In Ohio, hunting season might as well mean bowhunting season. While all types of hunting remain popular throughout the state’s deer hunting seasons, nearly half of all Ohio’s hunters are choosing to bring bows with them into the field.
For six years in a row, bowhunters have taken more deer in archery season than in the week of gun season. A big part of this is availability. While gun season only lasts a week with a “bonus weekend,” archery season starts in September and runs through February.
The longer season helps promote the archery hunting culture, and with it, improvements in archery hunting equipment. Even still, bowhunting is more difficult than hunting with firearms, but for many bowhunters, that’s part of the attraction.
“I think there’s a whole new challenge with bow hunting that you don’t get with gun hunting,” Corey Price tells The Columbus Dispatch. “It’s so much easier to pick up a gun and shoot something 100 yards away. But something you miss out on is the aspect of a challenge, like shooting through trees and bushes.”
Price, 23, first started hunting with his stepfather when he was 12. Now he hunts on his own, in every hunting season. He will hunt with firearms during this December’s gun hunting week and weekend, but pick up his bow for the rest of the season.
According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, bowhunters took nearly half of the deer harvest last year, culling 79,098 of the total 172,049 deer killed in the 2018-2019 season. That’s compared to one in three to one in four culls by bow as recently as 15 years ago.
Even though hunting with firearms remains popular, and relatively successful, the longer archery season is more accessible to the bulk of hunters.
“It’s a fun week, but it’s only a week,” said Brian Banbury, executive administrator of information and education with Ohio’s Division of Wildlife about gun season. “People are busy with work, school and family, so sometimes that week for gun hunting doesn’t always line up with people’s schedules.”
Ohioan Tom Vorisek, 59, took an interest in bowhunting about 40 years ago, when he realized how much longer bow season lasts.
“One week is great, but holy smokes, I have even more opportunities with bow hunting,” he said.
“Once you start to do it, it becomes very addicting,” said Vorisek. “Being alone in the woods, having the solitude, watching critters do their thing in a natural setting … There’s nothing like bow hunting a deer.”
Hunting seasons vary all across the country, but knowing how to hunt with more than just rifles and shotguns — handguns, bows and crossbows — can open a lot of pathways to the field just about everywhere.