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Recovery Rates of Bowhunting Deer

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Recovery Rates of Bowhunting Deer

Old 02-18-2010, 08:37 AM
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Originally Posted by teedub31
Recovery rate is all well and good especially from the PR side. But what really need to be evaluated is the success rate of killing a deer (recovered or not).
How are you defining "success rate"?

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Old 02-18-2010, 09:02 AM
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Here's my recollection - I am guess-timating that I have hit about 125-130 deer over the past 40 or so years. I don't keep count. But usually bag 4-5 deer each season with my archery gear .... practically all does. Most fell dead within 200-300 yards and took maybe 15 minutes of tracking to find. Only a few, maybe 10-15, fell within sight.

I say with 100% certainty that I have flat out missed 13, including a fine 10 point, and failed to recover 6 that I hit. I think that may be I am so sure of these numbers because I went over and over the circumstances of those incidents many times as I tried to figure out how I screwed up. Man I hate to wound a critter, because you never know how much that animal suffered before it died.
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Old 02-18-2010, 10:00 AM
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Originally Posted by fshafly2
How are you defining "success rate"?


Well my comment is from a deer management veiw strictly that wants a deer removed from the population. Dead is dead wether recovered or not. For bowhunting to be a legitimate management tool, it needs to have a high success rate of removing deer. I have heard that the harvest rate for archery is about 25%. so make it a little higher for unrecovered deer. I am betting that more then 50% of all archery hunters never even draw their bow on an animal each year (that is a statiistic I am making up). That is not very efficient on a large scale. Now that is not to say that you can't have a bow hunting machine that can kill 10-15 deer a year in an area and help "manage the herd", but on a large scale, bowhunting will always be a niche/hobby that cannot be counted on to be a deer management tool that effectively removes X number of deer from the deer population (especially if that number happens to be quite large).
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Old 02-18-2010, 11:11 AM
Join Date: Jan 2008
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Originally Posted by vadeer
I am working on deer herd management research, specifically on the effectiveness of bow hunting as a deer management tool and recovery rates. A few decades ago there was a non-scientific survey conducted (I think it was the Camp Ripley) that suggests deer recovery rates for bow hunting were 50%. This number is unrealistically low in my personal experience. Within the last few years, I recall reading an article debunking that survey. Can anyone recall or point me to such an article or an updated study? I have the Indian Head, Md. article "Wounding Rates of WTD with Modern Archery Equipment."

Depending on the type of research you are doing, I would be really careful about citing anything to do with the Camp Ripley study. It has come under heavy criticism from both pro and anti hunting organizations, the antis saying the estimate is too high and the pros saying it is too low. I don't know of any formal studies or papers debunking it, but I believe both sides have basically accepted it as an all around bad scientific method and sampling site.
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Old 02-19-2010, 03:17 AM
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Well I've been at it for 21 years and have lost ONE single deer that wasn't recovered. Not sure exactly how many I've killed over the years but it's around..... A LOT! So I'm around 99% or so.
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Old 02-19-2010, 12:03 PM
Join Date: Nov 2009
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Originally Posted by cptleo1
I will probably get flamed for this, but, a man has to do what he has to do.

I think all of these surveys have one major flaw, they assume the hunters are telling the truth about the # of shots taken.

I think forums like these are NOT a good source of information on this subject.

I notice that many of the guys that responded to this question have 700 to 5000 posts and over 20 yrs experience.

Guys like this usually have thousands of dollars in equipment, shoot several times a week year round.

This is NOT your typical (unfortunately) bow hunter.

I believe there are close to 3,000,000 bow licenses sold yearly and the respondents here are in the top tier of our sport.

I think the AVERAGE bow hunter out there shoots 3-4 times a year a just before season, has a bow that has been sitting in the closet for 11 months, is way out of tune and is a member of 'brown is down mentality'.

These guys hunt 2-3 weekends a year, just to get an extended season.

Go to Walmart, Bass Pro,Cabelas the night before opening day and watch and listen to 'bow hunters' there.

It is heartbreaking.

Go to a public WMA and watch the guys coming out of the woods - mismatched arrows, 5 year old broad heads that have never been sharpened, sights with the adjustment screws rusted tight - borrowed equipment - Blah, Blah, Blah.

These guys knowledge about range estimation, effective range, shot placement and tracking is lacking.

I would think these guys recovery rate has got to be less than 33%.

Someone mentioned that recovery rates have gotten better because the equipment has gotten so much better.

That might be so - if you dedicate the time and effort to practice and get proficient with it.

It baffles me, that most states require a hunter safety course for gun hunting and very few have an archery Hunter safety requirement.

I have a friend who is a game warden in TX, he worked for two years on a WMA that was draw hunt only (a very hard hunt to draw).

Part of the requirements for this hunt - You had to hit a 7" pie plate 3 out of 5 @25yds with broad head tipped arrows.

The guys who drew this hunt knew for months that they got the hunt.

You get two tries to qualify = 40% failure rate!

Sad - very sad.

Not to be bashing the bow hunters exclusively the Orange Army is no better -

I think the solution to this problem lies with the better Bow hunters out there.

All of us know these fair weather hunters and need to drag these guys (kicking and screaming if need be) to the range during the summer, maybe a few 3D shoots.

We need to get these guys out there and get them practicing some more, at least thinking about bow hunting and preaching ethics.

We the hunters need to police our own and make the sport better for all.

Then and only then can we get the recovery rates to where the need to be.

I don't mean to come off as anti-hunting.

I harvested my first buck in 1964 - I practiced for a year and a half with that old Ben Pearson re-curve before my uncle was satisfied that I was proficient enough to hunt.

I have harvested over 150 game animals - I lost more animals in the first 5 years than in the next 30.

Hunting is a skill that requires training and practice to become proficient.

That 70% harvest rate someone mentioned sounded pretty good till I ran the numbers - If you hit 150 deer in your career - 45 would have hobbled off wounded, to die later - I know we can do better.

I have read many of the wounding reports - new and old - and I believe the spread goes from 15 - 85% - This spread alone leads me to believe that they are not statistically viable.

It is up the guys that have acquired the skills necessary to be a good bow hunter are OBLIGATED to pass it on.

This is the only way we can defeat the Anti's and grow our sport in a responsible way.

Sorry this got so long, but

I was raised with a simple mantra "The only one who suffers when we make a mistake hunting, is the deer"

Great post and unfortunately very true.
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Old 02-20-2010, 04:08 AM
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While cptleo1 makes some good points, I'd like to respond to a few of his comments.

Originally Posted by cptleo1
That 70% harvest rate someone mentioned sounded pretty good till I ran the numbers - If you hit 150 deer in your career - 45 would have hobbled off wounded, to die later
There is very little research on the mortality rates of unrecovered archery-wounded deer. Two published studies do report that most hit-but-not-recovered (HBNR) do survive wounding. The AR crowd claims that all HBNR deer die from their wounds - this is simply not true. We (bowhunters) need to be aware of this.

Originally Posted by cptleo1
I have read many of the wounding reports - new and old - and I believe the spread goes from 15 - 85% - This spread alone leads me to believe that they are not statistically viable.
I too have read either the wounding reports or their summaries, and I disagree with your assessment. There are 19 wounding studies/reports published between 1963 and 1989 that report wounding rates from 7% to 68% (average for all reports is 55%).

Here are wounding rates for the 4 most recent studies:

Publishing Date---- Wounding Rate ----------Remarks
1999 -------------------------17% -----------(IBEP, proficiency testing)
2002------------------------- 14% -----------(IBEP, proficiency testing)
2002------------------------- 13%----------- (Very high hunter density)
2008------------------------- 18%----------- (IBEP, proficiency testing)

These recent studies do show some statistical consistency, imho. The requirements for education (International Bowhunter Education Program) and proficiency testing may have some bearing.


Last edited by fshafly2; 02-22-2010 at 12:47 PM. Reason: Corrected "49 to 68%" to "7 to 68%
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