Several opinion pieces have recently focused on lighted nock use for hunting arrows. None of these authors contacted the Montana Bowhunters Association, the statewide leadership organization for bow hunters, to ask why we oppose lighted nocks. Rather, they opted to paint bow hunters as irresponsible, unethical sportsmen who wound countless big game animals and who absolutely need lighted nocks to recover animals.
Proponents of lighted nocks state that bow hunting has inordinately high wounding rates. They cite a wounding figure of about 50 percent, typically derived from anecdotal sources. In contrast, valid studies show a wounding rate of 13 to 18 percent, similar to that of rifle wounding (Camp Ripley study by Krueger, et. al. and Indian Head study by Pedersen, et. al.). One of the related findings of Pedersen’s study was that there was no difference in deer recovery metrics between compound bow and crossbow users (Pedersen, p. 31). Based upon these findings, there is clearly no advantage in allowing increased technology in order to reduce wounding rates. In fact, no studies exist which show that lighted nocks improve recovery.
The Medway Plantation study conducted in 1993 by Morton et. al. revealed a 98percent recovery rate, and cited “careful shot placement and shooting skill” as the two most important components to bow hunting success. Bow hunter education promotes these values and teaches discipline and persistence in tracking to ensure successful recovery. These qualities are far more important to ethical bow hunting than finding the “perfect” piece of technology.
There is one point made by Mr. Flynn in his Feb. 4 piece with which we can agree: the Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission has the authority to determine which equipment is appropriate to bow hunting, and that governing body should be allowed to do so. The solution doesn’t come from squandering the legislature’s time; it comes from an honest assessment by sportsmen and women of what is essential to ethical bow hunting.