Sunday, February 5th, 2023
Sunday, February 5th, 2023

Breaking News for

Sportsmen Since 1967

State liberalizes crossbow rules

Lansing – The use of crossbows during the archery deer season
has been approved by the state Natural Resources Commission for
anyone hunting in Zone 3, and for anyone age 50 and over hunting
during the early archery season, statewide.

The NRC voted to approve the regulation changes at its monthly
meeting last week in Lansing, following nearly three hours of
public testimony by dozens of hunters.

An NRC subcommittee held meetings on crossbow use for the past
six months and proposed several changes to archery-hunting
regulations that would liberalize the use of crossbows.

An 11th-hour amendment requested by commissioner John Madigan
(Munising) and supported by commissioner Mary Brown (Kalamazoo),
changed the original proposal to the use of a crossbow:

€ during any hunting season in Zone 3;

€ by anyone age 50 or older from Oct. 1-Nov. 14, statewide;

€ during any season in which a firearm may be used, for both big
game and small game;

€ and to restrict bolt velocity to 350 feet per second.

The regulation as passed has a 3-year sunset included in the
language, which means the commission will revisit the issue in 2012
after data have been collected on resource impact and hunter

A DNR press release dated Feb. 25 stated that the NRC would
“vote at its March 5 meeting on a proposal to allow additional use
of crossbows by hunters. The proposal, which is based upon
recommendations by a committee considering crossbow regulations for
more than six months, would allow the use of crossbows:

€ during any season in which a firearm may be used, for both big
game and small game;

€ for deer hunting from Dec. 1-Jan. 1 in southern Michigan, with
an archery deer license, and/or;

€ by anyone 65 years of age or older during any deer

“The original proposal (in the release) was just to get
something on the table for discussion,” Madigan told Michigan
Outdoor News. “We’ve taken six months of testimony. When the (DNR)
director tells us that opening up crossbows for use won’t harm the
resource and will increase hunter opportunity, it’s something we
have to look at.”

Madigan said that setting the age limit for use of a crossbow at
age 50 was approved because studies show that participation in
archery hunting dips after age 50.

The commission voted 4-0 in favor of the amended proposal.
Commissioners Madigan, Brown, Frank Wheatlake (Reed City), and J.R.
Richardson (Ontonagon) supported the measure. NRC Chairman Keith
Charters only votes if there is a tie, but stated that he supported
the proposal. Commissioner Hurley Coleman (Saginaw) was absent from
the meeting, and the vacant seat left when Darnell Early resigned
late last year has not yet been filled by the governor.

“We respect everyone’s opinion,” Wheatlake said prior to the
vote, “but let’s face it, we have too many deer in Zone 3. It’s
mostly private property. This is a good opportunity to take more

In August of 2008, the NRC_eased the rules on obtaining a
crossbow permit for individuals with disabilities and those who
lack adequate strength to draw a vertical bow.

But a bill that passed the House last year, sponsored by Rep.
Joel Sheltrown, D-West Branch, and calling for full inclusion of
crossbows during the Michigan archery season, sent the NRC
scrambling to re-examine crossbow regulations.

The commission set up a crossbow subcommittee, which held public
meetings for the past six months.

The Michigan Bowhunters Association, which years ago lobbied for
the establishment of an archery season, has opposed the full
inclusion of crossbows in the archery season, citing major
differences between crossbows and vertical bows. Its president,
Bruce Levy, was caught off-guard with the late amendment and the
ensuing vote.

“I’m very disappointed,”_Levy told MON. “We’ve worked closely
with the DNR for years and they sold us out for 30 pieces of
silver. Mary Brown is the only commissioner (who voted) that lives
in Zone 3. None of the others are from Zone 3 so they won’t have
full inclusion in their district.

“We heard that the U.P. Sportsmen’s Alliance was pushing for the
50-and-over rule. It just blows my mind that they would jump from
65 to 50. That’s got to be the lowest age in the country.”

Many who attended the meeting were in support of liberalizing
the regulations. Of those who addressed the commission, roughly 60
percent favored legalizing some type of crossbow hunting.

“The crossbow has long been accepted as a fair-chase weapon,”
Jim Sweeney, of Traverse City, told the commission. “It is
currently lumped into the firearms season. The time has come to
create a crossbow season for those individuals who wish to hunt
with a crossbow outside of the firearms season.”

“There is no scientific data that says you should be restricting
the use of crossbows,” Jeff DeRegnaucourt added.

Not everyone supported the changes.

“When you remove the challenge from the game, you destroy the
game,” Jerry Keck, of Tuscola County Archers, told the

“If a person chooses not to participate in a sport, it’s because
of their choice, not their weapon,” added James Larsen, of Michigan
Traditional Bowhunters, who also opposed the changes.

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