This'll stir the pot!

Ben Long

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Interesting trend line here from the most recent elk management plan in Idaho. Basically, it shows that bow and muzzleloader hunters are getting much better at killing elk, while rifle hunters are about the same. My read is there is little difference anymore between weapon classes, and begs the question of what is a "primitive" weapon. Does this matter? Does it impact you? Your elk herd? Match what you've seen/experienced in the field? Discuss...
 

MTGomer

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Interesting trend line here from the most recent elk management plan in Idaho. Basically, it shows that bow and muzzleloader hunters are getting much better at killing elk, while rifle hunters are about the same. My read is there is little difference anymore between weapon classes, and begs the question of what is a "primitive" weapon. Does this matter? Does it impact you? Your elk herd? Match what you've seen/experienced in the field? Discuss...

My thoughts don't really explain why success has changed in archery, but one thing that might be a factor in seeing nearly the same success rate.....

Do you know very many casual bow hunters? Nearly everybody I know that bow hunts is a 'real' hunter. Whatever that means. They live, breath, eat and sleep hunting. They spend a lot of time in the woods, study maps, go scouting, shoot their bow all the time, they're intelligent, physically fit, have nice gear, many have killed big bulls, some every year etc...
Also, modern compounds are lethal at 70 yards (debatably further, but not for me)

Now I know rifle hunters that do all this too.

I also know a lot of rifle hunters that shoot their gun twice the night before opener, grab a six pack, cruise the roads, glass, don't go if its below zero, can't walk far in deep snow, etc. etc..

I think regardless of weapon, if you fall into the first group I mentioned, your odds are greater than 15%. I've killed an elk every year for 15 years.

It's just that there are a lot of license holders that fall into the latter group - the fair weather- get away from the wife - social hunters. Which is fine, but there's a lot of them, and they're dragging that statistic down.
 

jrabq

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Why is there a gap around 2000, missing data?

Was there a change in the way the data was collected around then? It almost looks like a step function occurred in the archery & mzl rates around 2000, rather than a linear increase, which makes me suspicious about the "trend".

I'm not completely up on the ID regs, but I thought they had pretty stringent mzl rules that kept the technology at the more "primitive" stage. Not to say that hunters couldn't be getting better, but seems like it would be harder to link it to technology.
 

jrabq

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BenLong--So this plot is lifted from some Idaho G&F document, not from your efforts of digging up the data, correct?
 

RobG

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About all I can say is that after a week of practice with Fin's old bow I was doing fist sized groups at 40 yards (until I got beast mode and upped the poundage ;)). Pretty ridiculous improvement over even 15 years ago.
 

smarandr

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I'm not completely up on the ID regs, but I thought they had pretty stringent mzl rules that kept the technology at the more "primitive" stage.

We do. No magnifying scopes, no 209 primers, no pelletized powder and no sabots. IIRC the change occured in 07, before that pelletized powder and sabots were legal. In fact for one year they completely outlawed inline muzzle loaders, but there was such an uproar over that the commission backed off and allowed inlines with the above listed restrictions.
 
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TheTone

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I've met plenty of archery hunters over the years that I would consider casual at best; no two arrows the same in their quiver, rust covering ever bolt on the bow, multiple broken off sight pins, etc.

The unit I currently hunt may show similar trends with respect to success rate but the number of bulls killed during rifle season is about 4 times what is killed during archery.
 

JWP58

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I went from never picking up a compound bow, to shooting out to 50yds accurately in a few weeks. Quality bow/equipment really just puts the emphasis on the shooter.

For me, going archery had nothing to do with success rates. It had everything to do with weather, and bugling.
 

elkmagnet

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First keep in mind that rifle is a lot of times antlered only, muzzleloader is typically cow only and archery is usually either sex.


Ill second what MTgomer said and I'll take it a little bit further. I think there's a number of factors first being archery and muzzleloader hunters have far superior seasons which last up to three times longer. Archery is typically the entire month of September rifle is 10 or 15 days at the end of October and muzzleloader a lot of times the month of December.
Also if you look at the a\b tag structure Idaho has. A lot of the December muzzleloader hunters happened to be the archery hunters who seemed to know how to close the deal on a cow.
Obviously these are generalizations and it varies from unit to unit.
 

mtmuley

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There are a LOT of casual bowhunters. Usually throwing bugles from a 4 wheeler or the seat of a pickup. Can't categorize "serious" hunters by weapon type. mtmuley
 

Bambistew

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My thought... 90% of the game is killed by 10% of hunters. Those guys that are successful can get it done with whatever they have in their hands. The reason for the slight decline in rifle hunter success, is because those 'real' hunters are killing animals with other weapons and leaving the causal hunters to drag down success.

Very interesting to see them all converging though. Thanks for sharing.
 

elkmagnet

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There are a LOT of casual bowhunters. Usually throwing bugles from a 4 wheeler or the seat of a pickup. Can't categorize "serious" hunters by weapon type. mtmuley

There are and in no way does being a bow hunter make a person a serious hunter but..... in my area it seems the ratio is much higher with bow\muzzy hunters. I feel that archery hunting sucks people in to an obsession like it did me. Through many close encounter's and nothing to show for it you become driven to practice and dedicated. Those that don't want it bad or dont have the time to dedicate, likely switch back to a rifle.
I think the more casual hunters are choosing what they find to be the easiest option.
I don't say this to be offensive or make archery seem superior in any way. I don't have any reason to say something like that.

I'll say it this way. In this area it seem as though everyone is a hunter and when you ask them about their experiences you find out they buy a tag and go hunt one weekend a year. Most of them are rifle hunters and I find nothing wrong with that.
I also find that these "casual" hunters are the ones who oppose higher res tag fees. I believe because it may cause them to rethink their yearly hunt. For the record I would hate to see people priced out of going on a yearly hunt but we need to raise fees so something has got to give.

This phenomenon may not happen in states where you don't have to basically choose if you want to rifle or bow\muzzy hunt.
 

mtmuley

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magnet, I agree. Most hunters that do it casually probably use a rifle. Goes back to what you said about being easy. That being said, guys like that aren't hunters as I define them. Rifle hunting can be an obsession too. I sometimes wonder why I burn hundreds of rounds per year to only send one at a critter. mtmuley
 

Gerald Martin

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My thought... 90% of the game is killed by 10% of hunters. Those guys that are successful can get it done with whatever they have in their hands. The reason for the slight decline in rifle hunter success, is because those 'real' hunters are killing animals with other weapons and leaving the causal hunters to drag down success.

Very interesting to see them all converging though. Thanks for sharing.

That was my thoughts as well.
 

shoots-straight

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I couldn't find Idaho's actual bow harvest numbers, and actual archery sales to compare them. I did find Montana's and the results aren't as close.

http://fwp.mt.gov/system/modules/go...2014&List3=EL_2014&List4=All&submitButton=PDF

I know from this PDF that archerys take anywhere from 2500 to 3500 elk are year in Montana. 2014 was a big one with close to that upper range.

Rifle hunters take around 18,000 to 24,000 head a year.

That's a little more than 10% of the total harvest.

I thought that there were 45,000 archery tags sold last year, If half of those elk hunted then you would be sitting around 10% success rates. I would think that most of the 45000 hunted elk. range would be 5 to 15 %



There's still not a huge impact to the resource "overall" from archer's in my minds eye. Some areas that's not the case but overall, it's still insignificant.

With a 6 month shoulder season coming down the pipe, it's even more so a non issue.
 

mtmander

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A reason , simple , todays muzzleloader with scope and pellet powders can accurately shoot 150 to 200 yards. Compound bows are accurate over 50 yards and offer seasons when the elk are in the rut.

When the bow and muzzleloader seasons were initially set up bows were simpler and muzzleloaders used powder and caps to fire (misfires happened too) and were not as accurate as todays bows and muzzleloaders.
 

Nameless Range

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I think a lot of the factors listed above are probably correct. But, I think it is special pleading to consider anything other than improvements in equipment as the primary reason for the increase in bow hunter efficacy.

In 1982 the average compound bow was probably good up to 25 or 30 yards at most. I had a friend come over last spring who has never shot a bow, shoot a paper plate sized group at 30 yards no problem after only about a dozen shots. Many bow hunters have pins out fifty and even sixty yards.

Though I think there are different ways to deal with it ,in the name of stirring the pot I'll quote Steve Rinella's concern from his Meateater podcast episode with Land Tawney:

"We are improving the pump without increasing the well".
 
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