State after state has liberalized its crossbow-hunting regulations in recent years, and Wisconsin could be the next domino to fall. Legislation pending in the Badger State would add crossbows for full inclusion in the state's archery seasons. Assembly Bill 194 has already been approved in the state House, and an upcoming hearing in the Senate Natural Resources Committee could pave the way for final approval by the legislature.
The committee hearing is scheduled for Aug. 21, and crossbow supporters - the National Rifle Association among them - are urging like-minded sportsmen to attend the hearing and voice their support. The NRA's Institute for Legislative Action put out a statement on the proposal that says, in part:
"Experience in other states has shown that allowing the unqualified use of crossbows helps retain and recruit hunters. At a time when hunter numbers are declining, nothing is more important. Retention of older hunters with diminished physical capabilities is especially critical. If allowed to use crossbows, these hunters will remain in the field years longer than they otherwise would if restricted to vertical bows only. As a result, they would be more likely to recruit more family and friends into Wisconsin's ranks of hunters. For youngsters who do not yet possess the physical strength to use a vertical bow, crossbows would allow them to go afield earlier and create more lifelong archery hunters."In addition, experience in other states shows that archer success rates do not increase with the use of a crossbow as compared to a vertical bow. The goal of all hunters should be to increase participation because greater hunter numbers in the future will bolster defenses against the political attacks initiated by anti-hunting extremists and ensure the continuation of Wisconsin's hunting heritage."
Of course, if you count yourself among those bowhunters who oppose the inclusion of crossbows in regular archery seasons, then you no doubt have a vastly different perspective on the Wisconsin legislation. If recent history is any indication, however, it is only a matter of time before the ranks of Badger State bowhunters include both those with vertical and horizontal rigs. Some of the "major" hunting states to give crossbows full inclusion in archery seasons in recent years include Indiana, Texas and Pennsylvania. Twenty years ago, only three states allowed crossbows during general archery seasons. As of BOWHUNTING's latest count, crossbows are now legal during all or parts of archery seasons in 27 states and 6 Canadian provinces.
If you are searching for an up-to-date list of North American crossbow-hunting regs, TenPoint Crossbows keeps tabs on the latest developments HERE