Outdoors blog

Pope and Young OKs lighted nocks for bowhunting records

Jim Sutton of Spokane displays arrows with lighted nocks, which he believes should be allowed for hunting in Washington. (Rich Landers)
Jim Sutton of Spokane displays arrows with lighted nocks, which he believes should be allowed for hunting in Washington. (Rich Landers)

HUNTING -- A Spokane man's four-year crusade to make lighted nocks allowable for archery hunters -- as a means of reducing wounding loss, among other things -- has found his ultimate reward.

The Pope and Young Club, the bowhunting record-keeping group for big-game trophies since 1961, has voted to make an exception to its ban on electronic equipment for taking animals submitted for archery records.

Jim Sutton, president of the Inland Northwest Wildlife Council, started his campaign by showing up at public game-rule meetings, writing letters and testifying before the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission -- often with his daughter.  Over and over they made the case that the state should allow bowhunters to use the electronic devises, since they gave the hunter no killing advantage but a big advantage in finding wounded game and recovering arrows from the field.

The Suttons' proposal was slow to be accepted, but gained backing by most archers, save for the traditionalists.

Once the state made the exception in 2013, Sutton and others turned their attention to convincing the members of Pope and Young. He knew that even though it was finally legal to use lighted nocks in Washington, many hunters would not use them if it would disqualify a once-in-a-lifetime trophy from being recognized in the record books.

Last week, he proudly sent me this memo from Pope and Young:

Lighted Nocks will be Acceptable; Other By-law Changes Passed

TO:  Pope and Young Club Members,

Standard lighted nocks and bow-mounted cameras will be exempted from the "no electronics attached to the bow or arrow" rule, as a result of changes to the Club's By-laws that had passed a vote of the Board of Directors and passed ratification by the voting membership.

Since the late 1980s, the Club has had bowhunting equipment definitions and a Rule of Fair Chase that addresses electronic devices. Among other things, those stated "no electronics attached to the bow or arrow." This is part of the Club's By-laws constitution and governs the acceptability of animals for entry into the Club's Records Program ("the record book").

The significant change, the result of much internal discussion/debate over many years, creates exemptions that read as follows:

  • RULES OF FAIR CHASE #7: [Not] by the use of electronic devices for attracting, locating or pursuing game, or guiding the hunter to such game, or by the use of a bow or arrow to which any electronic device is attached, with the exception of lighted nocks and recording devices that cast no light towards the target and do not aid in rangefinding, sighting or shooting the bow.
  • DEFINITION OF A HUNTING BOW, EXCLUSIONS #2:  Electronic or battery-powered devices shall not be attached to a hunting bow, with the exception of recording devices that cast no light towards the target and do not aid in rangefinding, sighting or shooting the bow.
  • DEFINITION OF A HUNTING ARROW, EXCLUSIONS #1:  No electronic or battery-powered devices shall be attached to the arrow, with the exception of lighted nocks.

This change will officially go into effect on Aug. 1, 2014, as new Fair Chase Affidavits are created and distributed to our corps of volunteer official measurers. The change IS RETROACTIVE -- meaning that animals previously taken, as well as those taken from this point forward, will now be eligible to be entered into the Records, provided they meet all other conditions/criteria.

The By-law change language passed voting membership ratification by a vote of Yes-296 (75%), No-101 (25%).




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Rich Landers
Rich Landers writes and photographs stories for a wide range of outdoors coverage, including a Sunday feature section and a Thursday column. He also writes the Outdoors Blog.

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