There are conflicting views about the humaneness of the handbow as a recreational hunting method for deer. Some claim that it is the most humane hunting method, whilst others report higher wounding rates and crippling losses than with the rifle. This commentary summarises the factors affecting the likelihood of a quick death, the types of equipment commonly used, the vital target areas, the influence of blood loss on blood pressure and brain function and the prevalence of wounding during routine bowhunting. Some requirements in Bowhunters Association Codes of Conduct are also described. It is concluded that where bowhunting is allowed, Codes of Conduct should emphasise the hunters' responsibility to track and despatch injured animals, and adherence to the Codes should be encouraged, if not enforced.
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