NORWAY — A new law requiring all archery hunters to have a valid license beginning Jan. 1, 2017, is not seen as much of a burden, according to the owner of a local sporting goods store.
Before the new law, an archery license was only required when hunting deer with a bow and arrow during the expanded archery season, and special October archery season, according to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.
The change means there will be no exceptions to hunting with archery equipment on a firearms hunting license.
Christl Theriault, assistant to the department commissioner, said the change was “partly to address the fact that there wasn’t a consistent requirement for archery hunters to take the archery safety course.”
“It didn’t make sense that we were requiring some folks to take archery safety courses during expanded archery season with deer, when they could turn around and hunt with their archery equipment under their firearms hunting license,” Theriault said. “One of the simplest ways to change that was to require the license for archery hunting.”
Paul Brook, owner of Woodman’s Sporting Goods on Main Street in Norway, said the effects of the new law will be minimal and not much of a burden on hunters.
“It will probably cost (some hunters) a little more money, because now, they’ll have to take the time to get an archery license, and to get one, they’ll have to take an archery hunting class, which costs money, too,” Brook said.
A lot of the people who have been archery hunting have already gotten their license, he said, and the number of archery hunters in Oxford Hills has declined in recent years.
“To be a successful bow hunter, you have to be more skillful,” he said. “There’s a lot more to it than shooting a rifle.”
Sylvia Bosse, president of the Norway-Paris Fish & Game Association, agreed with Brook about the impact of the law on local hunters.
“The law will likely have little to no impact at all, because most archery hunters have already taken their hunter safety test,” she said.
She said archery hunting is still going strong, with younger people and women making up a lot of it.
“We run archery classes at our Fish and Game Club at least once a year,” Bosse said. “It seems like younger people are more into the skill and stealth of archery hunting.”
The Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife said people seeking an archery hunting license should show proof of having successfully completed a bow-hunter education course, or show proof of having held an adult archery license in any year after 1979.
Hunters who wish to take a bow-hunter education course can visit www.maine.gov/ifw/education/safety.