Hunting is the primal pursuit of food, and today remains a greatly beloved pastime as well as a rite of passage and a legitimate survival skill.
Accordingly, preppers are well served to become at least serviceable hunters, and if you want to bag game you’ll need to become familiar with the tools of the trade. I’m talking about hunting weapons.
The vast majority of hunters today depend on firearms to bag their quarry, whatever it is. Small game, including rodents, are brought down by .17 and .22 caliber rim fires while larger game is the province of intermediate and larger rifle cartridges or shotguns. You can even hunt birds or delicate pray with small, light birdshot or even an air rifle.
However, one of the major shortcomings of firearms is the dramatic amount of noise they generate, even when suppressed.
Sometimes circumstances dictate that you maintain a low profile, a very low profile, when hunting and that means you’ll need to choose a weapon that is as quiet as possible so you can maintain concealment while getting the job done.
We will tell you about several such weapons in this article to give you more tools in your hunting toolbox when it is time to be discreet.
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Why Should You Care About Noise When Hunting?
If you do not care much about hunting as a pastime, or even as a survival skill or adding to your repertoire, you might wonder why one should be concerned about the noise generated by the hunting weapon. What difference does it make if you are touching off some noisy gun so long as you get the game?
There are many such reasons why. Purely concerning the outcome of the hunt itself, the loud, booming noise of a firearm will easily spook and scatter game far and wide, sending them to ground to hide.
This is especially common among game that experience frequent hunting pressure. One discharge and they know that they’re lives are officially at stake.
This means bagging follow up animals will be even more difficult, say nothing of how hard you’re going to make it on your fellow hunters.
Perhaps more germane to the purposes of survival, making noise is a great way to attract attention from other human beings, attention you probably don’t want.
Whether you have a good patch that you want to keep to yourself or you just don’t want to be found by other people who may or may not be friendly, gunfire can be heard from miles and pretty much everybody knows what it means.
A quiet weapon that generates effectively no noise or has a minimal report that cannot be heard beyond a few dozen yards will keep your private comings and goings private.
Lastly, firearms are loud, incredibly so, and one of the most common causes of spontaneous and permanent hearing damage.
Many hunters choose to hunt without hearing protection on so they do not compromise their situational awareness when listening for stealthy, perceptive prey animals and that means that at the moment they break the shot their hearing is going to suffer permanently. A quiet weapon completely eliminates this occupational hazard.
There’s no telling how different your experience will be when you aren’t worried about an extraordinarily loud noise signature from your weapon. You’ll see more and likely have more success over the long run, that’s for sure. Now, let us get on to our list.
10 Quiet Hunting Weapons that Will Help You Maintain Concealment
One of mankind’s oldest weapon systems that still remains entirely viable today for a variety of purposes but particularly for the hunting of large game.
Modern bows, especially compound bows, equipped with equally modern arrows made from high performance materials and benefiting from state-of-the-art ergonomic design and manufacturing processes are capable of feats of accuracy and power that would leave our ancestor archers completely flabbergasted.
But particularly relevant to our purposes today is that bows are quiet. Very quiet, although they generate somewhat more racket than most popular media would have you believe with only the whispery thwip of a bowstring to indicate that an arrow has been loosed at all.
Compound bows especially make a noticeable twang and clatter but this is several orders of magnitude quieter than even the quietest firearm.
Even traditional or improvised bows can prove to be quite powerful, certainly deadly, and maybe even quieter still compared to modern compound bows.
Bows of this type also have the advantage that manufacturing them is within the realm of the average person’s skill set, as is the creation of arrows using nothing more than natural materials, a few tools and the right know-how. That’s the perfect complement to any doomsday survival toolbox!
Perhaps the biggest shortcoming with the bow is how large an investment of time and effort is required in order to obtain repeatable, on demand proficiency with it.
Shooting a bow well is not easy, and shooting it under field conditions when you are already tired or fatigued is several notches harder still.
Nonetheless, bows are quiet, deadly and relatively quick to deliver follow-up shots if required, the perfect option for a savvy, sneaky prepper.
The crossbow is another ancient weapon, and one that can be even more powerful than a traditional bow.
Even better, the crossbow has the advantage of remaining cocked and ready to fire with the pull of a trigger, just like a firearm, and can even benefit from modern sighting systems like telescopic and reflex optics.
To the new arbalest, this dramatically shortens the learning curve until practical accuracy can be achieved.
It also makes the crossbow pretty much the ideal ambush weapon since a bolt can be prepared and the crossbow in hand before settling down to weight, requiring only a press of the trigger in order to loose that fatal bolt. This drastically reduces fatigue and shooter error after just a little practice.
But it isn’t all good news with crossbows. They are more expensive than traditional bows of roughly equivalent quality, as a rule, and also far bulkier and heavier. Whereas a good bow is light and nimble in the hands and easily carried, a crossbow is a comparatively clumsy contraption.
Whether or not this is a good bargain is likely dependent upon how much effort and time you are willing to invest in a traditional bow.
Also, compared to traditional bows crossbows are usually noisier, and by a significant degree. Although they are nowhere near as loud as any firearm the release of a bolt is usually accompanied by a loud, distinct clack that could reveal your position to nearby animals or humans alike.
On the other hand, if something is farther away than a hundred yards or so, they may well not know what the noise is.
For firearm hunters who are ready to make the transition into a quiet weapon system, the crossbow is ideal because it will make use of several already developed skill sets in operation.
The slingshot is commonly thought of as the toy or rather tool of choice for childhood miscreants who love nothing more than taking pot shots at stray animals and knocking holes in every unattended pain of glass.
And while it is true that many toy slingshots are capable of generating mischief and little else, a properly made slingshot is a frighteningly capable compact projectile weapon.
A slingshot relies upon an elastic band or some other elastic material to propel a small projectile, typically a pebble, marble or ball bearing, to impressive velocity and with enough practice is capable of generating equally impressive accuracy even against a moving target.
Slingshots are available in a wide variety of styles, from extended models featuring long forks and an arm brace, colloquially called starships, to the most stereotypical and compact y-shaped models made from surgical tubing and a sturdy branch.
Any can do the job if you have a good shot with the right ammo and the skills to make it happen – with a typical shooting range of 30 to 50 feet.
Slingshots are quiet, with any given shot generating only a gentle snap from the accelerating elastic bands, but they are greatly limited by range and what size game they can take depending on the ammunition.
A slingshot that is truly designed for hunting with appropriate ammo like a ceramic marble or perhaps a smaller ball bearing can bring down small and medium mammalian game reliably with a precise hit but only at close range.
Extended ranges might stun or wound the animal and allow you to close in and dispatch it, however.
The blow gun is yet another primitive weapon, and one that is optimized for bringing down small game though with a few adaptations it might work just as well on larger game also. A blow gun is a little more than a pipe that is specially adapted to fire small darts that fit inside the bore.
Depending on the length and bore of the blow gun, along with the skill and power of the user’s lungs, you can get more or less range out of a blowgun and there is definitely a trick to using these well.
Aiming with both eyes open and practicing holding the blow gun at the correct angle and elevation to put a dart on target takes practice but is largely intuitive.
Primitive cultures around the world but particularly those living in jungle and rainforest regions have relied on blow guns with handcrafted darts both as weapons of war and as hunting implements for ages.
Although the range and accuracy of a blowgun are both comparatively limited, even compared to a slingshot, they are more than capable of bringing down small game, particularly delicate creatures like birds and reptiles. In operation, blow guns are very nearly silent, emitting only a muffled shush sound when the wielder expels their breath into it.
However, when put to purposes of war or against larger game, the darts fired by a blowgun are quite infamously tipped or coated with toxic compounds, typically attained from endemic poisonous or venomous wildlife living in the region.
Making use of this insidious skill set yourself may or may not be viable depending on the resources you have at hand and how much call you have for that kind of capability, but it is nice to know that it can be done.
As always, if you bring down any animal using poison in any way you must know exactly what you are dealing with when harvesting, cleaning and then preparing the animal if you don’t want to poison yourself and anyone else who partakes of the animal’s meat.
The spear is yet another fundamental battlefield and hunting weapon, one that has been with mankind pretty much since the beginning.
Long called the king of battle in the era of rank and file close combat, the spear has also long been a viable hunting weapon capable of being used directly or thrown to bring down game at a distance.
To say that the spear is little more than a blade on a stick is not an insult but neither is it inaccurate.
Although either component can be as refined or as primitive as time, resources and skill allow the end result is largely the same. It allows the user better reach while hopefully staying safe from a counter-attack.
As you might expect, the use of a spear generates no noise on its own unless it impacts a hard surface or the user makes noise when it is being wielded or thrown. A throne spear especially makes nary a whisper as it glides through the air before hopefully impaling its target.
You might not believe it, but spears remain surprisingly popular hunting weapons in North America, Europe and throughout the rest of the world today, and not just in use by primitive peoples and low technology societies.
For hunting sturdy, dangerous game in dense territory, the spear has much to commend it and they are seen increasingly used by hunters who want to dispatch wild pigs.
The atlatl is a sort of spear launching weapon used in Central and South America for millennia and consists of a nocked or semi tubular spear holder and a long, slender dart that looks for the entire world like a miniature spear.
In use, the atlatl relies upon mechanical advantage to greatly accelerate and hurl a dart or short spear with far more power and could be generated by the user hurling the spear out of hand alone.
This is a weapon that is very much unknown to most people today, although it is still entirely viable especially because it is an easy one to craft with a little practice out of scavenged or natural materials.
An atlatl with a bundle of spears or darts could prove to be a formidable weapon indeed and just like launching a spear out of hand generates virtually no noise until the spear strikes an obstacle or the wielder generates noise in the process.
If the spear alone sounds like a great weapon for your purposes, consider investing the time and energy needed to develop proficiency with the atlatl and you’ll be able to dramatically extend your range and striking power very easily.
The bolas is a weapon consisting of two, usually three or sometimes more stones or weights connected by some sort of cordage and historically have been intended to tangle or ensnare a target to bring it down or hinder it for subsequent dispatching.
Some of these weapons are designed to kill on impact, but all require less accuracy than traditional throne weapons because the weights revolve around each other in flight, increasing the beaten zone where the weapon might be effective upon an impact.
This is yet another weapon that is entirely silent in flight until it impacts and considering how easy they are to create and easy they are to throw this is definitely a weapon that every prepper will want in their arsenal.
The bolas can serve as the first part of a dedicated one two punch against larger game, first entangling or immobilizing prior to the hunter closing in for the coup de grace.
Ultimately it can be utilized as a primary weapon against small or delicate game since it is still highly likely to kill on impact.
You can create your own version of this weapon utilizing multiple weights that are roughly the same size and heft. You might consider the use of round stones, ball bearings, even billiard balls.
Lighter objects might be used to increase range if the bolas is made larger and will rely on tangling the limbs of the target animal to bring them down.
This is a weapon where experimentation is key. The number of weights, the length of cordage between them and the positioning of the weights in the hand prior to release all affect the flight characteristics of the bolas and can adapt the weapon to different situations somewhat.
The throwing club is another weapon with global provenance. used by many cultures in civilizations around the world in one form or another, a throwing club can be as simple as a hefty stick or as advanced as a multi-part, carefully refined and crafted club capable of generating substantial power on impact.
As you were probably expecting, a throwing club is another weapon that is silent or nearly so until it makes impact, but it will raise quite a racket should it strike a hard surface like a tree, rock face or something else.
Some of the best throwing clubs are broader and heavier on one side to maximize impact and flight characteristics while being narrow and skinny on the other to serve as a functional handle and provide better leverage upon release.
Still other specialized throwing clubs can increase the margin of success in a manner similar to a bolas above.
The windmill star or cross boomerang at its simplest is nothing more than two staves connected in the middle and forming a cross with members of equal length.
Easily thrown via any one of these arms, the rotational force stabilizes the flight of the club, increasing its range while also providing a greater surface area for impact and a higher chance of success owing to the four staves protruding from the central axis.
Considering that a usable throwing club can be found simply lying on the ground and later improved or you can start out building a good one as a simple fieldcraft project, this is another good silent weapon to add to your hunting arsenal.
Some folks might not consider a net a weapon, but considering it is a tool designed to immobilize and allow the captured quarry to be subsequently killed, I believe it definitely warrants inclusion on this list.
Nets have been used for ages to capture prey in the water, what we typically associate them with, but also on land.
Nets may be dropped, thrown or otherwise launched on to animals in order to foul up their limbs and reduce their range of movement, dramatically reducing the chances in which they can fight back or attempt escape.
However, the net will serve as a minor impediment if one at all to a follow-up strike from a club, spear, bow or any other weapon.
In use today, on land the net is just about as silent as it gets, and there have been more than one or two crafty hunters who waited up in a tree or on a high perch for prey to wander beneath a pre-emplaced or hand casted net which can be dropped silently onto them.
Weaving a net by hand, even using high quality cordage, is difficult and time consuming but they are comparatively lightweight and compact when premade and folded up.
Traps come in all shapes, sizes and forms, and can range from the bewilderingly complex to the sublimely simple. But all are designed to capture or kill prey without any direct action by the trapper.
Traps may be remotely activated or victim activated, but compared to firearms traps all as a rule are pretty quiet in operation.
An errant clang, rattle or commotion is likely all that will come out of a trap that has been sprung, except of course the cries of pain and anguish coming from your wounded or cornered quarry.
The trap makers art is a complex one that could command several articles all on its own, but suffice it to say for now that most traps are designed around the prey that you want to catch and the environment that you find them, and yourself, in. you might say that there is a shoe for every foot, and there is also a trap for every animal.
Compared to the other weapons on this list, traps are the most complex to employ successfully but have the advantage of being ready and able to work on your behalf even when you are not around, and the smart trapper will set up a field or patch of traps to cover multiple approaches and contingencies.
Used in this way, these sneaky tools can bag game with very little noise and fanfare and even less work on your part.
Which One Do You Choose?
The stereotypical image of hunting today involves shooting an animal with a gun of some kind, but the noise generated by the report of a firearm, even a suppressed one, could prove to be a severe liability in the short or the long term in a survival situation.
The stress and pressure this will put on remaining animals is likely to see them flee towards quieter and safer areas whereas the noise will signal to everyone far and wide that another human is in the area and is similarly armed.
Equipping yourself with an alternate, silent or quiet option for hunting is a great way to reduce your overall signature and keep your presence a secret.
Tom Marlowe grew up with a gun in his hand, and has held all kinds of jobs in the gun industry: range safety, sales, instruction and consulting, He has the experience in helping civilian shooters figure out what firearms work best for them.