The urban archery season, which ran from Jan. 11 through Feb. 15 this year, allows residents to hunt with bows on their own property or invite hunters to set up a deer stand. Residents can also hunt on their own property with a bow during Central North Carolina’s regular archery season, which ran from Sept. 7 through Nov. 1 last year.
This was the fourth urban archery season since the highly contested decision was made to institute it.
The Town Council made the move to protect motorists and preserve the landscaping homeowners often pay thousands of dollars for.
Julie McClintock, president of the Coker Hills West Neighborhood Association, said her neighborhood has engaged in ongoing discussions about controlling the animals.
Town Councilman George Cianciolo said the council’s decision was contentious when it was made.
“There were probably as many people for it as there were against,” Cianciolo said.
He added that, while he hasn’t heard anything negative about the program, he also wasn’t sure about how effective it had been.
Tom Henkel, a former member of the Chapel Hill Sustainability Committee who led the initiative for the urban archery program, said he thinks it has been successful. He keeps track of how many deer are killed not only during the urban archery season, but also the regular hunting season.
Henkel said during the first year of hunting the population was reduced by 37 deer. In the second season, the population was reduced by another 11 deer.
“Experience shows this is the most effective way to curb a population,” Henkel said.
Henkel said Lyme disease, which is contracted through deer ticks, was the main reason he advocated the extra season.
But the question of hunting with bows safety often arises among town residents.
Robert Reda is a hunter who takes advantage of the urban archery season and said there are many guidelines in place to make the practice as safe for other residents as possible. The first guideline is that hunters must use bows instead of rifles, which are considerably more dangerous.
Other safety measures include a limited range of 20 to 25 yards and a required deer stand height of at least 15 feet.
Other Chapel Hill residents, like local artist and self-proclaimed animal lover Martha Petty, are concerned that this method of hunting could be traumatic for children.
“I can’t imagine the trauma to see a deer suffering with an arrow piercing its body,” she said.
But Reda and Cianciolo said they are confident that the skill and professionalism of hunters will prevent any accidents from happening.
“People want the population controlled, but they don’t necessarily want to know about it,” Reda said.