The 2016 archery season is well underway now and will run through Jan. 8 in our area of the state. During the entire archery season hunters can harvest either sex. The bow and arrow used in today’s hunting is nothing like the equipment used by the American Indian when the first explorers arrived on the American continent.

Success in those early days depended more on the personal skill of the hunter than it does with today’s archery equipment. I am not saying that today’s archery hunting doesn’t require skill, because it does. But I am saying that the modern archery equipment is so precision tuned that it can substitute or make up for lack of hunter skills.

Archery hunting is one of the oldest techniques for harvesting game. Stone arrowheads were found in Africa that date to 50,000 BC and may indicate that Africa was the birthplace of the bow and arrow. When explorers reached America the American Indians were already masters of the long bow. The long bow was the primary instrument for taking wild game during that period.

Archery as a sport did not arrive in the United States until the late 1800s and it was not until around 1938 that Ben Pearson was credited with beginning the mass production of archery equipment. In its hay day, the Pearson company employed over 800 people. The company at one time was manufacturing 4,000 bows a day and had 50% of the bow and arrow market.

Ben Pearson died in 1971 but you can still purchase archery equipment from Ben Pearson Archery now located in Brewton, Alabama where 26 people are making a new line of Pearson archery equipment. My first bow was made by Pearson.

Archery equipment continues to evolve and it has seen many improvements and changes over the last fifty years. One big change and improvement has been with the crossbow. The crossbow dates to medieval times but it was not until the mid 1960s that the crossbow was basically reinvented.

Through the work of a Scotsman named Bernard Horton, the crossbow has become a very accurate bow for hunting. Only within the last few years has Georgia approved the crossbow as legal for taking wild game such as deer.

Some archery enthusiast frown on the modern crossbow and compound bow and will only use the recurve or longbow. Only the longbow looks similar to those bows used by the American Indian and even it is often fitted with modern sights. The modern compound bow is now the most widely used bow for hunting.

A few short years ago a hunter could invest about a hundred dollars and be outfitted for bow hunting. Today a hunter can expect to invest between $500 and $2000 for a crossbow and between $200 and $600 for a compound bow.

The high-tech equipment of today carries with it a high-cost but that archery equipment is very accurate and lethal. In fact, at moderate ranges the crossbow and to a slightly lesser degree the compound bow can be just as lethal as a rifle. The ability to mount scopes on both crossbows and compound bows have greatly increased accuracy.

The popularity of archery hunting has increased as hunters look for new challenges. Recurve bows, longbows, compound bows and crossbows (with or without sights) are all legal for hunting deer in Georgia. Only broadhead arrows can be used to harvest deer.

Deer hunters in Georgia can harvest a total of twelve deer this season. Only two of the twelve can be bucks and no more than ten can be does. One of the antlered deer must have at least four points one side of the antlers.

I remember well my first attempt to take up archery back in the early 80s. My initial practice shot with my new finely tuned bow almost turned me away from bow hunting forever. When I released that first arrow, the released bow string took a five-inch piece of hide from the area near my elbow.

I could not attempt another shot with my bow for several weeks. It took that long for my arm to heal. The moral of that story is you need to get a knowledgeable person to instruct you on properly using archery equipment before you develop bad habits or do something stupid like I initially did.

After my arm healed, I remember the first time I took my bow into the woods to actually hunt. I had practiced, practiced, practiced until I felt confident in my ability to hit my intended target. I got situated in my stand that morning and reached into my quiver for an arrow and all I had were PRACTICE arrows. Five minutes after realizing I had forgotten my broadheads, a nice deer walked within ten feet of my stand and all I could do was take a photo and admire the beautiful deer.

Archery hunters are passionate about hunting with a bow and arrow. However, it certainly is not for everyone. Archery hunting can be frustrating, expensive, hot and the biting bugs can be a problem during the early archery season but it can also be very rewarding. It takes patience and skill to harvest wild game with a bow but it can lead to success for those who endure. Good hunting and see you next week.

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