Sunday, November 25, 2007

Regs that keep women OUT of hunting

With all the efforts out there to get women into hunting, I was surprised to learn this morning that some states have regulations that can keep women out. Check out this excerpt from a story today by Shannon Tompkins in The Houston Chronicle:

Texas is one of only 14 states where bowhunters are limited to using bows that have a minimum peak draw weight of 40 pounds; all other states with archery-only hunting seasons have lower or no minimum draw weights.

That 40-pound draw weight — basically, like lifting a 40-pound sack of sand with two fingers — was designed to limit archers to using only bows that wildlife managers figured produced enough arrow velocity and energy to be effective on white-tailed deer.

And the minimum, which has been in place for decades, applied to equipment used for bowhunting any game animal except squirrel.

But the draw-weight requirement meant a lot of young people and many women were shut out of bowhunting because they didn't have the upper-body strength to draw a 40-pound bow.
The story, which is about Texas considering a change in this regulation, goes on to say that bow technology has improved to the point that you don't necessarily need a 40-pound draw weight for an effective shot.

I'm not a bowhunter yet (give my huntress sister-in-law a few years to work on me). But if I had to meet a requirement like this, I'm not sure I could.

I'm reasonably strong and fit - hell, I have a black belt in tae kwon do - but my hands just aren't that strong.

When I went to lift this 32-pound salmon I caught on the Sacramento River earlier this year, it was a real struggle, which should be evident by the take-the-dang-picture-already look on my face.

So cheers to Texas for considering a change to the regs!


The Suburban Bushwacker said...

you'll be pleasantly surprised, when i was given my compound bow i couldn't pull it at all. but after two or three days it became quite easy.
Also compounds are held with a release tied to your wrist. easy for a black belt!

The stick bows with far less power at the archery club are very easy, unless you make the mistake of being indecisive and taking a long time to aim.
happy hunting

Michele said...

Beautiful fish though. Love your expression... had to giggle.
I love what your blog stands for as well. I do not hunt but as a fisherwoman, I generally am as well held back from a lot because they feel I don't have the knowledge because it is a "man's sport". I hear this so much out there in the field. I am hoping to change a few minds. :)
Fishing Fiesta

Holly Heyser said...

To SBW: Oh great, get me into another obsession! As if I'm not bad enough already.

To Michele: Thanks! Turns out that hen was one of the very few salmon caught out of that section of the Sacramento River this season. We got two that day, and we've heard little has been caught since then.

Interesting about women in fishing. I know that states and gear/clothing manufacturers and cable hunting shows are reaching out to women bigtime, but I don't know that I've seen the same effort for women anglers. Then again, there's a big difference between reaching out to a newby woman (easy to do) and respecting a woman with some expertise (perhaps more challenging for some).

Give 'em hell! And nice blog - I'll add you to my links.

Anonymous said...

NorCal, while I can honestly empathize with the difficulties of women getting into hunting, it's important to keep an eye on the bigger picture...namely that we do all we can to ensure a humane, clean kill.

I know that new technology has made bows more efficient and deadly, but it's also critical to understand that shooting big game with an underpowered bow is no different than shooting with too little rifle (e.g. 22 cal for hogs).

Sure, it can be done, but should it?

Going "ultra-light" requires an expertise that very few people have, and lacking perfect shot placement and timing, underpowered weapons will almost always result in messy kills at best, or crippled and lost game at worst. We all, no matter what level of experience or competence, owe it to the animals we hunt to use enough gun (or bow) to kill cleanly and quickly, even if our placement is not perfect.

There's no doubt that a minimum draw weight requirement may keep women from joining that part of the sport, but some costs are worth it. And the barrier can be overcome.

While it's initially tough to draw a heavy bow, that's part of the reason for practice. It was tough for me (and I'm not a small guy) to consistently draw my 45lb bow when I started. When I stepped up to a 52lb bow, those extra seven pounds seemed like a ton!

Only after considerable practice that developed both my strength and my technique was I able to draw comfortably and shoot accurately. I would argue that anyone, male or female, could take the same path. There are 10 year-old girls out there shooting 44lb bows, and killing deer with them.

I'm no expert, but for the beginning archer I'd always recommend starting out with a weight that you can handle, then stepping it up until you reach a reasonable hunting weight. Only then should you take a bow into the field after live game.

Sorry to get preachy, but I think we need to keep all things in perspective. Some regs are there for a good reason, and pushing to have them dropped or changed simply because they make it initially "too hard" for a small segment of the population is not necessarily an appropriate trade-off. There are still guns and crossbows for those who cannot master the archer's craft.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I didn't know about this restriction. You're right, that would keep some women from bowhunting.

It is interesting to see the hunting world evolving to welcome women who want to hunt. I'm guessing regulations like the ones in Texas will be changing.

Holly Heyser said...

Fair enough, Phillip.

But, if technology is really such that you don't need the 40-pound draw weight - as this article suggested - it doesn't make sense to stick to outdated, exclusionary regulations.

That said, for me, if I decide to take up archery and I don't have the strength to do what's needed for a clean kill, I won't do it. It's pretty much that simple!

Marian Ann Love said...

Nice catch Holly! Congrats! :)

Anonymous said...

Not trying to be argumentative here. I just think it's important to keep an eye on the bigger picture when we start trying to identify and knock down barriers... whether they're gender barriers, race barriers, or roadblocks on our favorite hiking trail.

What I'd hate to see is a bunch of new hunters out there... men, women, or children... shooting underpowered bows and crippling game simply because a reduced draw-weight restriction lets more people take up the sport.

If the technology can provide a light-weight bow with the requisite kinetic energy, speed, and penetration to ethically kill big game animals, then I'm with you. But I would like to know more about this technology, because it doesn't make sense to me.

By the way, in CA the requirement is that your bow must cast a hunting arrow at least 100 yards. Try that with a 35lb bow.

Kevin Kossowan said...

Oooh...fresh wild salmon. One of my favorite things in the whole world.
This is what happened to the last one I caught:

Holly Heyser said...

OK, Kevin, now that you brought it up, I'll confess my dark secret - the one that makes my boyfriend cringe: I really don't like how that salmon tastes - it tastes like the Sacramento River!

I think it's the first river salmon I've ever had, and it just alarms me every time I take a bite - except when the boyfriend brined it and smoked it. It pains him to hear me say it - especially considering it's a really beautiful, chromy river salmon. But it's true. Oh well!

Anonymous said...

This was very interesting. I'm not sure what the draw limits are here in Indiana, but I believe they are 30. My husband shoots a 75-lb draw, because his bow was already set up for that and he can, but he prefers around 55. He says that a 30-lb draw will deliver a good kill shot unless you have someone who can't shoot straight anyway. I don't know if I will ever shoot a compound bow, but we also have a crossbow and they are legal here, and much easier to shoot. My husband said to tell you that when (when, not if) you take up hunting with a compound bow to remember that round pulleys are easier to shoot than cam pulleys.
Very nice looking fish, by the way.