Mandatory archery hunting equipment: lighted nocks

The author says he can’t overstate the value of lighted nocks at the range and in the field. They provide the chance to witness exact impact location and recover your arrow, both of which can dictate how to proceed intelligently on a blood trail.

By this time of the fall I’ve heard several horror stories involving poor decisions made while blood trailing. There are two reasons for this, and the first involves making bad choices from inexperience, or indifference to the outcome. The second involves working off faulty information.

The latter is tougher to control, and over the years I’ve found that there is one way to help curb the misinformation that might result from the fast action of a whitetail encounter: lighted nocks. I’m a big fan in them for target shooting because they make it more enjoyable and help me identify erratic arrow flight, but it’s in the woods where they really shine (get it?). 

The last two bucks I arrowed approached fast and gave me very little time to parse out the situation. In fact, the 10-pointer I shot in Minnesota came in chasing a doe so fast that the entire encounter from spotting him to stopping him and shooting lasted only a few seconds. When he exploded away, I was left with the vision of my little green lighted nock disappearing in the crease behind his shoulder. Even though it transpired quickly, I knew right where my arrow hit, and – better yet – where my arrow was laying in the leaf litter.

Lighted nocks aren’t legal in every state, but they are in many, and they can make the difference between knowing what happened when you shot and what didn’t. That’s a big deal and influences the entire blood trailing process. They also allow for much easier post-shot arrow recovery, which can provide more valuable clues.

The lighted nocks of five years ago were somewhat unreliable and seemed to occasionally mess with arrow flight. Today’s offerings are lighter in weight and better designed, making them a great investment to ensure you’ve got the right info when deliberating on how to proceed with a trailing effort.

Anyone who has bowhunted for even a few years knows how important that really is. 

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