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Pope and Young allows lighted nocks for bowhunting records

Sun., June 8, 2014

Jim Sutton of Spokane holds arrows with lighted nocks. (Rich Landers)
Jim Sutton of Spokane holds arrows with lighted nocks. (Rich Landers)

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.  

They repeatedly made the case that the state should allow bowhunters to use the electronic devices, since they gave the hunter no killing advantage but a big advantage in finding wounded game and recovering arrows and their razor-sharp broadheads from the field.

Sutton’s proposal was slow to be accepted but gained backing by most of the state’s archers, save for the traditionalists, according to a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife survey.

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, Pope and Young announced the significant changes to the club’s bylaws in a memo emailed to its 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,” the memo says.

“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,” the memo said, listing the specific changes under its rules of fair chase, and definitions of hunting bow and hunting arrow exclusions.

The club will continue to reject bowhunting record entries taken with 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 range-finding, sighting or shooting the bow.”

The changes go into effect on Aug. 1. However, the change is retroactive, the club said.

Animals previously taken with lighted nocks also will be eligible to be entered into the records according to the revised rules.

The club said 75 percent of its members voted to ratify the by-law changes, while 25 percent voted no.

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