The Legendary Longbow

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Published on: Sep. 18, 2013

could make bows for the next 30 years and still be exposed to something new and exciting.”

Hendershott says that longbows are not less efficient, just less complicated. “When I shoot a compound bow I feel part of a mechanical sys tem. When I shoot a longbow I feel connected to a simpler way. I have to rely more on skills and practice. This is just another way to enjoy and connect with nature.”

Longbows in Missouri

The longbow was an integral part of Native Americans’ lives for hundreds of years. The Osage bow style highlighted in this article was the main hunting tool for Missouri’s Osage tribe. Today, archery continues to increase in popularity in Missouri and is promoted by many Conservation Department programs.

Today we think of archery and deer season as going hand in hand, but it was not always so. By the 1930s, white-tailed deer were practically extinct in Missouri. Concerned citizens and scientific management by the Conservation Department restored their numbers sufficiently to allow the first archery deer season in 1946. Only 73 archers participated in the first archery season, a three-day, bucks-only season in Crawford County. Since then, generations of Missourians have worked to make archery as mainstream as hunting with firearms. Sharing their passion paid off.

Today, more than 183,000 archers hunt in Missouri. They enjoy a 124-day statewide season. Conservation and science-based management have made archery hunting accessible to Missourians in all corners of the state.

“Archery hunting for deer continues to grow in popularity,” says Resource Scientist Jason Sumners, the Department’s deer specialist. “It’s such a long season, so it keeps you out in the field longer, plus I think many hunters like the additional challenges you face when hunting with a bow.”

Only a few people actively hunt for turkeys with archery equipment, and those who do hunt primarily in the fall. Most turkeys that are harvested with bows during the archery season are taken opportunistically as hunters wait for deer.

“Missouri has a large wild turkey population, and for those folks who choose to take advantage of the archery season, it provides a considerable amount of opportunity,” says Resource Scientist Jason Isabelle, the Department’s turkey specialist.

“Archery hunting is a challenging pursuit, especially with an animal as wary as a wild turkey. Harvesting a wild turkey with bow and arrow is quite an accomplishment given the incredible eyesight and

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