By Brodie Swisher
Love them or hate them, crossbows are here to stay. They have finally carved out a stable spot in the archery world, and growth in the crossbow market continues to explode. I’ll be quick to point out that I’ve never been a “crossbow guy.” I grew up in Tennessee where crossbow hunting was for hunters that had some physical disability. The use of a crossbow during archery season required a doctor’s note. So understandably, I didn’t have a healthy respect for the crossbow on the same playing field as a bow you must draw at the moment of shot. And while I still laugh when I hear a guy say, “Crossbows aren’t any different than a bow you draw,” I’ve grown to appreciate the increased hunting opportunities around the country that crossbows have allowed for younger archers…and older archers too!
Crossbows Across the U.S.
As I mentioned, Tennessee was once a state that had very limited crossbow use for the average hunter. Those days have come and gone. Years ago the decision was made for crossbows to be allowed during the regular archery season. And as you might expect, there was a good mix of both excitement and outrage at the decision. But it seems with each passing season, more and more states jump on the bandwagon to allow crossbow hunting during their state archery season.
Wisconsin has become one of the latest states to open up crossbow hunting for all hunters, regardless of age, and eliminating the disability requirement. Hunters in Wisconsin are now able to buy a crossbow license along with their other licenses. In essence, you can buy either an archery tag or a crossbow tag, or both. There is a provision that makes buying both licenses affordable (an additional $3). The season will simply run concurrently with archery season. Basically, you can choose your weapon during archery season.
New York also recently made changes to increase crossbow hunting opportunities during the state’s archery season. The new state budget includes an agreement that will give crossbow hunters their own season in New York. Language within the budget will allow crossbow use for all small game, including turkeys, and any big game season in which firearms are allowed. It will also allow crossbow use in the last 14 days of the Southern Zone archery deer and bear season and the final 10 days of the Northern Zone archery deer and bear seasons.
The number of states that now allow crossbow hunting during archery season is too great to list. Be sure to check your state regulations before hunting as many states have partial seasons open to crossbow hunting.
Earlier Opps for Young Hunters
One of the most exciting things to me about the growing crossbow opportunities is that younger hunters can now take part in archery season at an earlier age. Let’s face it. Kids can handle shooting a crossbow several years prior to their ability to draw a regular bow that is capable of killing a deer. My son, Aidan, is 8. He’s been chompin’ at the bit to bowhunt since he was 4. His compound bow simply isn’t suited for killing big game yet. In a few years he’ll be pulling that kind of weight. For now, he and I are both super-excited for him to have the opportunity to join me during archery season with a crossbow. Now, you can fuss all you want about how he should wait until he is older to begin hunting, and how he isn’t really “archery hunting” or whatever. I refuse to get into such a senseless debate. I simply know that with a crossbow my son has the opportunity at an earlier age to hunt with his daddy and shoot stuff when it walks in front of his stand or blind. To me, that’s awesome! If it increases hunting opportunities for kids…I’m all for it.
But there’s also the older generation that can benefit from growing crossbow hunting opportunities. Several years ago I watched a friend’s dad come to the painful realization that he could no longer draw his bow due to shoulder damage. When the crossbow opportunity came about in his state, he was once again back in the bowhunting woods.
The bottom line is that hunters need to quit being the worst enemy of other hunters. Elitist need to come off their high horse and realize that we’re all in this thing together. If it’s not your thing…don’t do it! But don’t allow yourself to be a part of hatin’ on another hunter that does.
Best of the Best in Crossbow Hunting
As I previously mentioned, my crossbow shooting experience has been minimal. Some years ago a guy handed me one in an archery shop and said, “Here, shoot this.” The thing was so loud it scared me! But many years later, advancements in equipment have come a long way. One of the slickest crossbows I’ve yet to play with is the Mission MXB 320. The MXB 320 harnesses deadly power and precision, and yet maneuvers with balance and ease. I was quickly impressed with the bow’s adjustability with an adjustable stock that ensures the bow will work for both me and my kids. My kids and I played with the MXB 320 in the back yard for a bit, and I was blown away by the out-of-the-box accuracy with this bow. In fact, I’ve yet to adjust the scope. In their first few shots my kids put bolts all over the bullseye. After a few shots on the target and with excitement in his voice, my son said, “I can’t wait for deer season!”
Unlike other crossbows with a price tag of well over a thousand bucks, the MXB 320 rings up at just $599 (crossbow only) and allows you to choose one of four accessory packages to complete your set up. Check out www.missionarchery.com for all the latest on their great line of crossbows.
So are crossbows good or bad for hunting? The answer has got to be good. Increased hunting opportunities for young kids…and old kids too…is always a good thing!