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Archery Crossbows Present Expanded Hunting Opportunities

Crossbows Present Expanded Hunting Opportunities

A lot of trad and compound shooters hate to see the crossbow boom. While those who opt for vertical bows have to put in plenty of practice hours, develop the strength to draw, and master stealth in the stand, crossbow hunters seem to have it much easier — and maybe even an unfair advantage.

But love them or hate them, crossbows do present expanded hunting opportunities.

Crossbows are legalized archery season gear in more than half of the country, and fair game for some hunters or during firearms seasons in just about the rest of the states. 

Crossbows can be a great way to get youth started with bowhunting. While most kids can’t pull back enough poundage to kill a deer with a compound, they can shoulder a crossbow. This route gets them hooked young and ups the odds of them becoming lifelong hunters.

Similarly, new hunters who aren’t comfortable with firearms yet or want to get in on early seasons can quickly become field-ready with a crossbow.

And for hunters of any age and experience level who suffer from physical injuries or disabilities, crossbows can allow them to continue hunting during archery seasons.

There are also those hunters who don’t have access to or the ability to regularly visit a practice range to get in enough reps to confidently and ethically hunt with a vertical bow. But with a crossbow, they can be deadly in no time at all.

Crossbows can extend hunting seasons overall as well. The opportunity to log more hours in the stand over a longer period of time or even swap out for a crossbow when weather gets so frigid it’s challenging to draw a compound can give bowhunters a better chance of filling tags.

This all adds up to potentially more hunters in the woods for increased participation numbers and harvest numbers.

Now is all this actually better for the overall hunting community? Well, that’s another post entirely…

author avatar
The Bow Bully
The Bow Bully discusses a variety of archery topics and offers tips, advice and the occasional nudge to make you a better bowhunter. With years of experience, and an attitude to match, you'll find the Bully has something to offer both beginners and seasoned hunters.

3 thoughts on “Crossbows Present Expanded Hunting Opportunities”

  1. TBB,

    IMHO, think that crossbows, because they are not hand drawn and held for the shot, should be legal in the musket/gun hunt seasons and not in the archery season. Ditto for the pneumatic arrow shooters. They are not bows – both, by design, are guns that shoot arrows.

    My concern is that “casual archers” don’t remember that a crossbow doesn’t have the same power and multi-shot capability of a centerfire rifle. Archery is a surgical technique – just hitting the deer is not good enough.

    When crossbows were first legalized in my area many gun hunters, attracted by the early and long archery season jumped on the bandwagon. Those first couple of years were awful. Being an experienced bowhunter, I was often called to help recover deer that crossbow newbies had hit and couldn’t find. There were lots of deer carcasses found during the gun season. 🙁

    Technology has really improved the crossbows over the past 20 years but my concern still is that the guy looking to be an “instant bowhunter” is going to wound more game than he recovers.

    I’ve nothing against the weapon (have an Excalibur Exocet myself) but think that people should be educated about the limitations and requirements to hunting with a crossbow.


  2. I am a paraplegic. I can still draw a bow and am still reasonably accurate with one. My problem is one of “window”. What I mean is that with a conventional bow, recurve or compound, my wheel chair only allows me a small window in which I can shoot. The crossbow widens that window a great deal.

    I don’t really like the idea of getting older,, but since the alternative is unattractive I will endeavor to keep doing it. The problem is that as I age I find myself weaker, shakier, and,,, well the rest of you old farts know what I’m saying. None of it is making my hunting time more productive. So,, the crossbow,, which in my youth (up till about my 60s) I decried as the devils work,, is now my only weapon for bow hunting.

    It wasn’t all that long ago that here, in Pa, you had to be disabled in order to have permission to use a crossbow for hunting. I’m not so sure that wasn’t a good idea. However, as our host has mentioned, it has brought more people to the sport,, which is likely the only way we are going to be able to keep hunting in the future. (people vote). So, for that reason alone, I think it is necessary.

    Every new thing, be it crossbows, compound bows, telescopic sights or even smokeless powder, will have the “purists” complaining. Many long for the “good old days”,, but you have to ask yourself,,, just how good were they?

    Anyway,, good article Bow B,, and good comment Hank. I hope more people read them both.


  3. Bravo, edlee! FM has immense respect and admiration for people who in spite of substantial obstacles and/or handicaps refuse to NOT engage with life. One of my besties is legally blind though he can see well enough to shoot with a powerful scope or laser sight. We became friends 40+ years ago and proud to have been the one who introduced him to the joy of shooting sports. Like you, he’s no quitter and he’s still going.

    To some extent, most of us have to use some kind of “assistive device” or other in doing what needs done safely and enjoyably in our sports and/or hobbies, whether it be a scope, a brace, bipod, crossbow or whatever. To satisfy the “purists” one would have to not go beyond using bare hands to throw a projectile at a target or prey. FM believes if you are making everybody happy, you’re doing something wrong. Keep on truckin’.

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