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Crossbow enthusiasts can head to the woods

Thursday, April 10, 2014
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Those of us who have been sitting on our crossbows for over a year can take them to the range and get them ready — there will be a crossbow season.

It is not exactly what I wanted, but it’s definitely a milestone and a good start. There were changes to the version that appeared in the state budget. We expected legislative “give and take” things to happen before the final vote, but we'll be in the deer/bear woods during the archery season. Our time in isn’t as long as the regular bowhunters. Here’s what we got.

Crossbow hunting for deer/bear in the Northern Zone will be allowed the last 10 days of the archery season and the last two weeks of the Southern Zone archery season. Crossbows can also be used to hunt turkeys and small game during their seasons.

The only exception is that you cannot hunt with a crossbow either on Long Island or in Westchester County.

What really surprised me, and I know from the phone calls and email I’ve received, that those who hunted previously with bows and who, like me, cannot draw and hold a regular compound bow, aren’t allowed to use the crossbow during the entire regular bow seasons.

If you're disabled and want to take advantage of the nice weather Oct. 1, the beginning of archery season, you’ll have to get a Modified Archery Permit and get a mechanical draw-holding device for a regular compound bow. This Lock-A-Draw system costs almost $200. Even when using this system, you still have to cock it with your hands and feet, using leg and back muscles. Looks like I’ll be headed back to Pennsylvania with my crossbow Oct. 5 for the opening of their archery season.

Pennsylvania isn’t the only neighboring state that allows crossbows during its archery season. New Jersey and Connecticut do, and Vermont and Massachusetts allow the disabled to use crossbows. There are actually at least 20 states that allow crossbows during all their hunting seasons.

I believe New York is the only state that doesn’t allow the disabled and seniors to use crossbows during the archery season. I also checked the websites of the New Jersey Bowhunters and found no objections against crossbow hunting and the same on the Massachusetts Bowhunter site. Massachusetts Bowhunters have now developed a Big Game Awards program for disabled crossbow hunters. It would be nice if our state organization did that.

Now all we have to do is wait for the Department of Environmental Conservation to write the new regulations and put it out for public review and comment before it becomes a final regulation. I believe that to hunt with a crossbow, hunters must be 14 or older and have completed the hunter or archery certification class.

The minimum distance from a dwelling that a shot from a bow can be taken without the owner’s permission will now go from 500 feet to 150 feet for archers and 250 feet for crossbow hunters.

I contacted three local archery shops in the area to see what their customers reactions were to this addition of a legitimate crossbow season. Here are their responses.

Brown’s Archery in Schen­ectady said that there’s def­initely an interest, and he has already sold two crossbows. (www.brownarcheryshopny.-com).

Saratoga Tackle and Archery has had similar results, and they’ve noticed there are more hunters checking out different models and their prices. (www.saratogatackle.com).

Douglas Archery in Galway (882-9731) also has seen an increase in interest, and believes it will continue or increase when the final regulations are issued.

It’s a well-earned victory and we now at least have taken our rightful place in the archery hunting community, but positive change still needs to be done for seniors and those with disabilities.

In the addition to the crossbow legalization issue, there were several other sportsman items that were funded. Our fish hatcheries, in serious need of repairs, will get $4 million that will also include the purchase of 16 new fish stocking trucks. Fishing license fees have also been reduced for non-residents; we'll get eight instead of two free fishing days, and DEC will be allowed to offer $10 days of promotional prices for hunting, fishing and trapping licenses. Another $6 million has been allotted for 50 new access projects covering 380,000 acres for fishing, hunting, bird watching, canoeing and hiking.

For boating and fishing, there are six upgrades to the launch sites, including Forge Pond, Mohawk River (Schenectady), Great Sacandaga Lake (Saratoga County), lower Saranac Lake, Round Lake (Saratoga County) and Greene Lake.

Buying and Shooting a Crossbow

I’m sure there are going to be quite a few new crossbow hunters in the deer woods this fall, and I highly recommend purchasing one now. It will provide plenty of time to get ready, not to mention have a lot of fun. Those who buy one soon, depending on when the crossbow regulations are final, might even be able to try it out in the turkey woods.

Choosing a crossbow can be a bit confusing, but there are a few things buyers should know. To begin with, I highly recommend visiting one or all of the archery shops I mentioned above and learn what’s out there. When at these shops, you'll probably not only learn all about the crossbow, but also get to shoot one. I guarantee you when you shoulder one of these horizontal bows, place the crosshair on the target and squeeze that trigger and see it in the 10 ring of the target, you’ll be hooked.

How much draw weight do you need? Draw weight determines the speed of the arrow and for deer/bear, I would not go below 150 pounds. My TenPoint Stealth SS has a draw weight of 185 pounds and depending upon the weight of the arrow, it will attain speeds of 302-352 feet per second, with kinetic energy of 102 foot pounds.

Cocking is another very important choice that must be made. If you use your hands and put your foot in the cocking stirrup on a 150-pound draw weight crossbow, you are basically dead-lifting 150 pounds. A rope cocking device will cut that to 75. I recommend investing in a crank-cocking device. My TenPoint has an integrated, in-the-butt stock, ACUdraw cranking system that reduces the draw weight to about five pounds. I can actually crank up my crossbow while sitting in my treestand.

Good luck and enjoy our new crossbow season, and when you connect with a tom, deer or any other legal game animal, drop me an email and I’ll include it in Crossbow Tales.

 
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