Largest State Bowhunting Org's
General Topic
Contributors to this thread:
Tilzbow 15-Sep-17
Charlie Rehor 15-Sep-17
LONEBULL 15-Sep-17
Bou'bound 15-Sep-17
Mathewsshootr2 17-Sep-17
Shug 18-Sep-17
Rut Nut 18-Sep-17
Matt Palmquist 18-Sep-17
Missouribreaks 18-Sep-17
Pat Lefemine 18-Sep-17
Missouribreaks 18-Sep-17
Missouribreaks 19-Sep-17
elk yinzer 19-Sep-17
Bowriter 19-Sep-17
Missouribreaks 19-Sep-17
Buffalo1 19-Sep-17
casekiska 19-Sep-17
casekiska 19-Sep-17
Missouribreaks 19-Sep-17
G-MAN 19-Sep-17
Missouribreaks 19-Sep-17
casekiska 19-Sep-17
ahunter55 20-Sep-17
sundaynwv 21-Sep-17
Bowriter 22-Sep-17
Ace 22-Sep-17
Alaska at heart 22-Sep-17
casekiska 22-Sep-17
Bowriter 23-Sep-17
keepemsharp 23-Sep-17
From: Tilzbow
15-Sep-17
I'm curious regarding the top five largest state bowhunting org's as far as membership. Any opinions from the Bowsite community?

15-Sep-17
It has become more difficult for most state organizations to keep membership numbers up especially with younger bow hunters.

That said the Iowa Bowhunters Association is a very healthy State Association. I am a Life Member even though I live in Rhode Island.

From: LONEBULL
15-Sep-17
I would bet Michigan, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio might be up there just as a guess. Whitetail places with large population of hunters.

From: Bou'bound
15-Sep-17
Amazingly low and hey won't share numbers because of that. Very sad

17-Sep-17
Colorado bowhunters 2300 to 2500 on timing of the year and what's going on with the anti's

From: Shug
18-Sep-17
Here in NJ it fluctuates between 5-10% of over all bowhunter numbers of 55,000.... way too low in my opinion

From: Rut Nut
18-Sep-17
I think most bowhunters would be surprised at the numbers. I don't remember the exact numbers but PA is usually around 3,000 in our State Org. Not great for a state with over 300,000 bowhunters!

18-Sep-17
CO and CA have two of the strongest I am familiar with. Kansas hovers between 5 and 600....pretty sad indeed. One reason I am always trying to find ways to increase membership in state orgs as well as P&Y. I am yet to find the answer.....

18-Sep-17
Many organizations will struggle as bowhunters leave bowhunting for the crossbow. Large bowhunting states such as Wisconsin and Michigan now have fewer than 50% of the bowhunters they had 10 years ago. The P&Y club will eventually have similar struggles as crossbows more and more are accepted into the state general archery seasons for use by ALL hunters....... and traditionally accepted hand drawn bows are used less and less. Big changes in organizations will be necessary to survive AND grow, long term.

From: Pat Lefemine
18-Sep-17
Our CT org was once the highest with 10-15% of the states bowhunters belonging to it. We won several awards and were recognized nationally. It's now defunct.

This trend is pretty common across the country. Many will blame poor management and communications by the leadership of these orgs but that's unfair. It was always the same 6-8 guys who did everything while everyone else complained and criticized. Eventually even the most dedicated people grew tired and moved on. I think this is happening all across the country.

There's several good orgs left but I'm sure it's not getting any easier for them to retain and attract members. Even the national orgs are struggling.

Good news is, the anti orgs are struggling too.

18-Sep-17
Early on, when I first became involved in the 1960's, most Orgs were there to promote bowhunting, in addition to the already accepted gun hunting. The "two season hunter" as Fred called it. Political divisiveness amongst Org members destroyed the original mission of promoting the use of the bow and arrow as a satisfactory weapon for hunting. Issues such as baiting, crossbows, compounds, air bows, let off, lighted pins, lighted knocks, horn porn, scopes, and special seasons, etc, all serve to divide hunters within the various organizations. This then leads to a fracture or deviation from most Org's original mission of promoting the "two season hunter", and the simple use of the bow and arrow to harvest game. That mission was accomplished long ago. Ultimately, IMO, the political divisiveness of "what is ethical, or right, WITHIN bowhunting" leads to an erosion of membership and interest.

19-Sep-17
Interesting lack of participation on this thread.

From: elk yinzer
19-Sep-17
Not saying this is what I believe, but they are largely perceived as "good old boys clubs". I do believe they have done a piss poor job keeping up with the times and I mean that in a few different ways. I think ours is ok and mostly focuses on the right issues, but I don't belong. I should probably, but it is what it is. I do believe that social media (which includes the bowsite) has supplanted much of their original purpose which was to create a channel for communication. What's really left after that? "Unifying" hunters on specific issues? Pffft...good luck with that!

From: Bowriter
19-Sep-17
Not so strange, Missouri Breaks. Probably just folks getting tired of blaming crossbows for everything declining numbers to Asian flu. The decline is actually quite easy to understand. It is a simple two-fold equation. (1) Less bowhunters (2) less reason to join.

Most state organizations have lost their teeth. State wildlife commissions, being 90% political, do what they want. The threat of a few thousand, at best, bowhunters is nothing. No threat at all. So, what good does a state organization do? But take heart. There is a simple fix. Make all the crossbow hunters welcome in the bowhunter's organization. Ranks will quickly swell by untold millions. (That, by the way, is sarcasm.)

19-Sep-17
It is sarcasm as most crossbow hunters come from the former bowhunting ranks. Net change in overall hunting participation is close to zero. The big decline is in the actual number of real bowhunters remaining, especially in states where crossbows are allowed by all hunters during the general archery season.. That is not sarcasm, but a real fact.

From: Buffalo1
19-Sep-17
What type of bowhunter organization does Tx have?

From: casekiska
19-Sep-17
The Wisconsin Bowhunters Association currently has almost 5,000 paid members. Additional info about the WBH: the association was founded in 1941 and paid memberships peaked in 1988 with 11,393 signed on.

Also, where has this thread been? I have checked this forum a number of times in the last few days and this is the first time I have seen this thread on this forum. What gives with this? I have seen a similar thread (which I responded to) on the community forum but not here before. It must be that all threads on a forum do not shown up for everyone at the same time. Anyone care to comment on this, or to explain it?

From: casekiska
19-Sep-17
The Wisconsin Bowhunters Association currently has almost 5,000 paid members. Additional info about the WBH: the association was founded in 1941 and paid memberships peaked in 1988 with 11,393 signed on.

Also, where has this thread been? I have checked this forum a number of times in the last few days and this is the first time I have seen this thread on this forum. What gives with this? I have seen a similar thread (which I responded to) on the community forum but not here before. It must be that all threads on a forum do not shown up for everyone at the same time. Anyone care to comment on this, or to explain it?

19-Sep-17
At least the memberships will not go to zero, always have the life members, dead and alive.

From: G-MAN
19-Sep-17
I have been a member of New York Bowhunters for 25 years, I always enjoy the time together with fellow bowman that think as I do. Expanding the love of the stick and string with no rewards for ourselves. My time spent setting up for kids to shoot at a county fair, youth camp or Bow Ed safety course is time well spent. Each year we all find time to attend our yearly Banquet, the three day event is a great time for all. In a few weeks a dozen or so members will be heading off on our Wounded Warrior Hunt . Our Veteran program is called Camo To Camo and has been a great success for the last 12 years, besides taking our Wounded Vet's on free hunts across the country, the membership has collected and sent 890 gift boxes oversees to our troops. So why join a state organization for $25.00,,,,, for the love of bowhunting. Lest We Forget, G-MAN

19-Sep-17
The elusive question posed by the OP is who are the top five in terms of membership numbers? Other than Wisconsin who posted, does anyone else have membership numbers and trends?

From: casekiska
19-Sep-17
Wisconsin Bowhunters Association - Miscellaneous Historical Information

The WBH was founded in March of 1941 by the late Roy I. Case. 140 individuals signed up at the initial meeting and came to be considered Charter Members. (I know two that are still alive.) Back then the stated goal of the organization was "To promote the interests of the bowhunter." Today the Mission Statement of the WBH is: "WBH is a non-profit state association formed for the purpose of promoting the sport of hunting with the bow and arrow; and to promote to that end, the education and to cultivate the social relationship, good sportsmanship and good fellowship of and among its members."

The WBH has Youth, Family, Adult, and Lifetime memberships. Number of paid members varies by the year but now resides at just below 5,000. Number of members peaked in 1988 at 11,393.

The WBH is a bowhunting organization and does not stress competitive target archery. The WBH publishes a magazine three times a year and sponsors various programs throughout the year. A small sampling of the programs includes the following: several hunting awards programs, annual broadhead shoot, annual three day convention, youth NASP event, access to a vast array of WBH branded clothing and accessories, and communication and interaction with various state legislative and DNR committees to benefit the bowhunter's interest. Plus, the WBH was very instrumental in assisting the WI Bowhunting Heritage Foundation in the creation of the WI Bowhunting Museum at the association's headquarters in Clintonville, WI.

The WBH does have a website. Just google Wisconsin Bowhunters Association. Further, additional information/answers to specific questions may be had by calling (715) 823-4670. (With few exceptions, office is open M-F during normal business hours.)

Further information and an extensive detailed history of the WBH can be found in the book THE HISTORY OF WISCONSIN BOWHUNTING.

From: ahunter55
20-Sep-17
I remember 2 day state field competitions in the 60s70s with numbers larger than the NFAA Nationals of today. Pa. was the state that sold the largest number of Archery Deer tags & Ws. was 2nd in those days (100,000+). How many bowhunters belong to State assns. is another thing & I would assume those that sell the most Archery tags still have the largest numbers that join state assns.. I've pretty much always belonged to the state assn. I lived in (currently Iowa) + NFAA. I did belong to Ws. Bowhunters many years when I lived in Ill. & have bowhunted Ws. more times than I can count. Sad we seem to have declining numbers in organizations that determine the future of our sport.

From: sundaynwv
21-Sep-17
The West Virginia Bowhunters Association claims that all family members are members so numbers aren't as high as they claim.

From: Bowriter
22-Sep-17
Missouri Breaks, can you provide the facts to support your claim? I would be interested in seeing them and knowing just how they were obtained. Word of mouth does not constitute a fact and I have never seen or heard of any survey asking a crossbow hunter if he/she was formerly a vertical bow hunter. I would find that, quite interesting.

From: Ace
22-Sep-17

Ace's Link
As Pat said, CT's group died with a whimper. I remember guys at the Sportsmen Shows walking up to the Officers and asking "When are you going to get us Sunday Hunting?" or "Why didn't I get my T-Shirt?" Too many people want other folks to do all the work, they think for their $20/yr they should get everything they want.

The apathy of hunters will never cease to amaze me. I'd say a fraction of 1% ever get involved in any issue.

I do miss the Banquets though, I won a few hunts and a 10 pound lobster once.

22-Sep-17
I have been a member of MBH (Michigan Bow Hunters) since the mid-1980's and witnessed the decline. MBH put on their annual rendezvous at a fair grounds with booths and speakers from all over the country. Then everybody started doing the summer outdoor events and it lost a lot of its unique appeal. As others mentioned, the political clout of state organizations took a BIG hit as the DNR gave way political clout to the appointed NRC.....especially so in MI during the "crossbow wars" of the 1990's. I was on a state committee that worked to have crossbows limited to the muzzleloader season and that lasted just a couple years before the NRC decided to give crossbows full access to archery season on a "trial" basis of 3 years. After one year they summarily decided in a sweeping political gesture to simply annex them into archery season and that pretty much ended any influence that such state organizations had. Plus younger hunters who grew up watching the Outdoor Channel have far less appreciation for old timers who learned through the school of hard knocks the lessons that can be watched in an hour of Youtube videos. Horn porn.....QDMA.....antler restrictions....all played a part in creating an atmosphere of competition rather than commaraderie.

From: casekiska
22-Sep-17
Bowriter - I do not know if Missouri Breaks has any facts to support his claim or not, but I agree wholeheartedly with his contention/assumption/statement/premise that the growing number of crossbow hunters is coming to a great degree from hunters who have switched from vertical bows (longbow, recurve, compound) to horizontal bows (i.e., crossbows). Further, and like you, I have never seen a survey in which the respondents (crossbow hunters) were asked if they are a former vertical bow shooters.

However, here in Wisconsin the number of individuals who purchased a license to hunt with a bow & arrow (vertical bow) has steadily declined in recent years. Here's some data for your consideration: 2010 = 254,014 bowhunters 2011 = 255,426 bowhunters 2012 = 263,852 2013 = 266,573 2014 = 214,213 2015 = 209,981 2016 = 170,000 (approximation, I have yet to be able to get a confirmed number from the state DNR).

Crossbow use for deer hunting in WI became open to anyone starting in the 2014 season and has been steadily increasing ever since. (Prior to that crossbows could only be used by those who are disabled or age 65 & over.) Total crossbow sales for 2017 are anticipated to be well over 120,000 for 2017.

Again, I have not seen a survey proving numerous crossbow hunters are former vertical bow bowhunters, but when you look at the trends in license sales it is easy to draw this conclusion. And again, as was stated in an above post, the total number of deer hunters (gun, bow and crossbow) has not increased (this can be verified by WI state DNR data). (Total number of gun, bow, and crossbow hunters for the years 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 averaged just over 800,00 hunters. Total number for years 2014, 2015, and 2016 averaged slightly less, closer to 800,000. These are WI DNR numbers.)

Conclusion: The overall number of hunters is about the same. Number of bowhunting licenses sold is declining. The number of crossbow hunting licenses sold is increasing. My conclusion is that a great many of the crossbow hunters are former vertical bow hunters.

This conclusion may or may apply for other states, I do not know. But for Wisconsin I believe it does. Further, I believe it is a sad state of affairs when so many want to take the easy way out.

(For the record,...I first bowhunted for deer in 1957. I am 73 years old. This will be my 61 st. bow season. I shoot a compound. recurve, and a longbow. I had shoulder surgery in March and am struggling with a vertical bow, but I will bowhunt this fall and will not use a crossbow.)

From: Bowriter
23-Sep-17
O agree with much of your post, Casekiska. And, WI is a great example simply due to the numbers of hunters. Now, do some research on this. How many entry-level crossbow hunters, continued to use crossbows, past the third season? I kind find no factual data to show entry level x-bow hunters continued using past three years, "IN significant percentages". There most certainly has been an increase in the number of crossbow users, no question. And it probably is the fastest growing segment of the hunting population. But that growth is coming, primarily from older and handicapped bow hunters who cannot shoot vertical bows. It is NOT coming from crossover firearm hunters who continue to use crossbows. NOW- as to the original question as to why state organizations are declining, the answer has been given in several posts. Crossbows are a by-product, not a cause. It might also interest you to note, nationwide, in figures just released, ALL hunter numbers are way down and are still declining. You cannot blame crossbows for that, because they are included in the numbers. Crossbows have ruined no one's hunting or state organization. Only their conception. If one were to take a non-biased approach, they would find three major culprits. (1) An aging, hunting population; (2) Failure to attract young hunters; (3) Political interference in biological management. No one piece of equipment has any culpability except in some hunter's minds.

From: keepemsharp
23-Sep-17
One reason for the decline in state BH groups is 3D shoots. In the early 70s here in KS if you wanted to get together and shoot you went to a KBA event. Now, there are many shoots every week. It dilutes the interest. Not many years ago we had some clout with the seven wildlife commissioners appointed from around the state, it worked well. Now, the legislature is involved and politics rule the day, the commissioners which you could address have had their teeth pulled.

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