Crossbow kill tops 4,000
Albany — Crossbow hunters in New York state killed about 4,000 deer last season, the first in which the implements could be used within a portion of the regular archery season.
While DEC earlier this month had yet to release its 2014-15 deer harvest statistics, it was revealed to sportsman education instructors at a meeting in Ballston Spa that the crossbow kill was just over 4,000 last season.
About 2,200 crossbow hunters reported their harvest, which equates to a preliminary “calculated take” of just over 4,000.
But DEC wildlife biologist Jeremy Hurst said that number could be altered slightly as staff narrow down harvest reporting rates and other factors.
“We’re still in the process of reviewing the (harvest) reports to make sure kill dates match with season and implement, etc.,” Hurst said earlier this month. “Also, we don’t know if the new reporting system affected reporting rates. So we can’t calculate the take until all the reports have been processed and a reporting rate calculated.”
Last season was the first in which crossbows were legal implements during portions of the Northern and Southern zone archery seasons – the final two weeks of the Southern Zone archery season and the final 10 days of the Northern Zone archery season.
While some hunters were disappointed crossbows weren’t legalized for the entire archery season, it was a huge step that capped a lengthy debate and legislative effort. Crossbows remained prohibited during the archery season in Suffolk and Westchester counties, as well as in archery-only units of Albany and Monroe counties.
And there was 250-foot setback requirement for discharging a crossbow, compared to 150 feet for compounds, recurves and longbows near dwellings.
New York Crossbow Coalition president Rick McDermott, whose group was influential in the passage of less restrictive crossbow use regulations, said there’s more work to be done.
“We are continuing to pursue the expansion of crossbow acceptance,” McDermott said in an email to coalition members. “The first priority is to see the crossbow classification changed to require the use of an (archery license).”
McDermott said crossbow users should be required to take the bowhunter education course along with other archers because “archery hunting requires a different skill set than firearms hunting. This cannot be covered to the extent necessary in the hunter education class.”
Crossbow users are currently required only to sign a “certificate of qualification” within the hunting regulations guide. Crossbow use is governed by a muzzleloader hunting license.
“For safety and to understand the differences (between implements), crossbow users should be required to take the bowhunter education class, as other archers,” McDermott said.
Other goals for the coalition in 2015 include:
• eliminating the 200-pound maximum draw weight for crossbows, which McDermott said was placed in the crossbow regulations because of a “misconception that draw weight equates directly to energy.”
The 200-pound draw weight limit made several popular crossbow models illegal for use in New York – including some crossbows that were purchased by New York hunters at a time when the regulations didn’t include a draw weight limit.
• altering regulations to allow youths to use a crossbow during the state’s three-day youth deer hunt during the Columbus Day weekend.
• working to remove the prohibition on crossbow use in Suffolk and Westchester counties to bring them in line with other areas of the state.