The intent of this article is not to be controversial or inflammatory but to share thoughts, observations, opinions, and experiences I personally have or have experienced in the age old discussion and debate in the archery arena of crossbow hunting.
You find many opinions and statistical data that will try to sway your opinions of crossbow hunting one way or another. I hope this article and my perspective will be enlightening to you in the subject of crossbow hunting.
I’ve been hunting with a traditional bow for the past 15 years. I’ve hunted with crossbow hunters for just as long. Back then in the state of Maryland a permit was required that had to be signed by a physician that confirmed limitations that would enable you to legally hunt with a crossbow.
My first experience hunting with someone who used a crossbow was about 15 years ago. This guy was the stereotypical person that used a crossbow for all the wrong reasons. Although he had a permit for use, he exhibited all the reasons of what I’m sure the crossbow was not intended for. He could hang tree stands with the best of them. He was more physically fit that me. He bragged about the extremely long shots he took. His respect for the deer he was hunting was equated to the price of the arrow and broad head he was using. I could go on and on but what was apparent to me was his unethical hunting practices and not the crossbow he was using.
Regulations were passed a few years ago enabling hunting with a crossbow in Maryland without a permit. It was on a limited basis for a few weeks throughout the archery season. I decided to buy a crossbow for my son, who was 9 at the time. This would provide him the opportunity to spend more time actually hunting rather than just going hunting with dad. He was excited, we spent many hours practicing. We went hunting multiple times with limited success. Getting a 9 year old to remain motionless for any amount of time limited our crossbow hunting to a blind. After the first year hunting with his crossbow his passion disappeared as fast as it arrived.
The following year I tried my hand using the crossbow during one of the weeks established by the state of Maryland. I was fortunate enough to get a shot at and bag an 8 point Pope & Young Buck. I learned something about myself that day that I never anticipated. When I shot the buck with my crossbow I did not feel the same emotion, exhilaration, or sense of accomplishment I had with the many deer I shot in the past with my traditional bow. With that experience and my son no longer desiring to hunt with a crossbow I decided to sell it.
Last year the state of Maryland opened the use of crossbows for the entire bow hunting season. This was a significant event that propelled bow hunting opportunities and sporting good business to an unseen level. I would expect the numbers of deer taken during the bow season to sky rocket as well as the money being spent to outfit those joining the crossbow hunting community.
I just recently became a full time crossbow hunter. Until last year my thoughts of hunting with a crossbow would be a number of years down the road, at the age of 48, I’ve been enjoying hunting with my compound bow for quite some time. Mentally I’d gone back and forth, as to whether when the day came that I could no longer hunt with a compound, would I hunt with a crossbow or just revert to my other passion of hunting with a video camera. That decision came to me sooner than I had expected.
In August of last year I came down with encephalitis, an acute inflammation of the brain caused by a tick born virus and a mosquito born bacteria at the same time in which I was sedated for two months after which I endured two months of physical and psychological rehabilitation. Not only was I fortunate to survive, I’ve been fortunate enough to continue my hunting life style.
After practicing many months with my compound and not being able to achieve the accuracy and confidence I needed to hunt, I did some research on the side effects of my illness and found out that balance and stability are long term side effects that may not ever go away. Being in the middle of the rut and having a bow hunt scheduled for Illinois later in November I had some decisions to make very quickly. After a few days of thinking it over, I committed to hunting with a crossbow, while keeping my compound should these side effects go away. Out of respect for the deer I would be hunting and the outfitter in Illinois, I pulled the plug on the hunt although a bit costly, it was the right thing to do. This experience has brought me to where I am today with my current opinions of crossbow hunting and the path ahead.
In closing I want to leave you with these thoughts. Were there discussions and heated debates when the compound bow was invented? probably so, with all the Long and Recurve bow enthusiast there's not doubt. I’m sure some of those continue today. What is important to remember and in the grand scheme of things, we are all in the sporting and outdoor community together and any infighting that exceeds the boundaries of good discussion and debate will be to the determinate of our passion and create wedges which are welcomed by those who are against us and our way of life.
Whether you hunt with a pistol, rifle, shotgun, long bow, recurve bow, compound bow, or crossbow remember to respect the people, animals, and liberties we are afforded in this great country to ensure it continues on for generations to come.