New bill would expand crossbow use in deer hunting
Frederica Freyberg explores a bill from State Rep. Mary Czaja that expands crossbow use.
Back in Wisconsin, a long simmering hunting controversy made its way to the Capitol this week. A bill authored by Republican Representative Mary Czaja of Irma would make it legal to hunt with a crossbow.
Currently, only hunters aged 65 and older or those with a doctor's certified disability can use a crossbow during the fall deer archery season, because crossbows don’t require as much strength to load and fire. There are 250,000 bow hunters in Wisconsin, and most have long opposed allowing crossbows saying, they are too powerful and accurate, and will kill too many deer. Supporters of the measure say allowing crossbows will increase the number of youth and female hunters.
The crossbow’s a great entrance for youth to hunting. The statistics from Ohio say that from about age 12 to about age 19 youth will predominantly like to use a crossbow to start out with. In that time period as they age and get older, they tend to switch back to traditional bows, either compound, recurves or long bows. And around age 40, switch back again to the crossbow.
This compromised legislation would create a separate crossbow license and season that would run at the same time as the archery season. But some bow hunters want to make sure if crossbow hunters kill too many deer, the bow hunting season isn’t cut short as a result.
If the crossbow hunters increase the percent success harvest over the gun hunters and the archers, there is going to be a call to cut back the season. If they're tied together, the bow hunters are out of luck. If they– if the one word is changed and they can be regulated separately, the bow hunter's success can be measured as it will be and regulated as it is, but the crossbow hunter's success would dictate how that season should be structured so that everyone, all of the hunters, get a fair proportion of the harvest.
Now in order to become law in time for archery deer season which opens September 14, Representative Czaja’s bill must be passed by the Assembly and Senate in June, and be signed by Governor Scott Walker this summer.