Saturday, January 28th, 2023
Saturday, January 28th, 2023

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Crossbow question ignites controversy

“They have more crossbow hunters than bowhunters,” Zeuske said.
“It’s not part of archery; it’s a different deal. If it shortens
our season, or gives us a black eye, we don’t want to get tied in
with that.”

Wade Jeske owns Lena Swamp Archery near Oconto Falls and is a
WBH board member.

“WBH’s main mission is to protect the length of our season,”
Jeske said. “We fight the bait and no bait, and lose people over
that. Now we’ll lose people over this. WBH is not against
crossbows, we just don’t want them in the bow season. If they want
to organize and fight for their own season, they can do that. If we
all get lumped together, and the kill gets too high, it will
shorten the season for everyone.”

Jeske also pointed out that if crossbows are allowed during the
gun deer season, convicted felons could legally hunt with
crossbows. Felons may not legally own or possess firearms.

He also fears it would increase the amount of cabin shooting
because neighbors would not be able to hear a crossbow being
discharged by people shooting “feeder” deer at night from their

Hendricks said WBH should embrace crossbow users as a means of
hiking membership. He said Wisconsin sells about 250,000 archery
licenses each year. He said that if WBH has 10,000 or 11,000
members, there are a lot of people out there who might be
interested in using crossbows.

“I got letters back from WBH members who were quitting WBH and
joining our group,” Hendricks said. “One guy was offering a free
membership to ACF to anyone who resigned from WBH and was willing
to join ACF. I don’t think they (WBH) realize how many of their
members support crossbows. I spend a lot of time in Wisconsin and I
know there is more support in Wisconsin for crossbows than WBH ever

“We will see what comes out of the spring hearings and take it
from there,” said Allen, who is slightly encouraged because the DNR
has pulled back its position on crossbow use.

The DNR Deer Streamlining Committee had suggested expanded
crossbow use as one way of simplifying the deer hunting
regulations. DNR deer ecologist Keith Warnke said the DNR heard
from the WBH and decided to withdraw that suggestion if it meant
that WBH would block the remainder of the DNR’s Deer Streamlining

But that’s not going to keep Nicholson from pushing for crossbow
support at the spring hearings.

“I am supporting the question. The last two weeks things have
changed,” Nicholson said. “I have legislators, DNR calling me.
We’re starting a big ball rolling. The biggest thing is it’s just
another opportunity to get more hunters into the field. We’re
losing hunters every year. We’re a dying breed. It’s just another
way to hunt.

“I also favor lowering the hunting age to 10 if you put a
10-year-old out there with a crossbow, they can get out there right
away,” he said. “They might not be able to pull a 30-pound bow
back, but they can shoot a crossbow.

“An 8-year-old can duck hunt in Arkansas, but they can’t go
through hunter safety up here,” said Nicholson, a hunter safety

“We’re trying to inform our membership that the question is
there. We want to put on a push, but we don’t have members in every

Ken Rissley, of Monticello, is chairman of the Conservation
Congress Upland Game Committee. That’s the committee Schmidt
persuaded to carry the question to the spring hearings. Schmidt
also attended big game and legislative committees, but the crossbow
question was rejected at those meetings.

Rissley said that just because the Conservation Congress is
airing the question on April 11 doesn’t mean the congress supports
expanded crossbow use. He said public opinion is the congress’ main
product. To get that opinion, the congress puts out advisory

“Why not see what the public thinks? Just because it’s on the
questionnaire doesn’t mean it’s going to become law,” said Rissley

Schmidt isn’t surprised at the uproar his efforts have caused in
the hunting community.

“Heck, I’m surprised it even made it to the questionnaire,”
Schmidt said. “I really didn’t think it would get past the congress
executive council, but it did and that made me happy. That’s the
whole idea behind the congress, if you don’t put it out there,
people don’t get a chance to express their wishes on it.”

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