In a major break from rules once dominated by more conservative sportsmen, a top archery hunting governing body has reversed its ban on the use of lighted nocks and shot-recording cameras in trophy bowhunting.
Since the late 1980s, the Pope and Young Club has had a bowhunting equipment definition and Rule of Fair Chase that prevented animals harvested with lighted nocks or bow-mounted cameras from being entered into the Club's Record Program. The rule banned "electronic devices attached to the bow or the arrow." This rule made lighted nocks and bow-mounted cameras totally taboo for those wanting to notch their name in the record books.
But the increasing popularity of lighted nocks like those made by Lumenok to aid in tracking and recovering an arrow, as well as the ubiquity of compact cameras to chronicle a bowhunter's outing, prompted a raging debate within Pope and Young to get with the times.
Recently, the Club's Board of Directors finally moved to change its by-laws to allow the new technology in trophy hunts.
"Hopefully this will put to rest any negative perceptions some bowhunters may have of the Club," said Pope and Young spokesman Rick Mowery. "We are not just old guys or traditionalists. We are every bowhunter, and we are a Club banded together to defend and protect bowhunting and the big game species that fire our bowhunting passions."
Pope and Young President Jim Willems said the popularity of illuminated nocks and bow cameras made the vote overwhelming.
"I was pleased to see that such a large percentage of our voting members chose to change our by-laws to allow lighted nocks and bow mounted camera," Willems said. "It is generally accepted that such equipment does not aid in harvesting an animal and can actually enhance the overall hunting experience. It's good to get the issue behind us and move on to other important matters."
The much-anticipated rule change will officially go into effect August 1 as new Fair Chase Affidavits are created and distributed to the Pope and Young Club's crop of volunteer official measurers. The change is retroactive, so animals taken before the rule change will be eligible for entry into the Pope and Yong Record Books.
Despite Pope and Young's move, several states still ban the use of illuminated nocks in bowhunting, including Idaho, Colorado and Montana. Traditional archery groups have long lobbied state game and fish departments against the use of lighted nocks and bow mounted cameras, so Pope and Young's rule change isn't sitting well with those hunters.
"The more primitive the better for us," said Idaho Traditional Bowhunters president Lee Sisco, who has lead efforts to put the kibosh on lighted nocks for the state's bowhunters.
"Most are against the technology and don't believe it fits in the bowhunting world," Sisco added in an interview. "We are going to end up high-teching ourselves right out of bowhunting."
Sisco admitted the new Pope and Young rule might take the wind out of traditional bowhunters' sails, paving the way for states with bans on the technology to overturn them.
In Colorado, for example, the rumor mill is buzzing with bowhuting chat rooms and Facebook pages indicating the state is looking to make lighted nocks legal.
Colorado Division of Wildlife officials declined to comment on any moves to overturn the ban.
"Whether you agree with the decision or not, each member should be proud of the debate that has brought us to this point," Mowery said. "The Pope and Young Club is strong and this decision proves that our members are thoughtful, well-informed bowhunters."
For more information about the Pope and Young Club rule change, visit www.pope-young.org.