Crossbow hunters need to speak out

Thursday, February 23, 2012
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When former Gov. David Paterson signed the crossbow bill on Sept. 19, 2010, it allowed all hunters, regardless of their physical abilities, to hunt big game with a crossbow for the first time, a milestone to say the least.

But due to a strong lobbying effort by a small but well-organized group of bowhunters, the original bill presented was severely altered before being passed. In short, the new regulation allowed a “temporary” test period, in which big-game-hunting-only was allowed, but only during the state’s firearms season. I don’t know how many hunted with a crossbow last season, nor do I know how many actually harvested deer.

I spent several days during the Northern Zone gun season deer hunting with my TenPoint crossbow, and doing so reminded me of a line Sean Connery used in the movie “The Untouchables”: “It was like bringing a knife to a gun fight.” It was fun, but it was frustrating watching a nice six-pointer standing 69 yards from me looking over its shoulder in the direction of several rifle shots.

It’s definitely a different at­mosphere than hunting during the quiet bow season. But this same TenPoint in the hands of a persistent 77-year-old friend, Dante Ronca of Schenectady, who spent six days in a tree stand, shot a nice, healthy 10-point buck.

This “generous” crossbow hunting season will end, unless the legislature and Gov. Andrew Cuomo decide to extend it by Dec. 31. So once again, the battle with this bowhunting organization will begin. But apparently, those of us who are in favor of a crossbow season where we do not have to compete with gun hunters have a bit of hope.

According to a friend and fellow outdoor writer, Dave Henderson of Endicott, the New York Bowhunters has put out an alert to its members to head off any changes to increase crossbow hunting opportunities in New York.

I found it extremely encouraging that in the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s “Management Plan For White-Tail Deer In New York State 2011-2016” that, “DEC supports the use of crossbows for hunting during all seasons in which other bowhunting equipment is allowed” and “The crossbow hunting law enacted in 2010 does not address deer management needs, nor is it consistent with hunter preferences.”

It goes on to say that the majority of New York deer hunters (including a majority of bowhunters) support legalization of crossbows, particularly for seniors (68 percent) and hunters with disabilities (78 percent), but also all hunters during seasons when other bowhunting equipment is allowed. And lastly, DEC recommends that elig­ibility to hunt with a crossbow be the same as eligibility to hunt with a vertical bow.

WHAT TO DO

To continue this effort to stabilize and promote and hopefully finalize a more equitable crossbow hunting season requires the efforts of all those who hunt with a bow and/or gun. It’s your woods, too, so make your feelings known.

To help make your voice heard, a New York Crossbow Coalition has been organized. It’s an active grassroots group on Facebook dedicated to removing the negative stigma surrounding the modern crossbow. Click here and voice your support. Those who don’t wish to use Facebook can write their opinions and send them to their legislative representatives. Let the true hunting community be heard this time, not just that same small, loud group.

Last week, I received a response to the pro comments on crossbow hunting that I posted on the New York Crossbow Coalition Facebook site. This gentleman, who said he found a crossbow arrow on his private property, said that crossbows make it easier for poachers, and that crossbows are for people who do not know how to bow hunt. This is just one of the ridiculous statements that continue to be made by the anti-crossbow hunting community.

One of the most common fal­lacies those against crossbow hunting are using is the superiority of a crossbow to today’s modern compound bow.

I recently viewed a four-minute, 33-second YouTube presentation by Mark Kearly of Hick’s Outdoors in Clio, Mich., that showed an ac­curate performance comparison of a modern compound bow and crossbow. The compound was a PSE Omen with a 30-inch draw length and 65-pound draw weight. The crossbow was a TenPoint Laser HP with a 185-pound draw weight. Both the bow and crossbow arrows weighed 441 grains. The test shots were fired at archery targets set at 20, 30, 40 and 50 yards, and would determine the drop of each arrow at the different ranges and finally the maximum speed of each arrow. On the surface, you would think that since the crossbow’s draw weight is almost three times the compound’s, it would produce a better trajectory and more speed. Here are the “real” results.

At 20 yards, both were right on; at 30, both were six inches low; at 40, the compound 10.25, crossbow 15.25; and at 50 yards, the compound was 22.75 inches low, the crossbow 24.75. As for the speed, the compound velocity was 298 feet per second, the crossbow, 297. If anything, the compound’s ballistics are better.

Just for the record, I watched an experienced archer at the Kayderosseras Rod and Gun Club’s weekend archery shooting competition place three arrows in the kill zone area of a 3-D whitetail deer target at 100 yards.

Today’s modern compound bows are not what I would call traditional. And I know, because I’ve been an avid bowhunter who owns a new PSE. If you’re interested in a true demonstration comparing the two, click here to watch this YouTube film clip.

An old friend of mine once said that the hunting community is a “sleeping giant.” Let’s hear what this sleeping giant has to say about crossbow hunting in New York state. Join the New York Crossbow Coalition, and be heard.

 

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