March 18, 2020
By Lynn Burkhead
After a stretch where everything from school to sports to the supply of toilet paper has been greatly affected by the coronavirus outbreak, bowhunters are starting to feel the pandemic’s sting in their favorite pastime.
That happened in part on Monday, March 16, 2020 when the Pope and Young Club pulled the plug on its 2020 Convention scheduled for March 26-28, 2020 in Chantilly, Va.
The move was made necessary on Sunday, March 15, 2020 when Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam placed a statewide ban on all gatherings of 100 or more people.
That left the P&Y Club with no means of continuing on with its long planned convention as the COVID-19 crisis seemingly grows by the hour.
“The cancellation is part of a national effort to ensure the health and wellness of the public as we fight to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” stated a P&Y press release issued on Monday, March 16, 2020. “The Pope and Young Club apologizes for the inconvenience this has caused attendees, outfitters and vendors.
“For questions pertaining to the cancellation of the P&Y Convention, please follow this link to our website. We have put together some information to help those that were pre-registered to navigate this process easily.”
While it’s not a shock that P&Y was forced to cancel its convention given recent events, it’s still a regrettable occurrence according to Christian Berg, the longtime editor of Petersen’s Bowhunting.
“It’s certainly a disappointment, because the event is really a celebration of bowhunting and an event that raises significant funds for conservation,” said Berg. “However, if there is any silver lining, perhaps it is that this is all happening at the beginning of the year.
“For most bowhunters, I think it would be a much bigger disappointment if this crisis were to interfere with big-game seasons in the fall. I remain hopeful we will be well past the crisis by that point.”
While the wave of outdoor cancellations in recent days has included the Pope and Young Club Convention, the NRA Annual Meetings, some National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) events, and numerous local events ranging from conservation group banquets to fishing tournaments to 3-D archery shoots, Berg is optimistic that things will improve in time for fall hunting campaigns.
“I am not really concerned that we will see a mass cancellation of seasons, since hunting is typically a solitary sport, or something done in relatively small groups of a handful of family and friends,” said Berg.
“However, I do think this is likely to have a pretty big impact on out-of-state hunts,” he added. “If you had planned a spring trip to hunt turkeys on public land somewhere far from home, you now have to really think about the logistics of securing lodging in your destination city, the availability of restaurants, etc.”
“In addition to that, you have to weigh the potential risk of coming into contact with all the folks you’ll meet along your journey. And you also need to evaluate what impact this crisis is having on your own personal financial situation. So, that Kansas turkey hunt this spring or that Kentucky deer hunt this fall – that might have seemed really affordable a month ago – might not look so affordable today.”
While there is plenty of doom and gloom across the landscape right now, Berg does see some potential rays of sunlight despite the current storm.
“On the positive side, however, I actually anticipate that this crisis is likely to result in an INCREASE in local hunting,” he said. “People typically hunt more during times of economic hardship, as it is a relatively affordable form of recreation that also provides nutritious food for your family.
“To the extent that people have some extra time on their hands this spring, I would anticipate many sportsmen to spend a fair amount of that time in their local woods and on their local waters.
“In fact, I would not even be surprised to see a modest increase in hunting license sales in 2020 as those who may not have purchased a license in recent years return to the sport as they seek affordable, safe activities they can participate in while still practicing social distancing.”
In the meantime, as communities grapple with such things as work from home, closed schools, shuttered restaurants and movie theaters, and no sports to attend or watch on TV, Berg has some suggestions for bowhunters hoping to keep cabin fever at bay over the coming days.
“I plan to do more shed hunting than usual this spring for sure,” he said. “That’s a great way to get some exercise and fresh air and still avoid large gatherings. I’m also going to be spending as much time as I can on my backyard shooting range and taking the time to experiment with some new equipment combinations and bow-tuning methods.”
As bowhunters deal with the changing landscape across the U.S. and North America this spring, stay tuned as more information develops and Petersen’s Bowhunting aims to keep you informed.