To Crossbow or Not to Crossbow?

Posted by admin On March - 16 - 2012

It looks like the topic of legalizing crossbows is coming much closer to home following a February meeting in Vermont by the Fish and Wildlife Board. During that meeting, officials showcased a presentation about crossbow hunting, acting on a request from the board to do so following their receipt of three petitions requesting crossbows be legalized during the archery deer season.

Currently, only hunters with disabilities and a special permit are allowed to use crossbows in Vermont. That law is actually pretty typical, with more than 20 states having the same restrictions. However, there are at least 15 other states that don’t have a problem with everyone being able to use crossbows during archery deer season. Two of the most recent are right up near our neck of the woods with New Jersey and Pennsylvania passing laws to open the use of the weapons up to everyone.

The arguments on both sides of the issue range from allowing them because they are easier to hold, shoot and fire at fast arrow speeds to those who say that they shouldn’t be allowed in archery season because they operate on many of the same basic levels (stock, trigger and locked and loaded at all times during the hunt) as a gun.

We here at Northeast Hunting understand both sides of the argument, knowing that the legalization of crossbows in a state like Vermont would likely increase archery season license sales and deer harvest numbers, but also detracts from the challenge of being a good bow hunter and the skills necessary to successfully harvest an animal that way.

On one hand, it means a likely increase in hunters and profits from the sale of licenses, but on the other hand we would likely see a bow hunter become a rare sight in the woods.

When the debate does come to Vermont, we encourage hunters on both sides of the fence to let their voices be heard and to actively promote their beliefs.

What are your thoughts on crossbows? Do you think they should be legal for everyone to use? Why or why not?

4 Responses to “To Crossbow or Not to Crossbow?”

  1. Timothy Molloy says:

    No problem with hunting with a crossbow but not during archery season. Crossbows are a hybrid between a bow and a rifle. Make cross bow a separate hunting season. Due to crossbows being able to be used during archery season, you will most likely see more animals being harvested driving down the numbers and eventually archery season will be shorter.

  2. Ken Yearman says:

    I am very against allowing the use of crossbows by anyone other than the disabled. I was once an avid bow hunter and hope to get back into it again, but I haven’t had the time to put in the hours required to ethically participate in the sport. By that I mean practicing long and hard to ensure my skills are sufficient enough to hit the mark with deadly accuracy, avoiding any chance of a gut shot or any other poor shot placement. I also mean putting in the required time to scout and place a tree stand in the perfect spot, with land owner permission. No one has any business being in the woods with a bow if their skills are “so-so” – it isn’t fair to the game or other hunters. So, until I can find the time to practice I will stick with rifle and muzzle loader seasons.

    Crossbows also require practice, but nothing like with a bow. I’ve used a crossbow to legally hunt whitetail in VT, but only once – I tore a tendon in my right shoulder one summer and couldn’t possibly pull a bow string. The next year, I went back to a bow as I had healed. My father just obtained his crossbow permit after agonizing over it for a long time. He has a legitimate disability that prevents him from pulling back a bow string, but even so he didn’t want to “cave in” using a crossbow because it is so much easier to use and takes much less practice to become deadly with it.

    I think the current regulations regarding who can use a crossbow for big game hunting should remain unchanged. In fact, the “proof” one must submit to a Game Warden in order to obtain a permit should be stricter – It’s only a hunch but I’m willing to bet there are a fair number of people who have permits who shouldn’t. Increasing license sales should NEVER be an excuse to change the rules at the expense of the herd. The deer herd has already been decimated by mismanagement, all for the almighty dollar. If F&W wants more does harvested then perhaps a one-week crossbow season by lottery can be held, concurrent with the existing archery season, with very few permits issued – much like the moose lottery. Make the lottery fee $10 and charge successful permitees another fee. Then, only serious hunters will apply and the herd won’t be further destroyed, which is what I predict would happen if everyone is allowed to run around with a crossbow.

  3. Herb Lamberton says:

    A NJ Resident and hunter, I see no harm done allowing crossbow during archery season. I have seen some who moved to crossbow returning to their compound. Crossbows are noisy and impossible to reload in a tree stand so they are not always the best solution. Hunting participation is declining, if this is a way to get people in the woods who do not have time to hone the skills needed with a compound this is a good solution

  4. henry duplease says:

    i have been a long time bow hunter until i devolped chronic lyme disease, now unable to pull back even a childs bow, i have to hunt with a crossbow or forget the sport, i have yet to take a deer but have a disabled crossbow permit for mass, to me i much rather be using a bow, a crossbow, is heavy akward and a general pain, but i have no choice, if a person is disabled he should be allowed to use a crossbow, if not, a season should be opened for one, maybe after a while of lugging a crossbow around u will see its not the enjoyment of using a real bow