I would love to hunt deer with a crossbow during the regular archery season, but the state I live in, Minnesota, doesn’t allow it. Currently there are 21 states that allow crossbows during the regular archery season and others are slowly, begrudgingly, moving that direction.
Why do so many states limit the ability of hunters to use a crossbow during the regular seasons? That’s a good question, and I’m sure each state has its own reasons, but in the end it really comes down to change. Nobody likes change.
Hunters who use traditional as well as compound bows have had little competition in the woods during their special bow seasons. While the number of archery hunters grows each year in some parts of the country, the population of these individuals is still relatively small when compared to the number of hunters that use firearms.
Now consider adding another group of individuals to the program who never had access to that season before. Even though the numbers will still be relatively low, the perception is that the woods will be crawling with hunters with weapons capable of killing accurately at great distances with no practice. This notion leads to intense lobbying of the powers that create the regulations as well as loads of chat room discussions and letters to the editor. Those who currently take advantage of the archery season sure don’t want another bunch of hunters in the woods.
Firearms hunters don’t like the idea of adding yet another demographic to kill deer earlier. This will mean fewer deer during the gun season because those killer crossbows will take the biggest and best before the gun hunters head afield.
The poor crossbow hunter. Even though crossbows are not that much more efficient than compound bows, there’s a misconception that crossbows are more deadly and accurate than a compound. I agree that it takes some practice to be consistent with a standard bow over a crossbow, but any weapon used to hunt game demands some practice time, even shotgun and rifles. It’s just a lazy hunter who doesn’t put some polish on his shooting skills before a season begins. So what if the crossbow is a bit more deadly and accurate? This means cleaner kills, and that should be the aim of every hunter.
The data is in. The states that have legalized crossbows during the archery season see an additional 6,000 to 9,000 bowhunters take to the woods. The amount of deer harvested during the archery season goes up, too, but it barely adds a percent to the overall kill.
In the outdoor sports there will always be elitists, those who believe they’re at the top of the ladder and everyone else below, trying to climb past them, deserves a boot in the mouth to knock them back down.
But those vying for position on the top best be careful. I’m old enough to remember when archery hunters were castigated for losing lots of wounded animals and messing up the hunt for the riflemen. It wouldn’t hurt to increase the size of the fraternity, and adding crossbow hunting to the regular archery season would open up economic opportunity for archers as well as bolster their lobbying power.
From the records it seems these are the results in the states where crossbows are legal, and I predict it’s just a matter of time before all 50 states see the benefits of expanding the program. I myself, can hardly wait.