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Improving Your Odds

In the United States the vast majority of big game hunters hunt with modern, center fire rifles. These rifles are typically very accurate and powerful enough to reliably and ethically kill most species of North American big game. However, the big disadvantage of using a center fire rifle exclusively is that in many parts of the country, center fire rifle season is typically the shortest season for big game, if it is even allowed at all. Coupled with the fact that this is the time when most people hunt, this makes for a short, more crowded, and potentially unsuccessful season. This is especially true when hunting on public land. One way to get around this is to hunt during one of the primitive weapons seasons. 

Hunting with a bow or a muzzleloader will significantly increase the length of hunting season available to you. For instance, last year in Georgia the white-tailed deer archery season in the northern zone ran from September 8 to October 12. Muzzleloader season ran October 13-19. The general rifle season ran from October 20 to January 1. At 11.5 weeks, Georgia has a very long general season, much longer than in many other states. However, by hunting during the archery and muzzleloader seasons, one could increase the amount of hunting time by an additional 7 weeks; that’s a 60% longer season. In other states, the difference is even more profound.

In addition to enjoying a longer season, hunting during a primitive weapons season also offers the advantage of hunting with a much smaller population of hunters. While it varies from state to state, the number of hunters using a bow or a muzzleloader may be as low as 10-20% of the number of hunters using a modern firearm. This significantly lower number of hunters means much less pressure put on the hunted animals since the woods will be less crowded. Also, the seasons for primitive weapon season in many states, especially archery, are before the general firearms season. White tailed deer are especially prone to move more at night and away from areas frequented by humans after they have experienced significant hunting pressure. By hunting with a bow or a muzzleloader, you can use those additional weeks to hunt white tailed deer while before they start reacting to pressure from the hoards of hunters that descend on the woods during the general firearms season. 

Yes, hunting with a bow or a muzzleloader does require more skill than hunting with a center fire rifle, especially with a bow. However, the additional benefits of doing so may be worth the investment of time and money to become a proficient at using a bow and/or a muzzleloader. Fortunately, muzzleloaders and archery equipment are much easier to obtain and learn to use today than they were 10-20 years ago. In addition to increasing your odds of having a successful hunting season, using a primitive weapon also gives you opportunity to spend more time enjoying the outdoors. What’s wrong with that?


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