AGFC looks into spear hunting

Arkansans might be allowed to hunt whitetailed deer with spears in the future.

Bill Jones of Little Rock, a member of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, introduced the topic Wednesday during the commission's monthly committee meetings in Little Rock. He believes the commission should consider allowing spears as legal weapons to take deer.

"Arkansas is the Natural State, and nothing is more natural and more native than hunting with a spear," Jones said. "Most of the people in here are bow hunters. Spear hunting is the same thing, maybe even better. We need to look at it because we're always looking for opportunities for youth. It's amazing the direction we can go. We'd be one of the nation's leaders."

Jones's remarks prefaced a presentation by Tim Wells, an Illinois native and avid spear hunter. His YouTube channel has 1.3 million subscribers, most of which are younger than age 30. That nugget made the commission take notice more than anything else Wells said, and he said plenty.

Currently, Nebraska is the only state in the Lower 48 that allows spears for deer hunting statewide. Spears are legal for all game in Alaska. You can hunt exotic ungulates with spears in Texas and Hawaii. Alabama allowed spears for deer hunting for about 20 years but then banned them for deer hunting in 2018. You can hunt feral hogs with spears in Arkansas, said Brad Young, the Game and Fish Commission's chief of enforcement.

Wells was a champion javelin thrower in college. He said his coach gave him his javelin after his last meet. He attached a spear head to it and killed a hog. He was hooked. He has used a spear to kill more than 350 animals worldwide, including brown bears and cape buffalo.

Throwing a javelin and throwing a spear are entirely different, Wells said.

A spear is more lethal than bullets and arrows, Wells said, because the diameter of the cutting surface causes catastrophic hemorrhaging, regardless of shot placement.

"The reason I feel like I have great success is because animals that you spear die very quickly," Wells said. "The spearhead has a big cutting diameter. It makes a huge wound channel. Blood loss is extreme. It leaves a greater trail."

An arrow broadhead, in comparison, has a small diameter. Marginal shots wound and maim animals and often cause delayed mortality. Often, hunters do not recover poorly shot animals.

Animals hit with a spear die quickly and within a short distance, Wells said.

"A spear is a long instrument that acts as a lever," Wells said. "Seventy-five percent of the time when I spear an animal, it stays in the animal. Let's say I make a poor throw. When he takes off running, this lever goes to work on him."

The motion of running causes the lever to oscillate, which amplifies and intensifies the cutting action.

"It is brutal in terms of quickness of death," Wells said. "It's bloody, and it's fast. When I hunt with a spear, I put a camera and timer on it. Most animals that I spear are dead in 30 seconds or less. Sometimes much less. With a bow and arrow, it can take 30 or 35 minutes for an animal to die.

"My friends and I always recover animals no matter where we hit them," Wells continued. "Is it accurate enough? Is it humane? It's more effective than any weapon I use. I would never say anything against bowhunting or rifle hunting, but that's the way it is."

If hunting from the ground, 10 yards is about the maximum range for a spear throw, Wells said. Five yards is the gold standard.

"That's giving that animal all the chance it needs to get away," Wells said. "You can smell their breath. You can hear them breathe. You can see the white in their eyes. If you can hear them breathing, if you can smell their breath, you're in the (kill) zone."

As with bows and guns, the most effective way to hunt deer with a spear is from an elevated stand, Wells said. Deer have thin skin and light frames, so it doesn't take much force to pierce a deer with a spear. Wells said that merely dropping a spear directly onto a deer is sufficient to kill it. It takes some force to kill a hog, he added.

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