Archery Season In Progress
Inside the Outdoors, October 9, 2009

It’s official. The statewide archery season for deer hunting is underway. It began Oct. 3 and will close temporarily Nov. 14 and then resume Dec. 26 and end Jan. 9, 2010. Hunters will be allowed to keep one antlered deer per license year, and one antlerless deer with each required antlerless license.

This factual information comes to us annually provided by the Pennsylvania Game Commission, and is something to which all sportsmen must pay particular attention.

But over and above that was a controversy that had several of the Commission members discussing whether or not the crossbow would be allowed to be used for hunting deer this fall. By a narrow margin, it was voted that hunters could use this weapon for purposes of pursuing game.

I talked to Mark Boerio who owns the Army and Navy Store at 800 Ligonier St., here in Latrobe and he said, “I am selling a lot of them.” When asked about the general consensus concerning these weapons, he said, “A lot of the traditional hunters aren’t happy about it, but the Pennsylvania Game Commission voted to have them.”

Such is the case when I shared the subject with an area archer and got his opinion concerning these weapons. He wishes to remain anonymous, but felt that the traditional bows were far more superb to these new devices.

If ever there was a gut feeling that hunters would be using crossbows this fall, I felt that I wasn’t alone in making this assumption. All one need to do was open to the first few pages of the Pennsylvania Hunting and Trapping Digest, Regulation for July 1, 2009 – June 30, 2010, and full page after full page had ads for these devices.

A matter of fact, in reviewing one such ad found on page 9, for instance, which highlights two different crossbows, the cheapest one is going for as low as $199. I counted four pages in the booklet promoting these weapons. So, I figured, it was just a matter of time when they would be voted in as tool to harvest wildlife.

Penn State Wildlife Biologist Gary San Julian said, “Despite initial resistance from rifle hunters and conventional archers, crossbows may expand participation.” Continuing on, he added, “It may allow those people that just like the idea of using a crossbow, or older hunters that may not have the upper-body strength any longer to do that who still want to hunt in an archery-type situation.”

But I, the hunter that I’m not, question here the statement made by the biological expert concerning the senior citizen. Taken from a website where people entered their opinions concerning crossbows versus rifles from “forums.huntingresource.com,” one contributor stated, “A crossbow has about the same effective range as a 60 or 70 pound compound bow. If you go that route be absolutely sure you get one with a cranking device built in or if not get an external crank. If you try to load a 150 pound draw crossbow, you could put more pressure on your shoulder certainly more than a 30-06 would do. Imagine lifting 150 pounds from your knees to your waist. That is about what it takes to load a crossbow.”

Various other opinions were expressed over this website.

A gent by name of Jeremiah commented, “Your effective killing range with a crossbow is no greater than with a typical compound bow. You might as well think of it as a horizontal compound bow that is held for you at full draw and dot even consider the fact that it has a rifle-like stock because that’s where the likenesses end. Personally, I like hunting with ‘archery’ gear to any other. There’s nothing quite like being ‘archery-close’ to the game you pursue.”

And finally, there is this statement from a chap named Leo. He said, “A crossbow is not an arrow gun. Your range is limited, your reload time is slow, it’s bulky to carry and unloading it requires actually firing it.”

So who am I, the fisherman, telling you, the hunter, what path to take in making decisions on what weapons you should be choosing? Is this a new fad of sorts that is taking off, and people of all ages are feeling compelled to try it? Hopefully, retailers will share with me the actual facts – are crossbows here to stay or will hunters dig out the compound or traditional bows and pursue game using those weapons? I guess only time and words of mouth will tell.

.

- Paul J. Volkmann
You can contact me by email