Wisconsin DNR crossbow hunting report finds no sociological or biological reasons not to continue with season

Natural Resources Board member Bill Smith said that crossbows have helped new people become hunters. (Photo by Tim Eisele)

At the request of the Natural Resources Board, the DNR investigated the biological and sociological implications of using crossbows to harvest deer.

Crossbows have been legal for the general hunting public since 2014, and the legislature asked the DNR to evaluate the seasons.

The long and the short of it, according to DNR: there are no biological concerns for deer herd management, and most deer hunters don’t see it as an imposing social issue.

The DNR conducted samples of gun, archery and crossbow hunters, hunters who have stopped deer hunting, data in the license sales files, harvest information, crossbow seasons in other states, and businesses that sell archery and crossbow equipment.

The quick and dirty from what they found:

• On average, gun-only hunters are more likely to add a crossbow license rather than give up their gun hunting license;
• Archery-only hunters are equally likely to add a crossbow license as they are to switch to only buying a crossbow license;
• Gun and archery hunters are harvesting fewer bucks relative to their license sales percentage and crossbow hunters are harvesting more;
• Wisconsin is fairly unique in having a crossbow season that is not combined with the archery season;
• Success rates for bucks are higher for crossbow hunters than for gun or archery hunters;
• Hunting license sales have declined since 2014, while license revenue have increased slightly.  The rationale is that as people drop archery and gun licenses, they purchase patron licenses.

The Natural Resources Board indicated that it is concerned over the fairest distribution of bucks among all hunters.

Following receipt of harvest recommendations from County Deer Advisory Councils in December, the NRB will again discuss deer seasons in January and intends to ask the Conservation Congress to obtain feedback from the public on deer hunting questions next April.

To examine all 140 pages of the report, click here.

Categories: Bloggers on Hunting, Wisconsin – Tim Eisele

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