enough for you?
Simple: if you have never fired a recurve bow before, simply go for 40-45 pounds draw weight at most. The vast majority of males can handle this quiet well, and I guarantee that you will only get stronger as time goes on, making it easier for you to handle considerably more draw weight. So to sum it up:
- If new/uncertain, go for 40-45 pounds draw weight.
- If experienced/have strong back muscles, go for 45+ pounds draw weight.
- If you’re a teenager / have a small frame, go for 40 pounds, tops. You’ll improve soon enough.
3. It needs to be long
This one is simple: the longer the total lengh of the bow (from tip to tip), the more accurate your shots will be. How long exactly?
The best recurve bow for hunting will have a minimum length of 58 inches. The longer the better. You will notice that almost all of the recurves in the list above have a length of 60 or more inches – you now understand why.
4. Ease of transport should be considered
This may not seem like an issue for you now, especially if you have never used a bow before, but believe me – transporting a 60+ inche bow in a safe manner (you don’t want the limbs to get bent or worse – broken, do you?) can be a real hassle. Now, if you have a big enough car to transport your bow easily while avoiding damage to it in route, that’s great. Otherwise…
You need a takedown recurve bow for hunting. In case you didn’t know, a takedown bow is one where you can quickly detach the limbs from the riser by unscrewing a few screws. This makes storing and transporting your bow so much easier.
That’s why I’ve included the “Takedown?” column in the chart above.
Recurve Bow Hunting Outside Of The United States
When it comes to recurve bow hunting outside of North America, the vast majority turn their attention towards South Africa. It’s abundance in a huge variety of wildlife, including the largest game in the world, makes it an ideal destination for the most ambitious trophy hunters. Beginners should note, however, that hunting lions, rhinoceros or cape buffalo is strictly regulated in the country, and that it is illegal for foreigners to do any tracking or shooting without strict supervision from certified specialists. Moreover, taking down the largest game in South Africa requires some heavy pulls (draw weights no smaller tan 50 pounds) and exceptional skill and precision; and even then, taking certain species is just too dangerous with anything other than a long-range firearm. As such, if you decide to visit this beautiful country, you should most certainly ask for assistance, and we’re happy to recommend our friends over at Big Game Hunting Adventures, who offer one of the finest safari services; their South Africa Hunting page has all the details.
You Must Know Your Prey
Do you plan to hunt rabbits? Turkey? Deer? Bears? Elk?
For instance, a 40 lbs draw weight bow will be enough to kill rabbits, turkey and deer even from a 30 yard distance (assuming your aim is on point, of course!). That same bow, however, may not prove as effective on that same distance if hunting for larger game, such as black bear or elk. With that in mind, here are some guidelines on how to make a decision:
- If you want no constraints at all, pick a 50 lbs. draw weight bow.
- If you are only going for smaller game (rabbits, turkey, deer), 40 lbs. will be more than enough.
- If you’re not sure what you want to hunt for and/or have no experience, a 45 lbs. bow is the “sweet spot” you should go for.
You shouldn’t worry about it too much though. Even a 40 pounder is well-capable of taking down a bear for example, providing you shoot from a close enough range. You need to keep in mind though that often it won’t be possible for you to get too close to your prey, and that you’ll need to keep a distance of 20+ yards minimum in order not to scare the game away. The advice above keeps that in mind: it assumes you are shooting from a 20-30 yard distance.
Where to go from here?
I’d like to believe that I’ve done all the work for you in the hunting bow chart above. Basically, all you need to do is this:
- Decide on a budget.
- Refer to my advice above and specify what kind of draw weight you need on your bow.
Now just use to the chart above and pick the bow that meets your needs.