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Bowhunter Technology : Is it Killing Our Sport?
By Toby Trigger


Why Bowhunt at all when we can use long range rifles that reach out to 500 yards with relative ease?  Ah the age old question rears its ugly head.  Well, why use a long bow when you can use a compound bound bow that can pound arrows into a 4 inch group at 50 yards?  Uh oh, where do we go from there?

Bowhunting is a limiting sport that allows hunters to experience hunting in a way that a rifle can’t rival.  Getting close is the name of the bow hunters game but there is much more to it than that.

Knowing when to draw and when not to, tuning equipment and daily practice are practical-challenge-driven aspects of bowhunting.  But what about all those times when game I just out of range, your heart is pumping with an adrenalin surge and you just can’t close the distance?  Can we put a value on that?  Nope.

So how should we feel when we have those experiences?  We just had an experience that we could never have with a rifle in our hands.  We got close and because we limited ourselves with bowhunting equipment we couldn’t fill our tag that day.  Isn’t that bowhunting?

We shouldn’t feel frustrated, at least I don’t think we should.  We should feel energized because we came close and now we have to try again if we are going to harvest an animal.  But too often the answer is more like; I need a faster bow that can shoot farther and more accurate and I need a range finder, better sights and man, if only I could have a range finder on my bow – that would make it easier!

Adding equipment that makes bowhunting easier robs archers of the experience that bow hunting is.  Bowhunting is hard.  It challenges us to be better hunters.  It makes us think about where we are putting our feet.  It forces us to make decisions and it often extends our season and our hunting time in the woods because we can’t reach those animals from here.

So what’s the big deal anyway?  Who cares if hunters add some distance to their shooting ability and so what if we can know the exact distance of our shots? Doesn’t that make us more proficient?  Isn’t that better?

Bowhunting is a self limiting sport.  We don’t need to hunt with archery equipment.  We can chose to hunt with rifles and there is nothing wrong with that – and I mean to emphasize – nothing wrong with rifles.  Rifle hunting is awesome and it has it’s own reward.

But if archery hunting seasons are to continue with long seasons and the thrill of getting close without tagging out, we must have limitations on our limitations.   How far should we take our equipment?  Have we already gone too far?  How do we know?

The FWP has designed a few simple questions to ask to help us determine if new technologies that we anticipate in the future will help or harm bowhunting, bowhunting seasons, and ultimately our sport.

The questions are here and we have until November 18th to let the FWP know what we think of this matrix.  I think the matrix is good but could be better by asking whether a new proposal makes archery equipment better without diminishing the bowhunting experience.  Things like requiring heavier arrows, fixed broadheads or minimum arrow speed might be examples.

The matrix questions are as follows, let us know what you think:

 

Archery Equipment Evaluation Matrix 

1) Does the equipment change the fundamental nature and intent of archery seasons as stated in the policy?

2)  Is the equipment likely to detract from the historical intent of Montana archery seasons, namely that the season was intended for high quality archery opportunity with relatively low harvest rates?

3) Does the equipment challenge, contradict, or lessen Montana’s principle of fair chase?

4) Does equipment have the potential to increase effective range of harvest?

5) Does this equipment have the potential to increase fish and game violations, such as shooting outside of legal shooting hours?

6) Does the equipment have the potential to increase archery harvest such that it may result in increased bowhunter impact on the resource and increase the possibility of limited permits?

7) Does the equipment have the potential to increase archery harvest such that the increased harvest either increases conflict among or within user groups or have other negative social implications such as diminished sportsman/ landowner relations?
Public Comments may be made by visiting : http://fwp.mt.gov/hunting/publicComments/2016/archeryTechnologyPolicy.html