Slingshot Hunting: A Fun and Inexpensive Sport

Slingshot hunting - the sport of boys (and men) in many parts of the world.

So why, might you ask, does this continue to fascinate the male sex of all ages? Let's face it - guys have always liked to shoot stuff, from pointing a finger and saying BANG, to toy guns and cap pistols and BB guns, to bows and arrows and slingshots.

With slingshot hunting, you are giving your game a huge advantage. You've got to be very close to your target, and you've got to be a good shot if you hope to connect. You are using a simple and rather primitive weapon, so lots of practice is needed to become proficient.

I can say from my ample childhood experience with homemade slingshots that there is no thrill like stalking a starling or english sparrow or a rabbit with a slingshot, knowing that I may only get one shot before the game takes off.

In one place we lived when I was a kid, we had a gravel alleyway behind the back yard where my brothers and I spent countless hours practicing with our slingshots, using the rough gravel there as ammo. Not very good ammo, but cheap. After a long practice session and many dented cans, we loaded our pockets and went looking for "bad birds," like the grackles and sparrows and starlings. Shooting those was not only a sport but we congratulated ourselves on shooting pests that everyone hated.

Nowadays, people would say we were helping the environment.

Read this Slingshot Shooting expert

The Slingshot Man

How Make Your Own Slingshot

Making your own slingshot is not hard, once you round up the right materials.  Here is a simple guide.

Slingshot Hunting For Big Game

When you are hunting with a slingshot, anything bigger than a sparrow is "big game". With these, you had an even great challenge than with the pest birds. A bigger animal means precision placement of your missile, because you want a clean kill. This means head shots.

Rabbits and squirrels have lots of predators in the wild, .like cats, foxes, coyotes, so their radar systems are always on full alert. Small boys, being just another predator, register as DANGER so said small boys have to become really good stalkers. This was always an adrenaline pumping exercise for a stalker, whether or not he is successful. The stories of "the one that got away" were recounted and enjoyed by all, and each such experience was just part of the hunter's necessary training.

I enjoyed hunting rabbits more than hunting squirrels. For one thing, they were easier to get close to (if you knew what you were doing) and I think not as tough as squirrels. For the squirrels, we graduated as we grew older to .22 rifles, which are a much more efficient squirrel gathering device than slingshots.

The smallest "big game" for us were the abundant turtle doves. Season in the Midwest always opened on Sept. 1, and lasted for a month. Doves are a beautiful bird, and to this day I feed them on my back patio, but as boys we had more than an aesthetic appreciation. They were fun to stalk and we never wasted them. Every one we got we took home, plucked the feathers and cleaned them for Mom to cook.

A plucked turtledove looks just like a tiny turkey ready for the oven. We had a big family, so it took a lot of doves to give us a meal. We'd freeze them and save them up until we had enough to eat, and eat them we did. Dark meat, but very tasty.

Doves were abundant in town as well as in the country. We would roam on the outskirts of town looking for a field of concentrated birds, and we would get one now and then, but the birds in town were more used to seeing people all around, and were usually much easier to approach.

When you hunt with a slingshot and shoot enough, you will always end up with those lucky shots you can brag about. Ah, if only they were commonplace! But they made for great stories in any case.

One time when I was about 14 or so, I returned home after chasing birds for awhile, and my brother Paul was in the front yard by the street washing the family car at Dad's request. I came up and was telling him of my poor score for the day, when he suddenly dried his hands and asked if he could shoot my slingshot (he didn't have his with him). I said sure and gave him a couple of rocks.

He walked a little ways and over to the curb and let fly into the top of the large elm tree across the street. Down came a plump dove. He had seen it fly in earlier and had been thinking about how much fun it might be to take a shot. If he had told me, I probably would have taken the shot myself, but I doubt if I would have connected. It was probably at least a hundred feet or more, which counts for bragging rights in any case.

Making Your Homemade Slingshot

A slingshot is different from a sling.  Think tree fork and rubber bands and pouch.

Finding the right tree fork can be difficult.  Tree branches usually don't branch symmetrically, so it might take some time to find the perfect fork.  I still have one I got when I was 13, although it is too small now for a comfortable grip.

The real trick though is to get the right propulsion.  Latex rubber works best, but when we were kids, we would try to find an old inner tube that was natural rubber rather than synthetic.  By the fifties, these were hard to come by, and even when you found one, the rubber might not be in good shape. 

We had a friend whose dad had an auto repair shop, and sometimes we could get a chunk of good rubber from him.  The stuff was priceless!  Some guys would manage to luck out and get a whole tube and would sell strips to their buddies at a dear price..  Later, when I was in high school, I found a source for pre-cut latex slingshot bands, very nice but a little shorter than I would have liked.  I paid 25 cents a pair, which was a real bargain.

Tying the rubber strips to the fork and to the shoe leather pouch was a two man job, one to hold things in place and the other to wrap the string or light rubber band to secure things.  So it paid to stay on the good side of your brothers, else you might have to pay to get cooperation.  But most of the time we were usually pretty good about helping one another.

If you were out slingshot hunting by yourself, it was a good idea to carry two, in case one broke, since you couldn't retie stuff until you got help at home.

For light slingshots, you can make them out of heavy gauge wire manipulated into shape.  You can use the little light rubber bands you might get with your newspaper or buy at the store.  You can double them up, or tie them end to end.  This is a light duty slingshot, but it will shoot BBs or pea size gravel.  Okay for plinking, but not much good for hunting, in my opinion.

Slingshot Ammo

For us boys, getting the right slingshot ammo could be difficult or expensive.

We used ordinary rocks, but they were seldom properly shaped and tended to fly in an erratic way. Not much good for precision shooting. We would hunt through gravel wherever we could find it, looking for the roundest rocks. These we saved up for serious shooting (for big game where a miss could be a disheartening affair).

Sometimes we might get our hands on some ball bearings. This was primo stuff, the real deal.

One time I get hold of a piece of copper covered iron rod, about three-eighths in diameter. I took a hacksaw and painstakingly sawed off chucks of it. It made pretty good ammo, but was a lot of work.

On the west coast where I live now, round rocks from river gravel are pretty easy to find. I would have been willing to spend a lot of pocket change as a kid had I had access to such great stuff. Most of our gravel in Oklahoma was crushed rock, and made pretty lousy ammo.

But I have learned a couple of ways to make your own "round rocks."

Wet red clay, rolled between your palms into marble sized rounds, can work. You have to let them dry, then bake them in a campfire. They turn into brick. essentially. Being lighter than rock, you soak them and shoot them wet. Not perfect ammo, but they work in a pinch.

Another trick: buy a bag of quick set joint compound or a box of quick floor patching compound resembling the rock hard putty stuff. You have to work fast. Mix the powder about half and half by volume with sand, either masons sand or sharp quartz sand used in plaster. Add a little water, roll your marbles and set aside until they harden and dry.. Presto, round ammo.Wet before using, if you want, to add more weight.

Of course, you can buy glass marbles or commercially produced slingshot ammo - either steel or glass.

If you want to see a good selection of modern slingshots, along with many other wonderful toys for men (and boys), take a look at the link below.

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Comments 22 comments

Edwin Brown 6 years ago from Oregon, USA Author

Well, believe it or not, it has been done. Although, realistically, the slingshot was never developed for big game but for fun shooting and for small game. We're talking about the challenge of taking small game with a weapon that is primitive at best, yet very effective in capable hands.

Stephen Johnson 5 years ago

Fine site

Jose Cortes 5 years ago

Some slingshots have been modified by adding a whisker biscuit and are now capable of shooting arrows and bringing down big game.

Mendel Potok 5 years ago

Awesome! I'm not old enough in my family to own a gun, so I was thinking of what I could use to shoot stuff. My friend wanted me to buy some airforce airguns, but I think a slingshot is way better and cheaper.

Gene 5 years ago

Awesome article! Appreciated the tips on ammo, which is always a challenge unless you've got plenty of $$$. I am working on my first hand-made shooter, getting advice and looking for any tips I can find. This article was very helpful.

Edwin Brown 5 years ago from Oregon, USA Author

Thanks for your comments, Gene. Best of everything in your new shooting adventures.

kyle 5 years ago

my old grampas pellet gun is to old ow for me to use and sling shot hunting seems the way to go!

Edwin Brown 5 years ago from Oregon, USA Author

Right on. Go do it, and have a ball!

Nath Kershaw 5 years ago

i love slingshot hunting. i just bought a slingshot (because the wood around my house is very weak) but only for 5 bucks and its made of stainless steel. It shoots pretty well and i killed my first game ever. It was an indian miner bird and i think i got it in the neck

except i felt bad because i had klled an animal but i also felt good because they r the biggest pests in auz!

Edwin Brown 5 years ago from Oregon, USA Author

Well done, Nath. I always enjoyed eliminating pest birds.

Doing my part for the environment, although at the time, I just wanted to off the buggers.

jmplsnt 5 years ago

Fine blog mate; I enjoyed reading it and your writing on childhood slingshot adventures is first-rate. I am the Admin of a good slingshot forum and I'd love to hear from you there!

Edwin Brown 5 years ago from Oregon, USA Author

Glad you enjoyed it. Yeah, I'll check out your forum.

D Sheaves 5 years ago

Sling Shots are a great alternative to guns and have been used throughout history. Air Rifles and Air Arms offer a safer alternative to guns also. If you like target shooting and competitions, Modern Air Rifles can give the same thrill and satisfaction. Competitions are now held around the world. Modern Air Rifles are now very sophisticated and come in a wide variety.

Edwin Brown 5 years ago from Oregon, USA Author

Well, I'd say it's not one or the other. How about both?

See my site at

christopher 4 years ago

i love hunting with sling shots but the way i get ammo is i do the same as native americans i get a good sized rock and smash other small rocks into little pices ready to shot. also i like to hunt dove to.:)

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Skypark 4 years ago from Salt Lake City

Wow. Reading this made me remember my childhood, and the massive field behind our house which ran rampant with mice, jack rabbits, and other rodents. Slingshots were definitely the weapon of choice. There was a small airport nearby too, and as a kid, the only thing that distracted from the slingshotting of nearby rodents was the desire to learn how to fly an airplane every time one of them took off.

- Anders

Nico 3 years ago

Nice article, I love hunting with my homemade slingshots and have for 30 years. This is the ultimate challenge especially for those of us who try to go only for head shots it's very challenging.

Edwin Brown 3 years ago from Oregon, USA Author

Nico 12, I couldn't agree with you more. Slingshot hunting is the ultimate challenge, even though hunting with a bow comes close. Nice thing about slingshot hunting is, you don't need to worry about retrieving your ammunition.

When my brothers and I as kids hunted with slingshots, the biggest challenge was good ammo. Could still be a challenge unless you can find cheap marbles. And quarter inch steel is a bit small.

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huntnfish 3 years ago from Montana/Washington

I can't honestly say I've got anything with a slingshot, although its not because I never tried haha! The most primitive thing I've ever hunted with was a blowgun, which is a lot of fun as well. As I've got older though, it seems like more and more I just reach for a shotgun or rifle, which just really doesn't get my blood pumping quite like running around the backyard with a homemade bow and arrow or slingshot like I did as a kid.

Edwin Brown 3 years ago from Oregon, USA Author

Yeah, I know what you mean. Hunting with a gun, as much as I enjoy it, is just too easy. I can remember when as a kid, stalking a rabbit or turtle dove, I would be so excited I would get the shakes and then it was really hard to get off a decent shot.

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peachpurple 22 months ago from Home Sweet Home

my dad used to play the sling shot during his younger days, trying to shoot the durian off the tree but hit the durian owner instead.

Edwin Brown 22 months ago from Oregon, USA Author

Slingshots are a lot of fun, but carelessness can lead to harm to others. I hope the durian owner was not seriously hurt.

It is good to think ahead and ask oneself where that missle might end up if the target is not impacted.

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