Area deer beware: It's that time of the year for bow hunters.
With razor-sharp arrows in one hand and a bow in the other, dozens of area bow hunters are climbing into shelters and learning to be quiet while they wait for their opportunity.
For a buck or doe, walking in the sights of that opportunity may mean the difference between life and death.
But for the hunters, the start of bow hunting season means honing a skill and helping keep the deer population down while bringing food to the table.
"Bow hunting's getting extremely popular for one thing, the season lasts so much longer," said Mike Bray, a local dairy farmer who has bow hunted for four years.
Bow hunting season for deer began Thursday. It will run through Dec. 1, and from Dec. 14 to Dec. 31.
Firearms hunting season for deer will be Dec. 2 through Dec. 13.
Bray and Ken Patterson, a bow hunter who owns a local hunting shop, on Monday were hoping to have their first shot at a deer while hunting south of the city.
Like most bow hunters, they use tree or ground shelters designed to hide them from deer that may be passing by.
That's important, especially in bow hunting, because most bow hunters need to be much closer to a deer to hit it with an arrow than if they were using firearms.
"Most (bow) hunters won't be able to effectively shoot a deer that's more than 20 yards away," Patterson said. "The main difference in bow hunting is close range."
He also said that one of the most important strategies in bow hunting is learning to be quiet.
Hunters use bows that must have a minimum power of 45 pounds of pull for deer.
Compound bows have pulleys that lower the amount of force required to pull an arrow back and hold it, while recurved bows have no special features that make it easier for the hunter.
"Bows are just like anything else, you can get just about anything you want," Patterson said.
He said hunting bows can cost from $150 to $1,000.
Crossbows are not allowed during bow hunting season because they have a trigger release mechanism and are considered to be in a different class from other bows.
Bray and Patterson said most hunters use alumnimum arrows. The arrows must be equipped with "broad tip" points, to increase the chance they will kill a deer when striking it.
Arrows can range in length from more than 31 inches to less than 21 inches, they said.
Bow hunters must obtain permits to hunt deer. Permits cost about $31, Patterson said.
Bray said many bow hunters also like to hunt with firearms.
"It just depends on what you want," he said. "Some guys like to hunt with bows and other guys like to use arrows and other guys like both," he said.
Only one deer may be taken per hunter per permit, state regulations say.