Bow hunting on the rise

Fishing and Hunting Laws

Bow hunting on the rise

Al Smith – Guest Columnist

Over the years Ohio has been somewhat unique when it comes to deer hunting. In past decades it has had liberal limits and is not as specific on seasons as some states are. It also provides many opportunities with a long archery season, an extra gun weekend, a youth gun season and a muzzleloader season. Plus it was one of the first states to provide liberal use of a crossbow. Some states still limit the use of this weapon although more have come to realize it has become an important management tool.

With these various seasons, the philosophy of deer hunters also has changed. The deer-gun week is no longer as popular as it once was as more hunters prefer bagging a deer during archery seasons. Some reasons are obvious. The early archery season can be most pleasant to hunt. Many parents also take their sons and daughters out to hunt during this season. A crossbow is easy for a youth to handle, which is an added plus. Many females and people with some kind of health malady like this aspect, too.

The attitude toward bow hunting has changed drastically over the years.

According to the DOW only 8 percent of the total deer harvest was taken by bow hunters in 1977. That number increased to 25 percent by 1981 and climbed to 44 percent last year.

Archers continued to bag more deer than gun hunters do during the traditional gun week. According to the Ohio Division of Wildlife (DOW), for the last three years, more deer were taken during the archery season than during gun week. While archers accounted for 44 percent of the entire deer harvest last year, hunters during gun week accounted for 39 percent of the total harvest. In 1977, gun week hunters accounted for 92 percent of the total harvest, according to the wildlife agency.

According to a DOW survey following the 2014-15 deer season to examine archer proficiency and wounding rates, the wildlife agency found nearly 90 percent of harvest attempts made with a compound or traditional bow were from a treestand, while one out of four harvest attempts with a crossbow were from the ground. The average shot distance was 25 yards, and those shots resulting in a hit were almost 30 percent closer (22 yards) than those that missed (31 yards). The accuracy was above 80 percent for compounds and crossbows out to 25 yards, but dipping to below 40 percent for shots 40 yards or longer.

In 1977, there were only six gun-hunting days and that was during gun week. Nine additional gun days have been added including the youth hunt, extra gun weekend and muzzleloader season. Since a majority of hunters take only one deer during the seasons, it is only natural that the number of deer taken during gun week only have fallen.

The popularity of bow hunting has added a dimension for hunters. While some hunters no longer hunt the gun season because they bagged a deer in the early part of archery season, other hunters will participate in as many seasons as they can. They may hunt during nice fall days in October and frigid snowy days in January. In 1981, only one of three gun hunters also bow hunted, but last year, more than 75 percent of gun hunters also hunted the archery season, according to the DOW.

Some interesting numbers appear from a DOW survey on hunter participation rates during the 2015-16 deer seasons appear. The survey indicated 29 percent hunted during the bow and gun week seasons. As for just the bow season, 20 percent hunted it. Including the archery, gun week, muzzleloader and bonus gun (extra weekend), 16 percent hunted them. A total of 12 percent hunted only during gun week. Those who hunted the archery, gun week and muzzleloader seasons accounted for 8 percent. Those who hunted archery, gun week and bonus gun comprised 6 percent. Those who hunted gun week muzzleloader and bonus gun comprised 3 percent. Those who hunted gun and muzzleloader; gun week and bonus gun and archery and muzzleloader comprised 2 percent each.

Statistics and surveys can show all kinds of things and while recent surveys show archery becoming more popular, they also indicate a very diverse group of hunters who have a variety of opportunities to take a deer.

Al Smith is a freelance outdoor writer. You may contact him at flyfishman7@hotmail.com or follow him on Twitter @alsmithFL

Originally posted by LIMA NEWS at limaohio.com
October 8, 2016

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