There seems to be some confusion regarding the new legislation that allows crossbow use during the upcoming 2011 big game season, and with good reason. I’ve seen very little in print since the governor signed the legislation into law last year.
The reality is it is going to affect few people, unless you’re a purist who would rather hunt with a crossbow during regular season than a high-powered rifle.
In my opinion, it’s not much of a decision.
For those who have not read the law, crossbows are legal this year only during the early bear season, regular firearms seasons, late muzzleloader seasons, and the special firearms season in Suffolk County.
They cannot be used by the elderly or handicapped, cannot be used during any bow seasons or in any archery only areas and cannot be used during the muzzleloader season in the northern zone.
They can only be used to hunt deer or bear, and cannot be used during any small game seasons or to hunt turkey.
To possess a crossbow to hunt deer or bear, all you need to do is read a short form about the rules and legal requirements, sign a business-card-size certificate and carry it with you with your big game license. You can print out the form online at www.dec.ny.gov/docs/wildlife_pdf/crossbowform.pdf.
That’s it — no special crossbow education class to sit through and no extra fee to pay for a separate license.
While the new crossbow legislation does crack the door to crossbow use in the Empire State, it is painfully obvious that there are plenty of special interest groups still holding the door securely shut on the other side.
The fact that the law doesn’t even allow the elderly or handicapped to use crossbows during bow season — something that is nearly universally supported by all user groups — is evidence of that.
John Gereau is managing editor of Denton Publications and an avid outdoorsman. His column appears regularly. He can be reached at email@example.com