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John's Journal... Entry 265, Day 5


Are Bow Fishermen Slaughtering Fish?

Editor's Note: As an outdoorsman, I enjoy hunting and fishing. I like to participate in both sports all year. However, often the seasons conflict. However now, folks can hunt with a bow when deer season and turkey season end, although the game has neither fur nor feathers but rather scales. If you want to get a fight started in any fish camp along the Gulf Coast, just start talking about hunting redfish at night with a bow. Most folks won't jump your case if you talk about shooting sheepshead with a bow, because outdoorsmen generally don't consider sheepshead the sacred cow of the Upper Gulf Coast. But many sportsmen feel very strongly about bowhunting for redfish. I think I speak for outdoorsmen when I say that many of us, regardless of how we feel about how anglers take redfish, probably perceive anyone who takes redfish by a different method than us as using an immoral and unethical method. But I personally think that a redfish in the skillet is still a redfish in the skillet, whether you take it on hook and line or with a bow and arrow. Too, as long as bowhunters don't take over their legal limit of redfish, why do we have controversy? "Well, bow hunting for redfish just ain't sporting," a whiskered, leathery-faced fisherman told me recently. However, he also admitted he'd never hunted redfish at night with a bow, but the idea of that just didn't seem sporting to him. This past year, friends and I traveled to Louisiana and hunted redfish and sheepshead with bows and arrows with my friend Bo Hamilton.

Have you ever watched two children, each with a brown paper bag, in front of a huge bowl of jellybeans? Both children can get as many jellybeans as they want and put them in their sacks. As you watch, each child starts grabbing jellybeans and putting them in his or her sack. Then before long, the two youngsters will become embroiled in a fight because one child thinks the other has gathered more jellybeans faster than he has. Often outdoorsmen remind me of children fighting like this. The Gulf Coast shore has plenty of redfish for everyone. If the resource starts becoming damaged, conservation officials -- both federal and state -- will restrict the harvest of redfish as they have in the past. As much as I hate to say it, the limits and the restrictions that government officials have put on the redfish have worked. Today redfish have come back in droves.

You can enjoy the good ole' days of redfishing -- whether you take the redfish with a bow or a hook and line -- now. If you've never bow-fished for reds and sheepshead, before you criticize others, try it yourself. On my trip, we shot at fish all night before finally taking a total of five sheepshead and three redfish. How many days have you fished and caught more reds and sheepshead than that with six people in your party? We had plenty of targets on our trip, but we just couldn't hit them at night. However, we had a really good time trying.



Check back each day this week for more about REDFISH WITH A BOW...

Day 1 - Bow Fishing and Deer Hunting -- The Similarities
Day 2 - My First Nighttime Bow Fishing Experience
Day 3 - Equipment for Bow Fishing
Day 4 - The Adventure
Day 5 - Are Bow Fishermen Slaughtering Fish?

John's Journal