If I had to go based on my preference of season, I would say bow. I love being afield in October and watch the woods getting ready for Winter.
If I had to base my response on what weapon feels the best in my hands, it would be my 54 Hawken. I just love that rifle. Eventually I hope to find a full-stock flinter that gives me that kind of joy.
I answered modern gun. My reasons are these:;
1) I finally figured out I could go easy early in the year and finally get around to filling my freezer in mid-November. To me, it’s gotten so the harvest is sort of an anti-climax. Deer hunting and turkey hunting have become year-round pursuits for me. Once I stopped being so dead-set on getting as much bow hunting in as possible, it opened up a bunch of other possibilities. I can now squirrel hunt, dove hunt, turkey hunt and just be out in the woods in the early fall and leave the serious business of killing deer until mid November.
2) When I do go out, I like the idea that I’ve got a freaking death ray in my hands. Finesse has nothing to do with it. The deck is completely stacked in my favor. I’m well past the point in my hunting career where I need a method-based challenge to feel happy. The only vestige that remains is that I love reloading and I have not taken a deer with a store-bought rifle load in over a decade.
3) Over the years of doing it all, I figured out that having a rifle in my hands doesn’t mean I HAVE to take a deer at extreme range. I like taking deer with a 30-06ish rifle at what is normally considered archery ranges. To me this is the best of all worlds.
4) I was an avid bow hunter until a few years ago and my shoulder started to tell me it was time to hang it up. My eyes were also starting to go to the point where I could not see both the pins and the deer anymore. That’s okay. I’m cool with that. I got 25 years in, a few trophies, a bunch of good stories, and I can say I survived the first generation of store-bought treestands. What more is there?
5) Bow hunting is a very solitary pursuit and requires a lot of commitment. The past 8 years, I’ve been bringing two sons into the sport of deer hunting. Switching my emphasis bought me more time with them in the field.
That’s my story and I’m sticking with it.