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April 12, 2007

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Discussion Topic: Should Crossbows Be Legal for Archery Seasons?

From Mlive.com:

The [Michigan] Natural Resources Commission will consider new regulations at its monthly meeting Thursday that will make it easier for people with disabilities to qualify for a crossbow permit for deer hunting and will automatically allow all senior citizens to use the licenses. . . . Anyone who is 65 or older would be allowed to use a crossbow during archery deer season.

"We're not saying that when you turn 65 you're decrepit, but there are a lot of people who have difficulty using a conventional bow, [said Rod Clute, big game specialist at the Department of Natural Resources.] “We're not saying that when you turn 65, throw your compound bow away and get a crossbow, but this gives an opportunity to those people who just had to do that."

What do you think? Should crossbows be legal during archery seasons for disabled hunters or seniors? Should they be legal for anyone during any season?


Gable Sadovsky

The MI DNR has to be the worst DNR in all of the 50 states. Not only does the state have a deer population problem (along with CWD), but the length of their deer season bears no corelation with their residential deer herd. Is it really supprising that they would consider such a law? I spent three years their during law school and have never been so disapointed in how a population was managed. I have no problem with allowing seniors or people with upper limb disabilities to use crossbows duing archery--but no one else (to include prohibiting kids). In fact the MI DNR should allow such use, but with the additional requirement that the first deer taken with the cross bow must be a doe. I have never hunted in a state where I have seen "no doe hunting" signs, and have actually heard grown men brag about how they havent shot a doe--ever. Michigan's DNR should use this cross bow thing as a management tool to increase the doe harvest, because in my three deer seasons up there I was the only one I knew who shot a doe. I will never forget the 2004 bow season hunting just West of Lansing, MI when I walked over to a bunch of guys standing around looking at one of their bucks. They were all 40 plus in age and bragging about how big that 4pt was. Of course I answered where I am from (Texas) their is nothing nice about a 4pt--unless your a kid! Michigan is going down the tube, as is evidenced by the advertisements on TV to bring business to Michigan, its unfortunate that the DNR is going right along with it.


For the purposes of hunting regulations, crossbows should be treated as any other archery equipment.

At least for the purposes of deer hunting in the east, which requires shooting at very close ranges, modern compound bows are not greatly more difficult to shoot than crossbows. With a good choice of a beginner bow, a bit of good advise and two weeks of practice, most people should be able to shoot sub-8" groups out to 25 yards. Furthermore, modern bows are very smooth, have very high let-offs, and high draw weights are not required for hunting deer; so for most people strength should not be a big issue either way. We cannot argue that the shooting component of using a crossbow is greatly different from other archery, at least for the purpose of hunting whitetails.

The more important question is whether or not crossbows are easier implements with which to hunt. We can break this down into two key issues: effective range and movement.

On whitetail deer, which normally bolt at sudden sounds rather that freezing, the effective range of a crossbow is perhaps 30 yards. This is not a function of the ballistics of the bolt (or arrow), but rather is a result of the speed with which deer can react to the sound of the bow. The effective range of even the rather slow modern compound bows is perhaps 25 yards. This difference is small, and range-related factors such as stand placement will have much bigger effects on success than this difference in effective range.

Crossbows require less movement in the moments before a shot is taken than do vertical bows. This is probably the greatest practical difference between crossbows and other bows. However, there are very many ways to startle a deer that is within archery range. Whatever the form of archery equipment, an archer must be very stealthy within bow range of any game.

To argue that hunting with a crossbow is greatly different from other bowhunting is simply an elitist attitude.


Of course crossbows should be allowed for disabled hunters during archery season. And I have no problem with seniors using them as well. I have a feeling the people who are opposed to the later will feel differently when their age prevents them from pulling back a conventional bow.
Beyond these exceptions, however, I would prefer that they not be allowed during bow season, rather only during gun and muzzleloader.


I don't see any good reason not to allow crossbows for anyone during the archery deer season. The hard part about killing a deer with a bow isn't hitting your target, but getting a deer within 30 yards. And that challenge is relatively unchanged whether you're using a crossbow or conventional bow.

Matt Mallery

I am against crossbows during archery season. They are basically a rifle that shoots arrows and are a lot easier to use than bows. I also do not like in-line muzzleloaders. They should not be used during blackpowder season.

Mike Diehl

Crossbows are a stringed/tension driven weapon and should be allowed during the archery season. The effective hunting range of a crossbow is no different than that of a good bow, and it does not remotely approach even what a muzzleloader can do. And crossbows reload rate is generally slower than what a talented archer can do.

In line muzzleloaders are functionally identical to all other muzzleloaders and belong in the muzzleloading season. You get one shot then a substantial wait prior to reloading.

Given all the carping that the "anti-in-line" whiners and the "bows not crossbows" whiners trying to weasel a "special season for people who only use *their* ptreffered weapon, I'm to the point where I think we should eliminate all restrictions on methods of take and allow the use of any weapon during any season.

People need to stop trying to piss in someone else's punch bowl and just go about the business of hunting. If you want to hunt with an atl-atl or a p.o.s. flintlock
that's fine. But don't expect the whole damned world to stop hunting and get out of your way. If you want a *private hunt,* go hunt high fence or get a lease.


I think that crossbows should only be allowed for those who are not capable of using conventional archery equipment. Crossbows give hunters an extra advantage over those who hunt with conventional equipment. It is much easier draw a crossbow and leave it before a deer is there than it is to draw on the animal with a bow. Most archers hunt with a bow for the added challange, and a crossbow takes a good portion of that challange away.


I agree that there is too much in-fighting among us over implements, and too much everyone-should-use-what-I-use thinking.
I do think, however, that allowing any and all implements during any and all seasons would take things way too far. Allowing crossbows during archery season would not, for example, prevent conventional archers from doing their thing. But if you allowed guns during archery season--with armies of guys pushing deer all over place and everything else that comes with gun season--it would would virtually preclude success with a bow for many.


I don't like the idea of crossbows during the archery season; I would consider throwing knives, hatchets, or atal atal to be ok.

Mike Diehl

Joel -- Maybe you're right an maybe not. I think the "armies of guys" pushing deers all over the place is an interesting concern. I've done most of my hunting during the centerfire season. In my opinion, having lots of people moving the deer can, at times, *help* the short range ambush hunter instead of hurting them. Deer fleeing from the camoe'd guys on ATVs are a lot less wary about the guy in blaze orange sitting quietly on the edge of a cutting.

The price of course is that there are lots of people in the woods. And I think that is what motivates exclusionists -- people who want to set narrow constraints on methods of take -- they want the woods for themselves.

I agree that there are real compelling differences in the capability between things that go twang, vs muzzleloading firearms, vs centerfire rifles. But within those categories there are no really compelling differences. I know because I've done plenty of shooting with all of them.

A Springfield 1863 rifled musket in the hands of a competent shooter will do as well as a Savage 10 ML-II. The ignition reliability is virtually identical (if you want risky ignition, use a flint-lock). A Sharps Buffalo Rifle class ML will shoot as well as any modern centerfire vis accuracy for non-military shooting setups. The difference between CF and ML is all in reload rates.

In bows, there are some technical advantages in using compound bows vs recurves or (gasp, LONG bows). One needs to be physically stronger to use the latter two than a compound bow. But in terms of effective range, accuracy, and reload rate, there is no compelling difference.

Crossbows have about the same degree of accuracy and a slightly slower reload rate than a good compound bow.

My suggestion to eliminate all restrictions on methods of take was partly serious and partly a Jonathan Swift type suggestion. I think if we forced all the anti-in-line and anti-crossbow whiners to shut up and hunt with the centerfire hunters for a few decades, then when the rest of the public hunters concede a slice of their "traditional" season (when hunting seasons were first created and enforced as a matter of law, *everyone* hunted with centerfire rifles), the people who want the greater challenge of a lower reload rate and shorter effective range won't be so petty about it all.

Tim Stieren

We are all hunters here and need to stop fighting among ourselves when there are some many organizations trying to band hunting completly. I believe that Crossbows should be allowed during archery season for at least people with disabilities, seniors, and children. People should not be excluded because they are unable to pull a compond bow back. Children under 14 should definitely be able to use crossbows because the kids today are the future of hunting. Should crossbows be allowed for anyone? I am not sure but I don't believe it would change archery season that much. Now for sure we need to keep archery, mussleloader, and center firearms in different seasons.


In Arkansas crossbows have been allowed for some time during archery season. After the initial rush to get the new "easy" tool for deer slaying, everyone figures out that the deer don't volunteer to commit suicide. I hunt with a compound. If it gets more hunters in the woods, more wives and kids interested in hunting; I'm for it!


I don't want to press the point because I suspected your suggestion was of the Jonathan Swift type. I will point out first that I hunt with a centerfire, an in-line, a flintlock, and a compound bow.
From that perspective, while having armies of guys running around might help the odd bowhunter get lucky, it absolutely has a diliterious overall effect. Consistently successful bowhunting really does rely on relatively unpressured deer. Also, it's the experience of hunting relatively unpressured deer that makes bowhunting so special to many of us. I think we should be able to enjoy that separately from what is typically a very different experience during gun season (which can also be enjoyable.)
Two different experiences, best enjoyed separately, I'd say.
However, crossbows should not efffect that and I wouldn't have a big problem with their being allowed during archery seasons.

jeff Narusch

The number one most important thing that has to be considered is that we need more hunters in our ranks.Realy does it matter what a person uses to enjoy a sport we all love. The revenue alone generated would help all DNR's no matter how we feel they handle their departments.This also would lead to a greater voice against the anti's. Why does anyone have the right to make my choice for me. Stop dividing or ranks. All I hear anymore is how one group way of doin things is the only way.Bow vs Compound vs crossbow,Fly fishing vs bait fishing on and on about who's way is the only. Let people make their own choices and reveal in the fact that you still have people that enjoy the outdoors as you do and is willing to pay their dues to help you to continue your choices. Get along or its all gone!


I think the thing that gets to most bowhunters when considering allowing crossbows during the whole archery season is that the effort put into crossbow hunting is less. To be a proficient archer we must practice shooting quite regularly to be consistent with form and resulting accuracy. The "shooting" of a crossbow is much more similar to that of a gun: put the crosshairs on the deer and pull the trigger. This makes it easier for the guy who wants to hunt more but not put in the extra effort to be a proficient archer. I'm not trying to offend anyone here, but allowing crossbows (besides for those with disabilities and older folks) offends (or should offend)bowhunters. And, of course, i'm not saying everyone who would use a crossbow wouldn't be proficient, but you get the point.

Matt Mallery

In lines are for people who are too lazy to learn to use a real muzzleloader. They just want the extra hunting season. Crossbows are for hunters who do not want to take the time to learn to use a bow, and have no place in archery season. Crossbows in archery season defeat the whole purpose of archery season, and that is to reward hunters who are willing to put forth the extra effort. In Lines are the same thing and should only be allowed during regular centerfire season.

Mike Diehl

"The "shooting" of a crossbow is much more similar to that of a gun: put the crosshairs on the deer and pull the trigger."

Consistency of form and motion is just as important to rifle hunters as it is to anyone else. I have never fired a crossbow, but I *suppose* that consistency is required of crossbow hunters too.


I think that it would be OK to use crossbows during regular archery season. However, I would rather just use a regular bow. I think that it is much more fun. Personally, I start shooting my bow in early March to get ready for bow season. For me, I like to get outside and just shoot, making the best of shots. Then, keep on doing that until the season starts. It also much more challanging.

Chad from Kentucky


i hunt with a crossbow and i don't agree that people like me don't put time into practicing with it. i have hit the same spot twice while practicing so it shows that your bolt flucuates when shooting.

Colin W. Mckee

Hell ya they should!!!!!!

I'm no bow hunter, but I know that if I went bowhunting thats what I would use.


Hey why not just let everyone use a 30/30 during hunting season too. Look it is BOW HUNTING. I think it is OK for those who are disabled and for Seniors who couldn't pull back a bow anymore, but that is about it.

AP from TN

Just this past year, TN hunters were allowed to use crossbows during regular archery season for the first time. I couldn't tell you, objectively, if this has been good or bad overall, but I can speak from my own experience.

On sunday evening of opening weekend, I visited a WMA where I planned to hunt. I arrived to the parking area at about 2:30, and to my surprise the lot was filled with vehicles. Even as I exited my vehicle, another truck pulled in, and from it appeared two crossbow wielding hunters. I greeted them kindly, and asked them where they planned on hunting, and they responded with "eh, we're just gonna walk around and see if we see anything." This bothered me, but on I went to my chosen spot. Apparently, everyone else who was there decided they also wanted walk around, with crossbows in hand, to "see if they could see anything",practically ruining my hunt.

Now, here' the problem. All these guys who have went out and bought crossbows delight themselves at the thought taking a deer at 50 yards because they think, or perhaps know, that their weapon can do it, despite the "effective range" you all are talking about. Hence, the mind set of these individuals is that the normal measures and precautions needed for a successful "bow" hunt are not relevant when one uses a crossbow. At least that's what I'm inferring, because real "bow" hunters wouldn't have been out there doing what these guys were doing. So, what I'm getting at here is that perhaps it's not the crossbow thats the problem, but the mind set that comes with it. It's the able-bodied hunter who thinks he or she can cut corners due to a more capable weapon. And on that account, I have to say I'm against the use of crossbows during archery season. However, I don't mean to judge all hunters who use crossbows, it just so happens that the ones I have ran into have given the word "crossbow" a negative connation in my mind.

Mike Diehl

@Jason -
"Hey why not just let everyone use a 30/30 during hunting season too. Look it is BOW HUNTING."

Eliminate special bow hunting (and ML) seasons entirely is an equitable solution, IMO. But in the spirit of your reply I ask, to what extent do the facts support the idea that crossbow hunters really have substantially superior effective range or success rates over other hunters?

"eh, we're just gonna walk around and see if we see anything." This bothered me, but on I went to my chosen spot. Apparently, everyone else who was there decided they also wanted walk around, with crossbows in hand, to "see if they could see anything",practically ruining my hunt."

Look, I see people hunting in ways that I would not approve of as well. But I don't claim a special personal right to be free of their presence on the landscape during the centerfire or any other season.


Different seasons, limitations, etc., are set in the world of hunting. Start from there and think about why. People bring up extremes in order to give examples. Archery and rifle hunting are obviously different, why are these seasons different and where should other weapons fit in?

Jim Dicken

Kentucky recently had a very divisive discussion on this topic. HERE in KY we can take Turkey with a bow during the same deer season. The problem is we allow baiting,and the temptation to take a Turkey that walks in on Bait is overwhelming to some and enabling to poachers. The state crammed the Crossbow down our throats without notifying the hunters. In the end a compromise was hammered out. Crossbows get a longer season during the Archery season up from 10 days to 50 I think.. but no where near the 135 days that were going to be allowed. NO research was done on the affect to the Turkey Population or to what it could mean to the deer herd. Biologists took guesses and passed them off as "Biology". There were a ton of concerns beyod this.. in the end Crossbows were give a larger season.. Kentucky allows any person with a Doctor's statement to use a Crossbow during the entire Bow season.
Jim Dicken

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