As the result of an executive order put forth by Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Conservation Commissioner N. Gunter Guy Jr., archery hunters authorized by law to carry handguns may carry for personal protection during archery-only seasons, effective October 15, 2011.
"This change has been made to conform to an existing regulation that allows the possession of handguns by legally licensed persons in any Wildlife Management Area (220-2-.21)," Guy said. "We also want to afford more opportunity for hunters for personal protection and for taking legal game such as feral hogs."
Effective Oct. 1, new North Carolina regulations allow archery hunters "to carry, but not hunt with, a concealed handgun with valid concealed carry permit or an open carry handgun, as long as it is not in conflict with any other regulations in that jurisdiction." The change is not reflected in the 2011 North Carolina Hunting Regulations Digest, as it was printed before the law was passed.
In addition, the 2011 archery season marks the first time bowhunters in Missouri are allowed to carry handguns for personal protection. In 2010, Tennessee and Kentucky each liberalized handgun-carry regulations for archery hunters.
For many, the argument for carrying a handgun while bowhunting is simple one, particularly in regions that hold bears, wild boars, mountain lions or other potentially dangerous game. Beyond that, there's the increasing likelihood for hunters to discover clandestine methamphetamine labs or hidden marijuana-growing operations on public land—along with the dangerous people who occupy them.
Currently, rules regulating handgun use for bowhunters vary by state, with most simply allowing those with valid concealed-handgun permits to carry while bowhunting. Still, at least 17 states continue to prohibit bowhunters from carrying a firearm for protection.
"For many years, the NRA has actively advocated for the right of bowhunters to carry firearms for self-defense while in the field," said Darren LaSorte, Manager of Hunting Policy for NRA-ILA. "We know that bad things can happen to good people anywhere, anytime. There is no reason that bowhunters should be forced to surrender their right to self-defense every time they enter the field."