Hunting is a pastime enjoyed by many, with archery offering a special challenge that many hunters accept when the season arrives. But did you know there are many different special hunting seasons reserved solely for archery? The extra time is sure to keep those bows busy.
Every state in the U.S. has a branch of their state government that sets rule and regulations for that state’s hunting seasons, such as a Fish and Wildlife department or Wildlife Division. Each state is different when it comes to special archery-only seasons; finding the rules and regulations for your state is generally no harder than doing a quick search online for your state’s hunting seasons.
The Art of Bow Hunting
Archery often has its own season that is set apart from seasons involving firearms—rifles, muzzle loaders, etc.—for a number of reasons. The first is that bow hunters have gone to great lengths to get it that way. Archery hunts have a much higher difficulty level than hunts that revolves around firearms, and having a special season gives archers first crack at game that’s not been overly spooked by the sound of gunfire. Archery also requires more physical strength to operate a compound bow, recurve, or long bow, and generally involves more walking if not using a stand; you have to get closer to the game than you do with a gun. Archery also requires more skill, both in being able to get close to game and being able to hit your mark for a kill shot.
Additionally, archery is also a beast of a slightly different nature than hunting with a firearm. One reason is that in most states there are not mandatory training classes for those using a bow as with a firearm. There are classes, they just generally are not mandatory. Similarly, archers might not be required to wear orange, opting instead for the full camouflage that allows a hunter to get closer to game. All of the differences between hunts with bows versus guns mean that archers benefit when they can enjoy an archery-only season.
A Look at Game and Individual States
There are many different types of game when it comes to special archery-only seasons, and each state has different dates, rules, and regulations for its archery seasons. For instance, in New York, some zones of the state offer early bow hunting for deer about a month before regular season, and about two weeks after. In one zone close to New York City, bow hunting is the only option. The same is true for black bear season. Generally, for other common game—turkey and small game like rabbits—you can use a bow, but there is no special season. States with similar archery-only seasons include Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia, Georgia, and many more.
Some states with unique game may or may not offer a special archery-only season. In Florida, hunters enjoy archery-only season for deer, turkey, quail, and gray squirrel, while game like wild hogs, raccoons, oppossum, and coyotes can be hunted year-round by bow or firearm. In Texas, there are special archery seasons for mule deer, white-tail deer, and turkey only. In Oregon, there is no archery season for black bears, but there is one for Pronghorn Sheep, deer, and Elk. In Montana, bow hunters enjoy a special season for Antelope, Bighorn Sheep and Elk as well as for Black Bear and deer.
Research the archery options in your state, and enjoy the great outdoors!