Lighted Nocks No Longer an Issue in Top Bowhunting States

Bowhunters in Montana will see a host of changes in 2017 season, with the latest being the removal of a longtime ban on lighted nocks for hunting.

Officials with the Montana Fisheries, Wildlife and Parks Commission voted Feb. 10 to end the ban on the lighted nocks. The ruling places Montana in the modern era with just about every other deer hunting state.

“The lighted nock has always made a lot of sense to me,” FWP Commissioner Matt Tourtlotte said during the FWPC meeting. “I would hate for it to be a gateway for this other technology to come tumbling into a sport that has its roots in a primitive core. But I advocated for it in the past, and I support it now.”

I’m seriously happy for the hunters in Montana who finally are able to use lighted nocks. But it’s no surprise that we still have the idiotic comments like Tourtlotte’s about how lighted nocks may be “a gateway for this other technology” to find its way into bowhunting.

Seriously? They’re still afraid a little lighted nock that only assists with finding your arrow, the starting point of the blood trail or the dead animal, could be a bad thing?

We’re talking about a tiny light at the end of a high-tech carbon arrow with a CAD-engineered razor-sharp broadhead being fired at speeds of up to 340 fps. Being fired, of course, from a bow that has carbon fiber limbs and synchronized cams, a machined aircraft aluminum riser, possibly titanium parts, a specialized sight apparatus, a string that is specially designed to withstand high tension and minimize stretch, and usually with a trigger release composed of aircraft aluminum with a hair trigger. All while the hunter is in camouflage wearing scent control sprays and possibly using an electronic rangefinder that could scan distances of up to a mile.

Yes, those lighted nocks surely are going to be an evil gateway to the downfall of traditions. Smack my head and call me Susie.

Again, I’m super-happy for the folks in Montana who now get to use lighted nocks. That news is good for those who were fighting for it. However, it comes on the heels of Montana bowhunters learning they will have to pay yet another fee to hunt there, a tradeoff that certainly smacks of some backroom “you do this for us, we’ll do that for you” wheeler-dealing. I hope that wasn’t the case, and darn sure hate that Montana’s bowhunters will have yet another fee to pay, but that’s where things stand for now.

Last October the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission voted to approve the use of lighted nocks, a relief for bowhunters there who wanted to use the tracking tools but had been hamstrung by the outdated prohibition.

The OFWC’s late 2015 meeting saw the board vote to allow bowhunters use the nocks, “which have no other function other than to increase visibility of the arrow and help hunters track wounded game.”

During practice and hunting, lighted nocks let you know where your arrow hit.

During practice and hunting, lighted nocks let you know where your arrow hit.

Duh. That’s all they do. Lighted nocks do not give the hunter any kind of scouting advantage. They don’t make the arrows fly straighter or have some kind of heat-seeking homing device that guides the arrow to an animal. All they do is shine during flight and either help give you a starting point from the impact site or help you track the animal if the arrow still is in its body.

That’s one of the basic tenets of hunting: making a solid effort to track and recover game. How any state could disallow lighted nocks, which do that, is mind-boggling. So we asked our DDH Facebook fans what they think about it:

Timothy Smith There’s nothing wrong with a lighted nock. It doesn’t help you on hitting the deer; it just shows you where you hit the deer and you can find your arrow if you lose it.

Allan Koffler I shot a deer with a lighted nock, didn’t blow through. There was was good blood, but then it started to snow real hard and gusts of wind. Lost my trail. I started wandering the woods and found the red nock. Kicked her up and she ran off with arrow still in. And hour later and 3 inches of snow later i went back and just looked for the the lighted nock. After 10 minutes of looking I found the arrow and found her. Without the nock I would have never found the deer.

Gary Royston It is all good. Why should we not have that to help us find our game?

William Alvin Evans Yes, lighted nocks should be legal in all 50 states. So should crossbows! I’m disabled, and cannot hold a compound bow back. Nor pull a longbow or recurve bow back and be accurate with them, so I have to hunt with a crossbow. Lighted nocks from a crossbow, allows me to see where my arrow hits, same as a compound, longbow, or recurve. This type of nock doesn’t give hunters any advantage over their quarry, just an easier way for us to find our arrow or bolt after a shot has been taken. We all want the best kill-shot available, our quarry to die fast, and a faster recovery.

Bob Silvers I’m not a bow hunter, but what’s wrong with lighted nocks? Can anyone explain to me why they would be illegal ANYWHERE?? There’s nothing unfair or unsportsmanlike about them. Is there?

WATCH: See What DDH Editor-in-Chief Dan Schmidt Says About Lighted Nocks:

Chris M Mcdonald I bowhunt small parcels of land, basically yards. I use lighted nocks to ease in the recovery of both game and shot arrows. I would hate it if a property owner’s dog stepped on a broadhead from an arrow I couldn’t retrieve, or worse yet a person walking in their woods by their house near my tree stand.

Jeff Harrison I shoot Lumenok with my recurve and compound. Shot a deer once where I didn’t get a pass-through. I saw the nock disappear in the chest cavity but only found half my arrow. When I field dressed the deer I found the other half inside the deer and it was still lit. Washed it, cleaned it, used it again and again.

Chris Reid There is no shooting advantage to lighted nocks. You don’t see them till after you shoot, and bows and crossbows are not semiautomatic weapons. People just don’t think.

Bud Ford Just use them, who cares if Fish & Game is too stupid to understand that they help recover your arrow and game. We lost a deer last year. Searched for hours. If he had shot it with a lighted nock we could’ve had a better chance at finding it. We think he just wounded the deer because one kept wandering the area. We looked until dark. If it was lighted then we could’ve seen if it was that specific deer or not.

Nick Baurichter Won’t hunt without it. Shot bucks at 48, 52, 56, and 72 yards with Lumenoks. The deer don’t see that and you can see exactly where you smoked em. Also in thick marsh grass I would never find my arrow without them.

Michael Doyle The lighted nock does nothing to help you shoot better. It’s just a way to see your arrow in flight. And spend some money.

James Cudzilo I can’t believe all states don’t allow lighted nocks. YES!

James White Yes. It shows you hit in low light and will help you find the animal, whatever you are hunting. Placement of the shot is still on the hunter.

gear-clean-shot-lighted-nockDan Gaul Sr. I’m colorblind so I have trouble recovering my arrows. So I use lighted nocks they have been a big money saver for me.

Andrew Hatch Washington state finally allowed mechanical broadheads and lighted nocks last year! The lighted nocks really only help you find your arrow which is a good thing; no litter left in the wild.

Maynard and Jeannie Long Why not? It is a tool to assist in finding the arrow after hitting the target and you can see (hopefully) that you have made the perfect shot. I have some on my arrows and there they will stay until they don’t work anymore. Then I will get some new ones. My grandson used one on his first bow kill and that was part of the excitement. Thanks to those who make them.

John Holig Yes!! Lighted nocks do not aid in killing the animal. Lighted nocks aid in the recovery of the animal.

Steve Konieczny What does it matter? It only lets you see arrow in flight and where it hit animal. Other than that it does nothing. My arrows pass through most everything

Jack McCullough It’s ridiculous to not allow them! I use them and all they do for me is helping to know where I hit and helping retrieve arrows!

Larry Cholette Yes they should, what’s the big deal it’s serves as a instrument to verify shot placement of a arrow, and to help in thee recovery of that animal.

Bryan Epp Lighted nocks should be legal in every state!

Dean Stavalone How this is an issue is beyond me. Brain dead politicians and administrators in conservation departments dictating illogical policies.

Brian J. Wendler The only inherent advantages of lighted nocks (if you deem it one) is finding an arrow after a missed shot or being able to calculate a marginal hit and whether you should pursue the animal for recovery or perhaps let it lay down to die. Let’s face it: we’ve all had bad shots for one reason or another.


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