Bow hunting’s popularity on rise in Colorado |

Bow hunting’s popularity on rise in Colorado

John Gardner
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
Janet Urquhart/Aspen Times fileA bow hunter makes his way toward the Flat Tops Wilderness Area above Trappers Lake, outside Meeker, Colo.

A purist is by definition; a person who insists on absolute adherence to traditional rules or structures within a language or style. Below the definition could run a photo of longtime archer Walt Krom with his arm out straight, his bow stretched full, one eye closed and the other focused and still.

Along with being a Colorado Division of Wildlife Hunters Safety Course instructor and DOW volunteer, Krom is a big time bow hunter. He’s never taken anything down with the use of a firearm in 42 years of hunting.

It’s the challenge that he likes. “With a rifle you can sit on the side of a hill and take a 200-yard shot,” Krom said. “Bow hunting is a close-encounter sport. You are not going to take a long shot as with a rifle.”

Krom isn’t alone in his philosophy either. Over the past five years, the DOW has seen approximately a 16 percent increase in number of archery licenses issued for elk in Colorado (the 2008 archery season ended Sept. 27). The number of archery licenses for deer has raised less, only up 1,000 licenses over the same period. Nonetheless, popularity of the sport is on the rise. “It continues to grow,” said DOW spokesman Randy Hampton. “That is what we are seeing.”

The main reason, as Hampton sees it, is people enjoy the challenge more than with rifle hunting and people want to get back to a more primitive form of hunting.

“A lot of people it seems, as we become a more urban society, are looking for that way to connect to nature and archery hunting puts you up close,” Hampton said.

According to the DOW, while archery licenses have been on the rise, overall hunting numbers nationwide have seen a decline in recent years. To some extent, Hampton said, Colorado ” being a hunting destination ” doesn’t follow national trends in that aspect.

“Nationally, hunting has experienced a decline in overall hunting licenses sales,” Hampton said. “We see some national trends, but Colorado isn’t experiencing any declines.”

The overall number of hunting licenses for Colorado has been pretty static, according to Hampton. Total elk licenses for rifle, archery and muzzleloader seasons has declined from 247,000 issued in 2003 to 227,000 for 2007. But that is not that big of a dip according to Hampton.

One reason for Colorado’s robust hunting industry, according to Hampton, is the fact that Colorado remains the only state to offer no-resident over-the-counter elk, and unlimited elk archery licenses.

However, advancing technologies are creating a whole new challenge for the DOW but making archery hunting easier, and that may be the appeal for some hunters.

“Advancing technologies in archery and muzzle industries has really created a challenge for us in recent years,” Hampton said. “What happens is a lot of the technology is making archery hunting less primitive.”

So, the DOW has put restrictions on archery season in an attempt to preserve the natural integrity of the sport. Some restrictions include, crossbows are not allowed for archery season but can be used during rifle season. No scope or automatic loading device of arrows is permitted, as well as, no exploding arrows.

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