November 18, 2011
By Melissa Bachman
I've been lucky enough to travel across the U.S. and hunt a variety of states, but with that, I've encountered several hunting regulations I just don't understand.
First, as I traveled to Montana for my first hunt this year, I had to pull all my Lumenoks off my arrows. Granted, I have bright pink blazers and wraps, but without a Lumenok, it is extremely difficult to see where your arrow hits upon release. The idea of knowing exactly where you hit an animal only aids in the recovery of the animal.
Lumenoks allows you to make the correct decision on length of time to wait, saving many animals from being jumped too early to only run off and expire somewhere where they will never be recovered, therefore spoiling all the meat. It in no way helps a hunter take more game, but simply allows for a more successful recovery. You tell me why on earth something like this would be a bad thing. It's not just Montana, but Colorado, Oregon, Washington and maybe a few other states still have this regulation. I hope they will soon wake up and realize they are doing wildlife and bowhunters a disservice.
As bowhunters, our ultimate goal is always a successful recovery and meat in our freezer for the rest of the year. I'm not sure why the states need to make regulations that make your chance of recovery lower especially because it in no way aids you in the taking of game.
The second regulation I don't understand is also on the same recovery lines. The question is why states still resist allowing tracking dogs in a recovery situation. A big misconception is that if they allow tracking dogs, there will be dogs running rampant through the woods chasing wildlife. This couldn't be further from the truth. In states that allow tracking, they usually require the dog to be on a leash and no weapons present. This is not meant as a way to track down a wounded buck but simply a way to recover a dead animal.
Last year in Montana, for example, I shot a beautiful whitetail at 10-yards, but never found a drop of blood. Eventually after making circles around my stand through the woods, I stumbled upon the buck. I followed his path back to the tree and didn't find a drop of blood. I penetrated both lungs, but because it was such a steep angle, my arrow didn't exit and all the blood pooled up inside him. He only made it 80-yards, but it was extremely thick and I felt lucky to even stumble upon him. Pretty hard to believe you can have a double lung shot and still have trouble finding your buck, but it happens. This is a perfect example of when a tracking dog would have been helpful; a buck could have been lost had I not been extremely patient and taken my time.
As a good bowhunter, my first reaction is to always re-nock another arrow, and secondly, to watch that buck as long as possible. Sometimes this is easy, but there are certain states where the timber is just too thick to get a good read on where the buck went.
One outfitter I hunt with in Illinois has had huge success with having a tracking dog named Scout in camp. His owner, Alan Wade of Bogalusa, La., has done extensive training with Scout. Last year alone, Scout went on 24 tracks and because of him, 21 of those bucks were accounted for. Not only does that save the meat, but it also prevents hunters from taking two deer because they were unable to find their first buck.
Tracking dogs have become extremely popular in many states. However, there are still a few states that are dragging their feet in allowing dogs to be used to help in the ethical recovery of big game. One organization that has done a lot to promote, educate and inform the public on the blood tracking dogs in the United Blood Trackers. They organize blood tracking workshops, sponsor testing opportunities, and most importantly, provide people with information and advice to help establish the legal and ethical use of blood tracking dogs in their own states. As bowhunters, we want every deer recovered, so I strongly support both Lumenoks and blood tracking dogs as tool in the recovery process when needed.
What are some stupid regulations you've ran into?
The Essentials Gear Box.
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