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Shedding Light on Lighted Nocks and Pins
Groups: Tribe Stories
Jul 17, 2013

As a practicing civil litigation attorney in Nevada and California for nearly 15 years, Sitka Ambassador Jason Peak is adept in written law. An ethical hunter, Jason relies on his professional background to shed light on nuanced game laws. Not every hunter has Jason's legal background, and he often advises his friends and members of the hunting community on how to research and collect information. He and his wife, Jen, look to pass on a high ethical standard and passion for the outdoors to their daughters Emma (10) and Ava (6 months). This is the start of a series of Jason's articles that organize and make useful publicly availalbe information for the Sitka Tribe. If there's a topic you'd like him to cover, post it in the comments below. If he can answer, he will, and if not, he'll help with referrals to specific agencies or services that may be in a better position to help.   

Jason is also a Field Editor for Eastman's Hunting Journal, Staff Shooter for Martin Archery and an avid photographer.

The following is a short summary of an article originally posted in Issue 78 of Eastman's Hunting Journal:

As archery hunters, we are always looking to find better ways to increase our odds at filling our tags. Many of us turn to technology to make squeezing off that critical shot easier and more efficient. And anything that arguably aids in the recovery of that prized trophy is always welcome. For those that look to gain every advantage, lighted pins and nocks are at least a consideration when trying to find tools to extend shooting times and help track and find a released arrow.

Every state has its own set of regulations governing whether you can use lighted nocks or pin housings. For different reasons, some states allow the use of one but not the other. Some allow both, while others allow neither. And in the states that restrict the use of one or both, many require that it not even be in the hunter’s possession or on the bow—disabling the device may not be enough. For hunters who hunt in different states, it can be tough keeping up with all the regulations governing nocks and pins.

Check out the table below for a quick list of western states and their legalities around lighted pin housing and nocks. For a full breakdown and understanding of the issue check out the the Eastman’s Backcountry Issue (Issue 78).

The only use I see of these tools is to extend hunting beyond the traditional dawn and dusk hours, which is to the detriment of our game populations. Montana can be proud of rules in place to protect wildlife and ensure ample fair chase hunting. We stand to ruin these sports with technologies like this. At worst, these tools will lead to over-harvesting and poaching. When the author says that lighted pins and nocks "are at least a consideration" is he really saying anything? This seems pretty black and white to me. If you can't get it done in normal hunting hours, don't blame it on the fact that your bow and arrow doesn't light up. Maybe night vision is next?
Posted by David Nolt on Sep 25, 2013 5:04 PM
It took four long years to get the lighted nocks legal in Washington State. Numerous Commission meetings and a ton of other hours. I was the main driving force behind this issue. The Traditional guys didn't want it, Pope and young wont allow it, but I figured if the lighted nock gives you no advantage before the shot and only helps in arrow recovery it cannot be AGAINST fair chase. For the record I am against the lighted pins, they help you before the shot. I am now going after expandables here in Washington, so write the Washington State Commission and let them know whether you are for or against them... Jim Sutton, Spokane
Posted by jim sutton on Jul 21, 2013 9:40 AM
@Eric! I have a sight that you are talking about, and I know that Colorado will consider it legal if the batteries are out. Just check with your Oregon hunting regs to make sure.
Posted by Steve Vedders on Jul 19, 2013 4:23 PM
Hey @Dan! No= Not allowed, and Yes= Allowed. Thanks for asking!
Posted by Sitka Team on Jul 19, 2013 4:16 PM
I can understand states not allowing a lighted pin housing as that could propose an unethical after hours shot on game, but I don't understand the issue with a lighted nock. Wouldn't it make sense to more visibly confirm your shot on game while also not leaving an arrow lost in the woods ( leave no trace)? I don't use either devices as the states I hunt do not allow me to, but sometimes it would be nice to have the option.
Posted by Luke on Jul 18, 2013 8:57 AM
If you use either the animal doesn't qualify for Pope and Young.
Posted by Ronnie Hall on Jul 18, 2013 5:30 AM
Would love to have one for my son
Posted by Matthew Gers on Jul 17, 2013 11:24 PM
Not every bowhunter looks to make it easier. Some relish the self-imposed challenges and the uncertainty of the hunt. Respectfully.
Posted by mike mitten on Jul 17, 2013 8:34 PM
Great article not only for the lighted pin and knock chart but also to remind people to check ALL applicable game & fish laws and laws on firearms where applicable when hunting in other states. These are strict liability crimes so claiming "I didn't know" doesn't get you out of the ticket.

Also, Jason, you should appreciate this, there are two events this month that I consider equally life altering. First I take the bar which is boring but important they tell me, and secondly, this past Saturday, I finally got my complete Sitka set up. Now that's something I will consider life altering.
Posted by Ryan Baumgartner on Jul 17, 2013 8:25 PM
So for example oregon allows neither option. But if your bow sight is equipped with a rheostat lite, but the batteries are removed it can still be considered a lighted sight?
Posted by Eric on Jul 17, 2013 7:43 PM
Game laws are VERY tricky and vary from state to state; so Peak's articles are very appreciated!
Posted by Luke Johnson on Jul 17, 2013 6:11 PM
In this box, does yes mean it is allowed, or does yes mean it is illegal?
Posted by Dan on Jul 17, 2013 4:40 PM

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