Brad Jerman asked if I would like a different perspective on the crossbow debate, from a hunter who had started out with the Xbow, gone to the compound and then onto the recurve. “I hunt with all of them now, but my first love is still the crossbow,” wrote Brad. I told him to blog on, and he sent this:
I have kept an eye on the recent crossbow debate/poll on the ZONE and Outdoor Life’s web site. It has spawned a good discussion.
The debate is nothing new. There are always a few folks that believe their hunting methods are more right or pure than somebody else’s. That culture bleeds over into political law and ultimately damages our sport, I believe.
The crossbow has been the whipping boy of archery since the middle ages, and it continues to be a very emotional subject. I believe the problem revolves around general misinformation and the failure of some people to recognize a cultural shift that validates the crossbow’s use.
The debate took on new meaning for me a few years back when I was blessed with a tremendous buck that is the current World Record Crossbow Typical (201 1/8 net). Having one of the largest 5x5s of all time has given me the privilege to show the deer at sports shows and faith-based outdoorsmen’s banquets across the country.
I come in contact with many terrific people, all of whom are interested in the wonderfully addictive sport of deer hunting. I do hear some pretty remarkable things, however, regarding the crossbow. It is clear that many people do not understand the crossbow’s relationship to other archery equipment. It is also clear that many people simply restate falsehoods they have heard from others.
Recently I was discussing the crossbow with an accomplished hunter who is a senior member of Pope & Young. I stated my opinion and he stated his. He felt the crossbow is not archery equipment and that was that. When I asked him on what he based his opinion, he admitted he had never shot or even handled a crossbow. That doesn’t strike me as a very informed or objective position.
There are certainly some advantages to the crossbow. It is easier to become proficient with; allows the use of a rest while shooting; and does not require the strength needed to pull or hold a bow. Also, with the crossbow, you don’t have to make the big move to draw a bow in the presence of a buck. Beyond those things, the differences quickly fade.
With any bow, success depends on scent control, concealment, stand placement and other tactics that create a close encounter with a whitetail. The year following my crossbow giant, I shot this nice buck with my recurve. Both deer were within 20 yards, and both provided me the same satisfaction and freezer supply.
Bowhunting is not about what kind of bow you use. It is about having the skill to get your quarry within 40 yards and then delivering a broadhead-tipped arrow to its target.
The crossbow has another advantage: recruitment and retention of hunters. In 1982 the nation had about 17 million hunters…in 2004 the number was down to 15 million…today approximately 12 million deer hunters. It is time we take action to stabilize and reverse this trend. Sheer numbers are the only way we can fend off legislative attacks from anti-hunting activists. The crossbow has a significant role to play in this effort.
Existing hunters that have grown older, sustained an injury or have a physical ailment that won’t allow them to use a vertical bow any longer can naturally migrate to a crossbow if it is allowed in their state. If relaxed crossbow use is pro-actively legislated, I believe it can be the single most effective tool to recruit and retain hunters.
As mentioned, as compared to a vertical bow, the crossbow allows a hunter to become a more proficient shooter sooner. I believe this increases the chance for an ethical kill. Another key to keeping new hunters engaged is not having a deer suffer at his or her hand. If the learning curve is too overwhelming, we are losing folks before they ever start.
One more thought: As a hunter grows in stature and experience with one bow, he may want to try other types of equipment as I have, just for the fun and challenge.
The crossbow debate must rage on. Emotions will continue to run rampant. Established beliefs will be challenged and eventually changed or become irrelevant. In the end I truly believe the crossbow will be permitted throughout archery season in every state.
I just hope there is an archery season left for all our bows to be a part of.
The Jerman Buck
World Record Crossbow Typical
10 all time B&C Typical
Click here for more on the Jerman Buck.