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Wisconsin crossbow bill clears Senate committee, deer hunting could begin in 2014

Posted on August 24, 2013

Tim EisleWisconsin hunters would be able to hunt deer with crossbows beginning the fall of 2014, if everything continues as it did Aug. 22.

The Senate Natural Resources Committee approved a Substitute Amendment to Assembly Bill 194 on Aug. 22 that will establish a crossbow hunting season to run concurrently with the deer bowhunting seasons for 2014-15 and 2015-16.

The bill eliminates age and disability requirements for using a crossbow.  It also creates a new crossbow hunting license, and requires the DNR to note the type of weapon used when an animal is harvested.

The amendment added by the Senate committee on Aug. 22 gives the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) the ability to change the length of a crossbow deer hunting season if the agency deems changes appropriate – but only after two seasons of archery/crossbow deer hunting (January of 2016). The Wisconsin Bowhunters Association supported the amendment. The change meets the association's request for a "last in-first out" provision that would allow the DNR to shorten the crossbow season if stakeholders see too much of an increase in buck kill after two years of crossbow hunting.

The approval of the amendment by the Senate committee now must go to the full Senate for approval, and because the original Assembly Bill 194 was changed, must go back to the Assembly for approval.  If both of those bodies approve the bill it will go to Gov. Scott Walker for approval.  If he signs it, deer hunting with a crossbow would begin with the bow deer season that opens in September of 2014.

At the Senate committee hearing on AB 194 on Aug. 21, 16 people testified in favor of the bill and four individuals filled out slips in support of the bill.  Nobody testified or filled out a slip against the bill.

On Aug. 22, senators Kedzie, Moulton, Tiffany and Wirch voted for the bill, while Sen. Miller opposed it.