Whether today’s well-equipped archery hunter is heading to a woodlot treestand just a few miles from home or to a remote meadow high in the Rocky Mountains, there is a good chance he or she carries a standard piece of equipment that would have been unusual—and illegal in some states—just a few years ago: a handgun.
Dangerous people and dangerous places are simply an American fact of life these days—even for those hunting in locales that were once among the most crime-free in the country. That’s why an increasing number of state wildlife agencies and lawmakers are addressing the safety needs of bowhunters and others who have previously been restricted from carrying handguns for personal protection while afield.
For many, the argument for carrying a handgun while bowhunting is a simple one, particularly in regions that hold grizzly and brown bears, wild boars, mountain lions or other potentially dangerous game. Beyond that, there’s the increasing likelihood hunters may unintentionally discover clandestine methamphetamine labs or hidden marijuana-growing operations on public land—along with the ne’er-do-wells who occupy them.