Bowhunters in Citrus warm to new season

Their annual state jamboree in Inverness in September will draw hundreds who will hone their skills just before an autumn of hunting.

Published August 3, 2006

Bowhunters, unite! The annual Florida Bowhunting Jamboree returns to Inverness in September.

During the event from Sept. 2 to Sept. 4 at the Citrus Wildlife Management Area, experienced and prospective bowhunters can learn the tricks of the trade and practice their craft during special classes.

Bowhunters hunt with high-tech bows and arrows instead of guns and must practice extensively to get the feel of shooting. To kill game humanely, they often get close to animals, sometimes within 20 yards.

Richard Burkhart, the president of the Florida Bowhunters Council, estimated that between 1,500 and 1,800 people from Florida and neighboring states, 700 of them shooters, will show up over the jamboree's three days to work on their craft.

But critter lovers need not fear. The jamboree, put on by the council and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Committee, features no live animals. Instead, participants will be aiming at targets that look like animals or at a "running deer," a replica on a cable. Children can shoot for free and earn prizes.

Anyone can come to the jamboree, which is meant to be a family event and a warmup for hunting season, Burkhart said.

Florida's official crossbow and archery hunting season dates range from early September to December, depending on the region. Prospective hunters need to get permits from the state.

For 80-year-old Eileen Creason, who has hunted since 1959, the jamboree is a time to meet old friends and sharpen her skills.

"It's about having fun and spending time together," Creason said. "You see all the children starting out when they're young and learning how to do this."