Treaver Woehr is co-founder of 573 Outdoors, a bowfishing-centric outdoor brand based out of Jefferson City, Missouri. The company was officially founded in 2019 by lifelong friends Alex Brandt, Treaver Woehr, and Dalton Lage with a simple mission in mind: To change the outlook on bowfishing and become a catalyst for its growth in mainstream outdoor media. The business began as a bowfishing community page on Instagram. You can subscribe to 573 Outdoors' on YouTube.
Today, you can flip on the Outdoor Channel and see all sorts of activities. From bass fishing to buck hunting, the new age of technology has done wonders for the outdoor community via television and online streaming.
More money and notoriety continue to flood these sports which when coupled with new-age platforms, allows content creators like LunkersTV, John B, Lojo Fishing, and many more to reach audiences one would have never thought possible until recently.
Education Via YouTube
In the early 2000s, most people were only going to discover hunting or fishing was if their family member or friend introduced them to it.
Now, you can type “fishing” into the YouTube search bar and learn all about traditional and lesser-known types of fishing from scratch within hours. This opens up an entirely new world of possibilities for kids who aren’t fortunate enough to grow up in the great outdoors.
While these are certainly exciting times in the outdoor industry, one outdoor sport has been slower to gain an online identity… bowfishing.
This is not to say that bowfishing content isn’t accessible, but the people who are primarily posting online content about it are hunters and bass fishermen who try to shake things up for their fans while enjoying the occasional bowfishing outing.
While many of these content creators do a great job, the sport is really missing its own creators dedicated solely to bowfishing, just as there are many YouTubers, bloggers, and podcasters dedicated to bass fishing or deer hunting.
This could be due to stereotypes that often plague the sport, or simply because no one has taken that leap of faith yet into uncharted territory.
Why Bowfishing Will Thrive
So, let’s talk about why bowfishing has a bright future and why it should thrive online.
If you’ve heard about or seen videos of bowfishing, but aren’t familiar with the sport, you may be thinking “It’s far too barbaric to last; especially as society’s attitudes shift.”
However, bowfishing is better prepared to survive than it may seem at first glance.
The younger audience is alive and well
Most of the pictures submitted to us are from kids who are still in high school or are recently graduated.
“Okay, so we know people can do it, but it’s just so brutal. I mean, modern media can handle hooking some fish, but we are much more environmentally sensitive now, right?”
We are certainly more environmentally sensitive than in the past. But, that’s exactly why bowfishing can find acceptance.
Many of the fish we shoot are invasive species that pose a threat to the balance of the ecosystem. Even many of the other “non-invasive” targeted fish need some level of population control so that the “game fish” we all love to reel in can thrive.
Much like with deer hunting, bowfishing can serve as a means of maintaining balance in our waterways. Since bowfishing can be a powerful tool for conservation, there are not many restrictions in place currently pertaining to the number of fish one can shoot. This is something we think people could get behind and support, or at least accept out of necessity.
“Okay, so if bowfishing can grow with the times, and has a built-in future generation of capable participants, why can’t we just leave it be and hope this will be enough to carry the sport?”
In the early 2000s, bass fishing was doing well, but there was a pretty clear divide between recreational participants and its professionals.
Instead of being a passion that someone could pursue, it was deemed more of a hobby for country folk after a hard day at work or in school.
But, then YouTube came along, and before you know it, content creators emerged from the woodwork and took the sport by storm. Many individuals from different walks of life took up the sport. (Remember what we said about archery being one of the fastest growing sports in the U.S? Well, bass fishing is right there as well, thanks to these YouTubers and many others in the sport).
Sponsors have taken notice of this trend, and more attention is on the sport than ever before. Many of the tournaments can be watched on a live-feed, and before you know it, we are going to have a generation of kids that saw fishing for the first time on a phone screen.
Just like traditional fishing and hunting exposure has grown with the rise of social media, bowfishing will continue to grow as the outdoor community continues to be exposed to the sport.
But, regardless of how fast bowfishing may grow during this generation, we must be careful not to lose that peaceful connection with the outdoors that makes it so special in the 21st century.
Perhaps you have read another one of my bowfishing articles regarding the future of bowfishing, but in this article, we want to offer up some bowfishing tips that our team member, Alex Brandt, thinks every bowfisher should know for this new-age of the “eOutdoors” (the term is a slight exaggeration, but hopefully it drives home the point).
Each tip will be followed by a brief discussion of solutions to the issues cited and how we can follow the rules.
A big step in this growth process of bowfishing is gaining acceptance and coordination within the outdoor community before broadcasting to new audiences. To do this, we need to improve our reputation collectively.
These first two tips (“rules”) are dedicated to improving the reputation of the sport of bowfishing. And, if you’re new to the sport, these first two are especially important. But, even if you’re a seasoned bowfisher, a refresher is certainly always helpful.
Tip 1: Don’t dump fish in public areas or boat ramps.
Dumping fish in these areas gives bowfishers a bad reputation. Additionally, doesn’t help make the public water access points smell particularly inviting.
One alternative solution would be to find local farmers who may want to use the fish for fertilization purposes. Another option is to dump them on a large plot of personal private land where the smell would not bother anyone.
If you want to get really creative, look for a local organization that may be interested in taking on the fish. For example, some local zoos encourage bowfishers to donate excess fish to feed birds and other animals.
You could also eat the fish. But, if the sound of gar fish doesn’t exactly sound inviting to your taste buds, it’s good to know there are still options.
Tip 2: Know the laws in your area regarding species, bag limits and seasons
There are plenty of legal pitfalls when it comes to bowfishing, and you want to make sure all of your ducks in a row so no one is enjoying the sport illegally.
Be sure to call your local game warden, and they will (usually) be more than happy to let you know what the bowfishing laws are in your area before you have the chance to make a mistake.
If your game warden isn’t accessible, or the thought of doing so seems like too much of a hassle, there are tons of online resources you can find on the subject with a quick Google search.
The final tip relates to all bowfishers both old and new. This is one that was relevant years ago, but it is especially critical now. Not only does it involve preserving a positive reputation for bowfishing in the outdoor community, but it involves setting a positive example for the rest of the world as well.
Tip 3: ALWAYS be mindful of your surroundings.
Guess what? With the rise of smart phones, everyone has a camera on them all hours of the day, and the internet loves to amplify bad choices.
We lecture kids on this topic quite a lot, but they are growing up in a social media-centric world and it’s just modern-day life. To be honest, adults need a refresher in this course just as badly as the younger generation does.
All it takes is one video of someone doing something they’re not supposed to for public opinion to shift on an outdoor activity like bowfishing.
This tip has a second relevant component as well. Try to avoid fishing heavily populated areas (especially at night). And, if you must be near houses on a crowded lake, try to be conscious of where you are shining your lights.
The same can be said about music. By all means, play whatever you like until your heart is content, but be sure to turn it down for temporarily when you are near houses at night, or when passing another group of boaters.
These things are simple, common courtesy. And, as human beings, we should really try to bring more of this back into this divided world. Lead by example and don’t follow the norm, especially if it’s not the standard your parents raised you by.
Now that we have covered the “dos and don’ts” of bowfishing in this new age, let’s talk about what you need to get started.
If you’re already an avid bowfisher, you can probably skip this next section. But, if you aren’t already bowfishing on a boat surrounded by LED lights and a pricy bow, you may want to stick around.
One of the big concerns we hear with bowfishing is that it’s expensive to get into. However, this is not necessarily the case. Below is another three-step process for getting into the sport.
Just like if you were going to start learning traditional fishing and wanted to start out simple… it’s no different with bowfishing.
First, all you really need to get started is a bow with a reel and string, an arrow or two, and some polarized sunglasses. Rather than investing in a boat right off the bat, you can “test the waters” by simply finding a bank to bowfish from.
Next stop: A boat
Secondly, once you and your buddies are comfortable with the sport of bowfishing and know it’s something that you will continue to enjoy, you can start the process of looking for a boat.
Obviously, boats can be expensive. But, you can keep things pretty cheap if you hunt for deals on Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist.
Once you have acquired a boat, all you will need is a trolling motor and some cheap LED lights you can buy off Amazon to put on your new boat (even if it’s used, it’s new to you, right?)
A quick search shows us you can get a two-pack of 40-Watt LED lights for around $40. Buy three of these, and you are all decked out and ready to go!
Share your content
Now that everyone is ready to bowfish, here’s what we hope you will do… Create great bowfishing content and share it with the world!
The great thing about the evolution of technology is that you can get your start creating content with your smartphone.
You don’t have to start off with fancy cameras and GoPros. Just download some editing software onto your phone and start making movies about your life. Once you’ve gotten comfortable with this, then you can invest in some nicer equipment.
If you make videos, we guarantee it will be worth the investment.
When we started 573 Outdoors, we sat at a kitchen table and realized that documenting our lives wouldn’t just be for other people. All of our biggest catches, failures, and unforgettable experiences in the outdoors could be for us to cherish forever as well.
It is something we can show our kids someday and say, “look how ridiculous we were.”
You can’t put a price tag on documenting memories with your best buddies.
You can still send in your favorite clips to different pages to promote (and we definitely love to see that content pour in), but it is important for you to start stitching together your own videos as well.
Our fans are who have built us up so rapidly, But, we feel like it would be selfish to suggest you should send all of your experiences only to us. We care more about the longevity of the sport of bowfishing than we do our own business.
The path forward
We started 573 Outdoors to celebrate our friendship, become a part of a fantastic community, and to start a revolution in the world of bowfishing. To do that, we can’t be the only ones out here. We want to create a lasting impact on the sport.
While we love amplifying other people’s content in conjunction with our own, we don’t want to be the only ones (or one of an elite few) shouting to the masses forever.
If we can get people on board with this and gain some traction, the money will arrive and be put into the sport, leading to more popularity and more eyes.
Maybe there can even be a Major League Bowfishing tour someday as there is with bassfishing. It all starts with this next group of content creators, and if we leave a good reputation and try to make a difference, we can leave this thing a heck of a lot better off than we found it, and our sport can grow for the better.
Now, who is ready to jump into the sport of bowfishing with us?