When Does Bow Hunting Season Start in Each State?
Bow hunting is like no other sport out there. Perhaps more than any other method of hunting, bow hunting feels timeless—probably because it’s been practiced for thousands upon thousands of years in some form or another. And while many of our ancestors could (and had to) go bow hunting at any time of year, modern humans have to wait until the start of bow season.
Bow hunters have an advantage: in many states, bow hunting seasons are much longer than rifle hunting seasons. It’s possible to greatly expand your hunting season by taking up a bow and arrow—and you’ll learn a lot about the art of game stalking and strategy while you’re at it.
However, every US state has its own laws on when bow hunting season starts. So, when does bow season start in your state? We’ve got the key information on bow season in all 50 US states—but first, let’s take a look at the basic elements of bow hunting season laws.
Factors That Affect Bow Hunting Season
You’ll find that each state has a variety of special laws and circumstances that affect when bow season starts, including what kind of deer you can take and sometimes which regions you can hunt in. Some of the factors that can be important in determining your state’s bow hunting season include:
- Location: In many states, hunting seasons vary by location. Certain regions may have longer or shorter seasons depending on local conservation practices. You’ll find that many states have wildlife management units (WMUs) that are each assigned their own hunting season.
- Types of Bow: Some states restrict the type of bow used for bow hunting during certain parts of bow season. Crossbows are among the most commonly restricted bow types, and some states restrict the draw weight of bows used to hunt certain game.
- Game: Many states regulate the kind of game that can be taken via bow hunting. Since deer are still the most popular hunting game by far, we’ll only talk about deer hunting in this article. But if you’re hunting turkey, elk, bear, boar, small game, or anything else other than deer, be sure to look up local bow hunting regulations.
- Sex of Deer: Some states allow only bucks to be taken during certain periods.
- Lottery Hunts: In some states, hunters must enter a state hunting lottery to get a permit for certain season dates and WMUs.
- Youth/Disability: Some hunts are designated for young hunters and hunters with disabilities.
- Private/Public Land: Some states have different hunting season dates for private and public land.
Disclaimer: Some states’ hunting season dates change from year to year. To make sure that you’re hunting in season, always check the latest information from your state government. In most states, you’ll want to contact the Department of Fish and Wildlife, Department of Natural Resources, or a local equivalent.
When Does Bow Season Start? State by State
Alabama Bow Hunting Season
- Seasons vary by zone but generally run from mid-October until mid-February.
Alaska Bow Hunting Season
- Seasons vary by zone but generally run from mid-October until mid-February.
Alaska is substantially different from most other states when it comes to hunting. The state is divided into 26 different hunting zones, each of which has its own highly specific hunting regulations. In some zones, big game hunters cannot use bows and arrows.
Arizona Bow Hunting Season
- Seasons vary by zone, and most seasons are connected to individual zone hunts which are assigned through a lottery system. These hunts typically have periods of one to three weeks. In some zones, bow hunters may be able to get a non-permit archery only tag, which grants them access to an extended bow season.
Arkansas Bow Hunting Season
- Statewide from September 26th to February 28th.
California Bow Hunting Season
- Seasons vary by zone, but generally start in July or August and end in September.
Colorado Bow Hunting Season
- From September 2nd - September 30th (west of I-25 and in Unit 140), October 1st - 23rd, November 4th - 30th, December 15th - 31st (east of I-25).
Connecticut Bow Hunting Season
- Seasons vary by zone but mostly run from September 15th through November or December. An extended bow hunting season runs through January 31st on private land in some zones.
Delaware Bow Hunting Season
- Statewide from September 1st - January 31st.
Florida Bow Hunting Season
- Seasons vary by zone but are mostly in the fall from September through November. South Florida’s seasons are earlier, from August 1st - August 30th.
Georgia Bow Hunting Season
- Statewide from September 10th - January 8th. Extended season until January 31st in Atlanta metro area counties to compensate for their lack of a gun hunting season.
Hawaii Bow Hunting Season
- Seasons vary by zone and are usually tied to lottery hunts. Hunting is allowed year-round on private land.
Idaho Bow Hunting Season
- Seasons vary by zone, but most bow hunting seasons run from August to late fall/early winter.
Illinois Bow Hunting Season
- Statewide October 1st - January 17th. In counties outside the Chicago area, archery is not allowed during gun season from November 20th - 22nd and December 3rd - 6th.
Indiana Bow Hunting Season
- Statewide from October 1st - January 3rd.
Iowa Bow Hunting Season
- Statewide from October 1st - December 4th and December 21st - January 10th.
Kansas Bow Hunting Season
- Statewide from September 14th - December 31st.
Kentucky Bow Hunting Season
- Statewide from September 5th - January 18th. Crossbows are allowed only from September 19th - January 18th.
Louisiana Bow Hunting Season
- Seasons vary by zone, but most start in September or October and run through January or February.
Maine Bow Hunting Season
- Statewide from October 3rd - October 30th. Expanded archery season in certain areas from September 12th - December 12th.
Maryland Bow Hunting Season
- Seasons vary by zone, but most include the dates from September 6th - October 16th, October 20th - November 29th, December 16th - December 20th, and January 1st - January 9th. Some include January 13th - January 31st.
Michigan Bow Hunting Season
- Statewide from October 1st - November 14th and December 1st - January 1st. Extended archery season in Macomb, Oakland, and Wayne counties through January 31st.
Minnesota Bow Hunting Season
- Statewide from September 19th - December 31st.
Mississippi Bow Hunting Season
- Seasons vary by zone, with most running from October 1st - December 15th (including primitive weapons season) and January 21st - 31st. The Southeast Zone has similar dates, but starts on October 15th and includes an extra season from February 1st - February 15th.
Missouri Bow Hunting Season
- Statewide from September 15th - November 13th and November 25th - January 15th.
Montana Bow Hunting Season
- Statewide from September 8th - October 18th. Some backcountry hunting districts allow bow hunting only from September 5th - September 14th.
Nebraska Bow Hunting Season
- Statewide from September 1st - December 31st.
Nevada Bow Hunting Season
- Seasons vary by zone, but most archery only seasons run from August 10th - September 9th. Most zones have an “any legal weapon” season in the late fall and early winter.
New Hampshire Bow Hunting Season
- Statewide from September 15th - December 15th. Ends one week early in some areas of the state’s northern tip.
New Jersey Bow Hunting Season
- Seasons vary by zone, but mostly start in September and run through the end of December.
New Jersey has two different types of bow seasons: “Fall Bow,” open to anyone with a valid New Jersey hunting license, and “Permit Bow,” restricted to those with a permit for hunting in their specific zone. Permit bow season also requires a separate permit for taking bucks.
New Mexico Bow Hunting Season
- Seasons vary by zone. Most zones have a bow only season from September 1st - 24th, followed by an “any legal” season from October - late November. Some zones add an additional bow season in January.
New York Bow Hunting Season
- Seasons vary by zone. Most WMUs in the northern zone from September 27th - December 6th. Some northern zone WMUs run through December 13th. Most WMUs in the southern zone from October 1st - December 13th. Crossbows are restricted to short periods in October or November.
North Carolina Bow Hunting Season
- Seasons vary by zone. All start on September 12th and run through various points in October, November, and December, sometimes with short breaks between seasons. Some cities participate in “urban archery” bow seasons from January 9th - February 14th.
North Dakota Bow Hunting Season
- Statewide from September 4th - January 3rd.
Ohio Bow Hunting Season
- Statewide from September 26th - February 7th.
Oklahoma Bow Hunting Season
- Statewide from October 1st - January 15th.
Oregon Bow Hunting Season
- Seasons vary by zone. Eastern and Western Oregon have open bow seasons from August 29th - September 27th, plus a few weeks in November and December in certain zones. Western Oregon also has “any legal weapon” seasons at various points in October and November, depending on zone. Various controlled lottery hunts are available throughout the fall.
Pennsylvania Bow Hunting Season
- Statewide from October 3rd - November 20th and again from December 26th - January 18th. Certain WMUs have an extended season.
Rhode Island Bow Hunting Season
- Seasons vary by zone —Zone 1 from September 15th to January 31st, Zone 2 from October 1st to January 31st. Zones 3 and 4 consist of a few small islands that have their own bow season dates.
South Carolina Bow Hunting Season
- Seasons vary by zone, but most start in August or September and run through January 1st.
South Dakota Bow Hunting Season
- Statewide from September 1st - January 1st.
Tennessee Bow Hunting Season
- Statewide from September 28th - January 5th except for October 26th and 27th (which are reserved for youth hunts). Extended season from January 6th - 10th on some private land.
Texas Bow Hunting Season
- Statewide from October 3rd - November 6th.
Utah Bow Hunting Season
- Statewide from August 15th - September 11th. Some areas feature extended bow hunting seasons that run into October, November, or December.
Vermont Bow Hunting Season
- Statewide from October 1st - December 15th, but not allowed during the regular gun season from November 14th - November 29th.
Virginia Bow Hunting Season
- Statewide from October 3rd - November 13th. Certain areas have late archery seasons in late November and December. Others have urban archery seasons that run from September 5th - October 2nd and January 3rd through March 28th.
Itching to get your finger on a bowstring? It’s a good idea to start gearing up for bow hunting season well in advance so that you can have your broadheads sharpened and your bow tuned up when the day arrives.
Make sure to invest in a bow case that offers real protection for your bow, like the Pelican Air 1745 bow case. Our ultra-lightweight polymer compound bow cases are designed for rugged performance while remaining up to 40 percent lighter than other cases.
Looking for more bow hunting tips on some of America’s most exciting game animals? Check out our article, How To: Bow Hunting Hogs.