Archery hunting season expands

Published 9:17 pm Saturday, August 13, 2011

Archery hunting season for deer is being expanded in Suffolk this coming season, as the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries is including Suffolk in a new Urban Archery Season before and after the statewide archery seasons.

Urban Archery Season will be Sept. 3-30 and Jan. 9-March 31, bookending the state’s Early Archery Season for deer hunting, Oct. 1-Nov. 18, and the Late Archery Season, Dec. 1-Jan. 7.

At the request of city or county local governments, the VDGIF has been introducing the new expanded season to more urban and suburban localities, where deer population management has become more of a priority.

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During the urban season, only antlerless deer may be taken by archers. The same laws and regulations, along with the same laws about legal hunting land, remain in effect that are in place for the statewide seasons.

“Statewide we’ve been noticing the need to add more tools for deer management, and we look at this as one more tool,” said Aaron Proctor, a district wildlife biologist for the VDGIF, at a public information meeting at King’s Fork Middle School on Thursday.

“This applies only to privately owned lands hunters already had permission to hunt on, anyway,” Proctor said.

“City code prohibits bow hunting, or any type of hunting on someone else’s property, without permission,” said Suffolk Deputy City Manager Patrick Roberts.

Roberts and Proctor were two of a few speakers at the meeting, with a handful of interested hunters turning out to listen and ask a few questions.

At the city government’s request, Roberts said, the state game department board considered and approved Suffolk, Hopewell, York County and Chesterfield County for the new program in the spring. There are 34 cities, towns and counties with the Urban Archery Season in effect.

Going back to state records from 1963, there have been three fatalities during the archery season, including one which was a fatality to someone other than the archer, said Proctor. For the sake of comparison, Proctor said 65,888 bowhunters hunted for a total of 394,000 days in 2004-05.

“Basically, you’re 15 times more likely to die while swimming than while bowhunting,” Proctor said.

Deer harvested in Suffolk, by all hunting methods grew from about 2,100 in 2009 to about 2,600 in 2010.

“When the harvest is growing like that, it’s not being managed,” Proctor said.

Of 219,797 deer taken in Virginia last season, by all types of hunters, 440 were taken by bowhunters during Urban Archery Season.

“And a large number of those were from Fairfax County. They have deer coming out of their eyeballs up there,” Proctor said.

In 2010-2011, 15,579 deer were harvested by bowhunters, not including crossbow hunters, a decline of 10 percent from the 2009-10 number. The total deer population in Virginia before each hunting season is 850,000-1,000,000.

Andy Willman, president of the Kingsboro Bowmen, an archery and bowhunting club based at Lone Star Lakes Park in Chuckatuck, spoke briefly at the meeting.

The club and the park’s archery range are hosting a “5 Buck Shoot” on Aug. 28.

For a minimum donation of $5 to Hunters for the Hungry, archers can participate in a 3-D archery shoot with 30 3-D targets. No scores or awards will be given. The event’s meant to be fun, raise money for a good cause and let hunters get ready for the upcoming season. The Kingsboro Bowmen ask for no broadheads or crossbows.

Hunters for the Hungry receives, processes and distributes venison to food banks, churches, shelters and more organizations. Hunters for the Hungry provided more than 407,000 pounds of food, or 1.6 million meals, in Virginia in 2010.