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Energy & Environment

New Crossbow Licenses Already Popular Among Deer Hunters

Michele Woodford
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

More deer hunters will be able to shoot with a crossbow this deer season.  In fact, the licenses are available to any qualified hunter. 

Until now, only disabled hunters were eligible to shoot with a crossbow.

DNR Warden Supervisor Dave Walz in Woodruff says Walz says some groups opposed expanding the crossbow hunt, fearing it made things too easy compared to a traditional bow and arrow. 

“You know with a crossbow your aim is a little easier. You probably don’t have to do as much practicing out there as you do with a traditional bow or crossbow. Basically you don’t have to pull the string back and hold it.”

But the law changed last year with strong support from the legislature, and takes effect this hunting season. 

More than 5000 people have already applied for the ability to hunt with a crossbow.

The season will run concurrent with the regular archery season. And thanks to a rule that dates back to 2012, during the gun season a gun deer license also allows you use a crossbow or other kind of bow instead.

“That’s a newer law that came about, and it’s been termed the lesser weapon law. Because bows and crossbows are seen as a lesser weapon than a firearm is.”

The license for crossbow hunting is separate from the regular archer license…though hunters can switch from one to the other for a small fee. 

Having both kinds of bow licenses doesn’t allow you to take more deer however – a bow hunter gets one set of tags, for shooting a buck and a Farmland Zone antlerless tag. 

A note for those disabled hunters who previously were allowed to hunt with a crossbow using just an archer license…you’ll now need to register for the separate crossbow license. 

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