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Art Lander’s Outdoors: Youth movement likely behind strong archery growth in Kentucky and U.S.

Youth participation in archery is thought to be a major factor in the growth of target archery and bow hunting in Kentucky, and across the country.

The National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) has introduced millions of kids in elementary, middle school and high school to archery across the U.S., since the program started here in 2002.

Many of the youngsters who were involved in NASP through the 14 years of the program are now adults and there’s mounting evidence that some of them have continued shooting bows and arrows, becoming involved in field archery, three-dimensional (3-D) target shooting, and/or bow hunting for deer.

A 2015 study found that of the 21.6 million archers in the U.S. about 45 percent shoot target archery only, and that 78 percent of archery participants were male (16.85 million) and 22 percent were female (4.75 million). (Photo Provided)A 2015 study found that of the 21.6 million archers in the U.S. about 45 percent shoot target archery only, and that 78 percent of archery participants were male (16.85 million) and 22 percent were female (4.75 million). (Photo Provided)

“Schools in 47 states are now in NASP, and each school day 2.4 million kids shoot target archery at school,” said Lisa Frye, state NASP coordinator, at the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “Today, we have 185 Kentucky schools in the program, and this year 10,945 kids took part in regional tournaments across Kentucky.”

Delaware, Rhode Island and Vermont are the only states that don’t have schools involved in NASP.

A 2015 survey commissioned by the Archery Trade Association (ATA) found that archery participation in the U.S. climbed about 14 percent from 2012 to 2014.

Nationwide, an estimated 21.6 million persons shoot bows and arrows. The next survey is planned for 2017.

Groups within the archery industry are finding out that involvement in target shooting at an early age leads many boys and girls into bow hunting.

The International Bowhunting Organization (IBO), based in Vermillion, Ohio, has partnered with NASP, by offering youth shooters at the NASP national tournament in Louisville, the opportunity to shoot 3-D animal targets.

“Our goal as a bowhunting organization is to create a bridge between the classroom experience and the outdoors,” said Bryan Marcum, IBO president. “We are an advocate for all things bowhunting.

Participation in the IBO 3-D Challenge at the NASP national tournament has grown by 62 percent since 2014. “This year we had 3,416 youth archers take part in our event,” said Marcum.

Founded in 1984, IBO pioneered the tournament concept of archers shooting at 3-D animal targets at unknown distances. Two national IBO tournaments are held in Kentucky annually.

Kentucky Bow Hunters

It’s unknown exactly how many people hunt with bows and arrows in Kentucky.

That’s because there is no bow hunting permit, per se. Both archery and firearms hunters need only buy a hunting license and deer permit, to hunt deer, so it’s an educated guess how many license holders are hunting with bows and arrows.

“Archery participation is increasing, but we are still a gun hunting dominated state,” said Gabe Jenkins, deer and elk program coordinator for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “But we do know that many of our deer hunters take part in archery, muzzleloader and modern gun season.”

Jenkins said his best guess is that Kentucky has about 50,000 bow hunters.

The majority of deer taken each season are harvested during Kentucky’s five firearms seasons — two youth seasons, two seasons restricted to muzzleloading firearms, and modern gun season for deer.

During the past five seasons, the number of deer taken with firearms has climbed steadily, from 83,363 during the 2011 season, to 109,179, in 2015. That’s a 30.96 percent increase. The number of deer taken during modern gun season for deer accounts for about 70 percent of the overall harvest.

To gauge the impact of NASP on bow hunting participation would require an indepth bow hunter survey, that would answer such questions as how bow hunters under the age of 25 were introduced to the sport, and how many boys and girls became interested in hunting with bows and arrows, after shooting targets at school.

Archery Deer Harvest in Kentucky

One fact that may be a clue to NASP’s impact on bow hunting participation in Kentucky is the big increase in deer harvest by archers in recent years.

Since NASP started in 2002, the deer harvest by archers in Kentucky has grown by 80.2 percent. Last year bow hunters took a record 23,323 deer.

Other factors may also be helping to drive the archery deer harvest in Kentucky: growing deer herds throughout most of the state, high density deer herds in the Zone 1 counties, liberal bag limits and a 4 1/2-month archery season statewide, and advances in archery equipment that have helped archery hunters be more successful at taking deer.

Of the top five counties in terms of archery deer harvest last season: Crittenden 574; Hopkins, 540; Christian, 460; Breckinridge, 438, and Webster and Owen (tie), 403, all are Zone 1 counties this season, except for Breckinridge, which is a Zone 2.

But, year to year, weather and the amount of mast available to deer often has more of an impact on the overall deer harvest, than the number of hunters afield. This season is a prime example.

On the opening three days (Labor Day weekend) of archery season, bow hunters took a record 1,746 deer. “The weather was unseasonably cool and hunters took advantage of (good hunting conditions),” said Jenkins. “Then it turned dry and hot across the state (for the remainder of the month), and the deer harvest for September declined back to numbers similar to 2011 and 2012 (5,009 deer).”

The deer harvest for the two-day early muzzleloader season (October 15-16) was just 2,988, a 63.8 percent decline from the 8,262 deer taken during the 2015 season. “High winds, 80 degree day time temperatures, nearly a bumper crop of acorns hitting the ground and a full moon all played into account for the sharp decline in the harvest,” said Jenkins.

National Archery Survey Findings

Here’s some other findings from the 2015 national archery survey:

* The increase in archery/bow hunting participation mirrors a growth in federal excise taxes collected from the sales of bows and arrows between 2012 and 2014. These funds are sent back to the states through the Pittman-Robertson Act (Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act), for wildlife management programs.

Taxes on archery gear rose from $44.38 million in 2012 to $55.13 million in 2014.

* The study found 78 percent of archery participants were male (16.85 million) and 22 percent were female (4.75 million). Archers were typically younger than non-archers, more often rural than urban, typically from homes with firearms, and more common in the Midwest.

*Of the 21.6 million American archers, about 45 percent shoot target archery only, while 24 percent identified themselves as strictly bow hunters. The other 31 percent said they bow hunt and shoot target archery.
Therefore, 55 percent of archers, about 11.9 million Americans, bow hunted the previous year, which is up from the 8.4 million reported bowhunters in 2012.

* The survey also shed some light on participation levels between archers.

Among target-only archers: 34 percent participated no more than five days the previous year; 24 percent shot 21 or more days; 32 percent shot six to 20 days.

For bow hunters, 25 percent hunted no more than five days; 42 percent hunted six to 20 days, and 22 percent hunted 21 or more days.

* The study zeroed in on archery’s “fun factor.” It found that 93 percent of all archery participants shoot casually or just for the fun of it, 48 percent shoot in preparation to bow hunt, and 9 percent shoot in preparation to compete in leagues or tournaments.

* The survey provided a snapshot of gear preferences for target archers and bow hunters, many of whom shoot more than one type of bow.

Among target archers: 71 percent shoot compound bows; 25 percent shoot recurves, and 15 percent shoot crossbows.

Among bow hunters: 83 percent shoot compound bows, 23 percent shoot crossbows, and 11 percent shoot recurves.

Another newsworthy finding from the study was that of all U.S. hunters, 29.9 percent shoot firearms and bows, while 5.8 percent bow hunt exclusively.

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1Art Lander Jr.1Art Lander Jr.Art Lander Jr. is outdoors editor for KyForward. He is a native Kentuckian, a graduate of Western Kentucky University and a life-long hunter, angler, gardener and nature enthusiast. He has worked as a newspaper columnist, magazine journalist and author and is a former staff writer for Kentucky Afield Magazine, editor of the annual Kentucky Hunting & Trapping Guide and Kentucky Spring Hunting Guide, and co-writer of the Kentucky Afield Outdoors newspaper column.

 

In our free society, wildlife is held in trust for public use.

This philosophy is called the North American model of wildlife conservation. Wildlife is managed by state, federal and provincial fish and wildlife agencies at optimal population levels, for all citizens, in perpetuity.

This is in stark contrast to Europe, where their philosophy of wildlife management dates back to the era of medieval feudalism. Wildlife is owned by the landowner and access is privatized and commercialized.

The North American model of wildlife conservation embraces the concept of “fair chase,” and rejects the notion of game animals raised as livestock, and taken in fenced enclosures (Photo Provided)The North American model of wildlife conservation embraces the concept of “fair chase,” and rejects the notion of game animals raised as livestock, and taken in fenced enclosures (Photo Provided)

The North American model of wildlife conservation has some ethical components as well — embracing the concept of “fair chase,” and rejecting the notion of game animals raised as livestock, and taken in fenced enclosures. Wildlife (specifically game animals) held in captivity have had many adverse impacts. Two of the most notable examples are: 1) The escape of non-native European wild boars from fenced enclosures, which helped fuel the spread of feral hogs, and 2) Deer and elk raised behind fences, and bought and sold to other captive herds, helped spread Chronic Wasting Disease, a fatal neurological disease that affects members of the deer family.

Our conservation model, which is a set of principles that has guided wildlife management and conservation in the U.S. and Canada, had its origins in 19th century.

A conservation movement was spawned when a coalition of sportsmen, foresters and biologists, began to advocate for the preservation of wilderness areas, and the sound management of forests, and fish and wildlife resources. This came at a time when the continent’s seemingly endless bounty of resources were being over-exploited, and many species were close to extinction.

The core principles of the North American model of wildlife conservation have become the basis for policies developed by many conservation organizations, and the model has been widely accepted by wildlife professionals, U.S. and Canadian fish and wildlife agencies, and endorsed by teaching institutions.

Some of the other core principles of the model include:

* Commercial hunting and the sale of wildlife is prohibited to ensure the sustainability of wildlife populations. The Lacey Act effectively made market hunting illegal in the U.S., and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act granted international protections to birds and bird parts (feathers) that were being commercially exploited.

* Laws, created with public input, will determine if, when or how fish and wildlife resources may be taken, and extend special protections to game and non-game species in peril. This tenet led to the creation of landmark laws such as the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and the Endangered Species Act.

For more outdoors news and information, see Art Lander’s Outdoors on KyForward.

* Through treaties and cooperation between fish and wildlife management agencies in neighboring countries and continents, migratory wildlife is managed as an international resource.

* Wildlife laws and policies are based on science. This tenet draws from the writings of Aldo Leopold (Jan. 11, 1887 – April 21, 1948), the ecologist, forester, conservationist, and environmentalist, who was a professor at the University of Wisconsin. Leopold wrote a series of essays on land ethics, published posthumously as A Sand County Almanac (1949).

Considered to be one of the founders of modern wildlife management, Leopold thought wildlife should be managed by trained wildlife biologists that made decisions based on facts, professional experience, and commitment to shared underlying principles.

* Hunting should be open to everyone. Theodore Roosevelt, a two-term Republican President (1901-09), avid hunter and naturalist, was also an advocate for the idea that access to hunting would result in many benefits to society.

The right to hunt in the U.S. and Canada by citizens of good standing with the law is in contrast to nations where hunting is restricted to people with wealth, land ownership, or other special privileges.

This tenet supports access to firearms and hunting opportunities, which help fund conservation, through excise taxes and hunting license sales.

1Art Lander Jr.1Art Lander Jr.Art Lander Jr. is outdoors editor for KyForward. He is a native Kentuckian, a graduate of Western Kentucky University and a life-long hunter, angler, gardener and nature enthusiast. He has worked as a newspaper columnist, magazine journalist and author and is a former staff writer for Kentucky Afield Magazine, editor of the annual Kentucky Hunting & Trapping Guide and Kentucky Spring Hunting Guide, and co-writer of the Kentucky Afield Outdoors newspaper column.

The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources encourages deer hunters to participate in a new online survey about deer hunting and management in Kentucky.

The survey is available at www.research.net/r/KYDeerInput2016 through Sept. 9.

“We’ve not surveyed our hunters in a long time,” said Gabe Jenkins, deer program coordinator for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. “Hunters in Kentucky are harvesting record numbers of deer and the state is producing a lot of trophy bucks each season. But maybe there are some things that could be done better. We want to give everybody a voice, and the survey provides a direct line of communication.”

Public input on Kentucky's deer program will be accepted through Sept. 9 (Photo Provided)Public input on Kentucky's deer program will be accepted through Sept. 9 (Photo Provided)

The survey is the first of its kind in more than a decade. It gauges hunter distribution, hunting habits and hunter satisfaction. The 46 questions cover a range of topics, including buck and doe harvest, season structure and season length, youth and mentor opportunities, legal equipment and alternative hunting methods.

“There are a handful of questions about populations,” Jenkins said. “I’m interested in what people on the ground are seeing. Are they seeing more deer or less deer compared to five, 10 years ago? And what are their feelings about that? Are we achieving what we need to achieve?”

Earlier this year, the department selected 2,500 resident and non-resident deer hunters at random to take the same survey and establish baseline data.
Potential changes stemming from the results of the survey will be carefully considered before recommendations are presented to the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Commission.

“We’re not going to be out to move quickly or do anything fast,” Jenkins said. “We’re going to take our time and be strategic.”

From F&W Communications

Date: 09-15-2016

Jenny Wiley State Park welcomes elk enthusiasts

 

Jenny Wiley State Report Park welcomed elk enthusiasts and hunters to its annual Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Eastern Kentucky Elk and Hunting Expo last weekend. This weekend, the park is hosting its annual Elk Night buffet and starting its elk tour season.

The Eastern Kentucky Elk and Hunting Expo was held Friday and Saturday and featured demonstrations, vendors and guides for bow and rifle hunters, information on taxidermy, a Kentucky Speedway ticket giveaway and concessions that included elk chili.

Elk Night will feature elk roast carved on the line, Hunter’s Chili, elk meat loaf, pulled elk, catfish, chicken and other items from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 18, at the Wilkinson-Stumbo Convention Center. The meal is $18.95 per person, $8.95 per child age six to 12 years old and free to children age five and under.

Park staff will host the first elk tour of the season the following day.

The park sponsors elk tours throughout the winter months, when elk are more easily located in Eastern Kentucky areas.

Elk were introduced to Kentucky in 1997 via a restoration project that brought more than 1,500 elk to the state between 1997 and 2003. Now, the state’s elk herd tops 10,000 elk, and most of them are located on reclaimed surface mines in Eastern Kentucky.

The tours, which cost $30 for adults and $15 per child age 12 and under, include transportation to elk viewing sites and a continental breakfast. Tour packages at the park include lodging, dinner and the tour.

The first elk tour will begin at 5:30 a.m. on Sept. 17, and another tour will leave the park at 4 p.m. that day.

Other morning tour dates include Sept. 18, Sept. 24, Sept. 25, Oct. 15, Oct. 16, Oct. 30, Nov. 5, Nov. 26, Dec. 3, Jan. 21, Feb. 4, Feb. 18, Feb. 25, March 4 and March 11.

Evening tours include Sept. 17, Sept. 24, Oct. 15, Oct. 29, Nov. 5, Nov. 26, Dec. 3, Feb. 4, Feb. 18, Feb. 25, March 4 and March 11.

For more information, call, (606) 889-1790. Early registration is recommended, as tours fill up quickly.

Floyd County Chronicle

Kentucky’s archery season for deer opens one month from today, on Sept. 3, 2016. Now is the time for landowners and hunters to finalize preparations.

The 136-day season extends for parts of five months, through Jan. 16, 2017.

Pre-season preparations include: getting archery equipment checked out by a trusted archery technician, zeroing in on quality practice, seasonal mowing of hunting areas, setting out trail cameras, and trimming vegetation around treestands and ground blinds.

It takes a lot of work and attention to detail to be successful when hunting with a bow and arrow. Here’s some tips:

Gear Tuneup

Take your hunting bow to a trusted technician and have it checked out, top to bottom, especially the bow string. Your bow string may look okay, but it could be weakened under the center serving, where the arrow is attached to a nock or string loop. Bow strings stretch over time and hundreds of shots. That gets your bow out of tune, so that it shoots erratically and inconsistently.

Summer deer are relaxed and frequent open fields at dusk. But after bucks shed the velvet on their antlers in August, and testosterone levels rise, they change their daily patterns and will not tolerate human presence  (Photo by Brandon Broderick)Summer deer are relaxed and frequent open fields at dusk. But after bucks shed the velvet on their antlers in August, and testosterone levels rise, they change their daily patterns and will not tolerate human presence (Photo by Brandon Broderick)
If you plan to change vital equipment, don’t wait, do it now.For most people it takes several weeks to adjust to a new arrow rest or bow sight. It takes longer than you would think to sight in your bow when there’s been a change in equipment.
 

For most people it takes several weeks to adjust to a new arrow rest or bow sight. It takes longer than you would think to sight in your bow when there’s been a change in equipment.

Inspect carbon arrows carefully. Make sure they are free of cracks. Replace damaged fletching or nocks and be certain that the weight of your field points (practice points) are the same weight as your hunting broadheads. Set aside one broadhead for practice. As opening day of archery deer season approaches, sight in your bow with your practice broadhead.

Practice As If You Were Hunting

When you start practicing, take it slow. Don’t shoot too many arrows at first. Ease into it. Shoot a few arrows a day to build muscles back up.

Sloppy practice is bad practice, even in the beginning. Concentrate. Get back into the rhythm of archery. Make every arrow count. Get your draw routine and anchor point imprinted in your brain.

Practice as if you were hunting. If you are going to hunt from a ground blind, practice shooting from the chair or stool you will be sitting on in the blind.

If you are going to be hunting from a treestand, try to practice from an elevated position. Shoot from different distances so you’ll know your range limit.

When the season opens and you draw on a deer, your mind and body should be on auto-pilot. Archery is part mental, part muscle memory. Be ready.

Seasonal Mowing

By the first week of August deer fawns are old enough to run at their mother’s side to escape danger, there’s no risk of running over them with a tractor in high weeds.

Pre-season mowing should concentrate on opening up clearings where you will be hunting and creating access. Mowed trails through tall grass or weeds make it easy to quickly and quietly move in and out of your hunting area without being detected.

Deer are creatures of habit and will usually take the easy way through thick cover. They will walk down mowed trails, and mowed gaps in fences, which makes them easier to ambush.

Trail Cameras

In recent years, trail cameras have come into wide use because they help hunters “scout” deer in their hunting area around the clock by taking digital images or video. The images and video are stored on SD memory cards and viewed on a computer by the use of a card reader.

The small cameras are strapped on trees or fence posts, to monitor trails, funnels in the cover, entrances to bedding and feeding areas. Most hunters use trail cameras to find and study the daily patterns of a target deer, usually a mature, antlered buck.

During the late summer deer are segregated by sex, does with their fawns, and bucks in bachelor groups. It’s easy to get good photographs and video of deer feeding in open fields at dusk. Summer deer are relaxed and easy to find, and you can drive up to your camera during the midday in a truck or tractor, without fear of running off these deer.

When the season opens and you draw on a deer, your mind and body should be on auto-pilot. Archery is part mental, part muscle memory. Be ready. Early season is a good time to target does (Photo by Art Lander Jr.)When the season opens and you draw on a deer, your mind and body should be on auto-pilot. Archery is part mental, part muscle memory. Be ready. Early season is a good time to target does (Photo by Art Lander Jr.)
But after bucks shed the velvet on their antlers and testosterone levels rise, bachelor groups tend to disperse, bucks change their daily patterns and will not tolerate human presence. Trail cameras help hunters understand the changing habits of bucks as they shift from their summer patterns to pre-rut, rut and then winter patterns.

When hunting season opens, trail camera deployment and exchanging memory cards, takes a great deal of care and thought. One strategy is to place a camera in the area being hunted so that you can see what’s going on there when you are away from your treestand or ground blind. When you leave the area after hunting for the day, exchange the memory card in the camera.

As the rut approaches, trail cameras can help hunters find out when bucks start moving during daylight hours, in search of does coming into heat.

Treestand/Ground Blind Placement

Picking the right entry and exit route to your treestand or ground blind might be more important to success in deer hunting than where you actually hunt. Traveling undetected, when entering and exiting a hunting area, is a key to hunting success.

Get in fast and quiet, using gullies, creeks, standing corn, fencerows and mowed paths to shield movement. When hunting in the morning, don’t go in the woods in total darkness. Wait until there is enough light see your feet so you won’t step on sticks and make too much noise.

If a route is cluttered with downed timber or brush go in before the season and clear the way with a chainsaw. Stands should be approached from down wind, or cross wind, as long as the hunter’s scent is not being blown in the direction deer are expected to approach.

For more outdoors news and information, see Art Lander’s Outdoors on KyForward.

Stay away from your best stands on calm days. Deer can hear you approach from a long way off when it’s quiet in the woods.

Preseason, resist the temptation to sneak around your hunting area. Driving tractors and trucks around a hunting area mimics normal farm traffic, and doesn’t alert deer to danger, like a human on foot does.

Set your treestands and ground blinds well in advance of the season opening day. When trimming shooting lanes, be sure to pile up limbs away from deer trails or remove them from the area. Drape small, leafy branches over ground blinds for added camouflage.

At the beginning of archery season Kentucky deer are focused on fields of clover, alfalfa, or sprouting wheat, until the acorns ripen in September. Pick a tree which provides good cover in a fence line for your treestand, or a brushy area in the corner of the field, for a ground blind. Early in the season the wind predominately blows from the west, southwest, but frequently shifts to the northwest, with the advance of cool fronts.

The ideal positioning for hunting cool fronts is facing northwest. That way you’ll have the sun set over your left shoulder, and the wind in your face. Deer approaching from upwind won’t be able to smell you, and you’ll be hidden in the shadows as the sun moves to the western horizon.

Early in the season, concentrate on hunting in the late afternoons, especially during the first and last quarter moon periods, when the moon is a thin crescent, and positioned at 12 o’clock in the sky at dusk. That’s when deer are most likely to converge on feeding areas before dark.

Get ready now. Archery season for deer will be here in the blink of an eye.

1Art Lander Jr.1Art Lander Jr.Art Lander Jr. is outdoors editor for KyForward. He is a native Kentuckian, a graduate of Western Kentucky University and a life-long hunter, angler, gardener and nature enthusiast. He has worked as a newspaper columnist, magazine journalist and author and is a former staff writer for Kentucky Afield Magazine, editor of the annual Kentucky Hunting & Trapping Guide and Kentucky Spring Hunting Guide, and co-writer of the Kentucky Afield Outdoors newspaper column.