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Lighted Nocks and Expandables in Idaho?

Do politics belong in wildlife management? Yes, you read that correctly but this blog is about lighted nocks and expandable broadheads. Or is it? 

If you have been following the trends most hunters know that states around the country have widely accepted the advancement of hunting technology with a few exceptions, and Idaho is one of those exceptions. They have made a stance against what is being referred to as “technology creep” and for years have not allowed even simple changes. For example, lighted nocks are still illegal in Idaho. Why? Glad you asked, something as simple as a lighted nock can be used as a very helpful tool in the world of archery hunting. It doesn’t improve your accuracy, or help you kill the animal with more efficiency, but it does help the hunter follow the arrow flight better and subsequently make better retrieval decisions. This is hard to argue and therefore you will find most sportsmen support lighted nocks. So what is the issue? The issue runs much deeper than lighted nocks, in fact, this is a very slippery slope and that is why all of the attempts with the Commission or legislation on these issues has failed in Idaho. Because to put it simply, “you give an inch, they take a mile”. Therefore, sportsmen and IDFG’s Commission have shot down what would seem to be advancements in archery hunting for many years.

          Let’s rewind a bit and take a look at the bigger picture. Back in 1938 the people of Idaho voted in majority to approve the Idaho Fish and Game Commission Act. With 75.98% approval this Act was placed into law and has been running under this “commission style headship” ever since. Whether you agree with this methodology or not, there is very strong support for this system amongst Idaho’s sportsmen. There are 7 commissioners in Idaho, appointed by the Governor on staggered four-year terms. Each commissioner must be a resident from the region he or she represents and be well informed and interested in wildlife conservation and restoration.” The initial goal was to create a commission independent from the legislative process. Being more connected and accessible to sportsmen and their associated groups than the Senate would be. As flawed as this process may be, it has worked rather well and kept Idaho an “opportunity” state for resident and nonresident hunters for many years. 

Why the history lesson? Well, Idaho’s HB 507 brought the use of lighted nocks and mechanical broadheads back to the table and it passed with flying colors. The caveat? This time, the bill was pushed through completely bypassing the IDFG Commission. A long-standing process which is even considered sacred to some. This over-reach is not illegal, but steps on the toes of over 80 years of tested and proven process. In the end it is safe to say the IDFG’s Commission has probably been too stiff on topics such as lighted nocks and mechanical broadheads. To the point that people felt the need to bi-pass their system. When a power, like a commission group, is potentially abusing their position, it is in our rights to use the laws and systems in place to better the management of hunting and wildlife conservation. 

The question remains, was this the right decision? And so, the “slippery slope” topic is back again. Many sportsmen are in support of the use of lighted nocks and mechanical broadheads and this seems like a win, but all of us should be concerned at the bypassing of long-standing tradition even if it seems right this time. One thing is for sure, history repeats itself and nearly every-time the government obtains more power we as sportsmen and the animals we treasure and fight to conserve lose in the end. Hopefully this will serve as a wake-up call for the Commission and we as sportsmen can unite and help keep states like Idaho on the “opportunity” side of the scale. 

What’s your take? Was this a good move or an overreach? 







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  1. I feel that the decision to bypass the IDFG Commission sends a strong message to the Commission that they need to listen more closely to the interested parties. To understand that the IDFG Commission will not and may not always have the final say so.

    • Sorry bro but you have to give and take. I hate seeing more government get involved. I have been in multiple states hunting and Idaho is the best. Maybe not in the future now though so I am sad to see this. I thought the no lighted nocks and non expandables was dumb but I found out I didn’t care at all. It just takes a bit more knowledge of what you are doing and proper tuning to get fixed blades to fly literally as good. I hope Idaho hunting and wildlife does not go to pot now.

  2. Dan Heitstuman/Flatbow

    I believe it was indeed an overreach. Not always but for the most part IDFG has done a good job trough the years. I totally agree with IDFG’s stance that archery and muzzle loader seasons is and should stay short weapons hunts. A large part of there plan to keep these season as close to primitive hunts as possible is by disallowing any and all electronic devises in these seasons. Technological advances such as electronic sighting devises, magnifying optics (on muzzle loaders or bows) mechanical broad heads and yes unfortunately maybe the occasional helpful device such as lighted nocks .However, in order to keep these special season special some lines need to be drawn. I for one agree with the line IDFG has drawn in order to maintain our very generous archery and Black powder seasons.
    We WILL lose these special seasons if we allow technological advancements to keep increasing our success rates.

  3. I believe there should always be check and balance to every branch of government. This was a check on the executive branch by the fourth branch of government which is we the people. Bo one should ever have absolute power that never ends good in the history of the world

  4. Daniel Heitstuman

    Keep allowing it to be political and laws pushed through Congress ext. And then anyone can file a petition that can be made law and you can kiss the good seasons here in Idaho good by..
    Just look at many other Western or any state for that matter and you see this SB bill or that HS bill against hunting. You never seen that in ID until last year with the Wolf season law pushed through (good or bad) and now this.
    Once that door is open, good luck getting it shut!!

  5. I hate it when people say you can’t give an inch, or it will open the flood gates. Such a flawed perspective. By never giving an inch is what causes people to find ways around oppressive rule. If IDFG had given an inch the people wouldn’t have reached out to their state congressman to make a change. Unfortunately IDFG is full of a bunch of traditionalists that only paid attention to like minded thinkers and denied representation to the rest of us. And quite saying it will ruin hunting in Idaho, or that the bow/black powder seasons will be ruined because of this, that’s nonsense. Your just jumping to the extremes to scare people into submission. We are talking about lighted nocks and expandable broadheads of which we are the only state now banning them. Why? If IDFG had compromised a fees years ago we wouldn’t be were we are today. So if anyone is to blame it is IDFG!

  6. Robert J Ferlic

    Before the commission meeting earlier this year i reached out to the commission chair in hopes to discuss the lighted nock issue. He never return my call or email. If the commission does listen to the hunting public then someone needs to step in.

  7. Daniel Heitstuman

    That is concerning.

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