This lifestyle is important to carry on and we should be encouraging new hunters to join us, not tear others down because they hunt differently than you.
If you’re new to hunting you’ve maybe seen a glimpse of the heated debate between hunters about crossbows. If you haven’t, you’re one of the lucky ones. It comes down to a few opinions shared by seemingly many.
It’s the idea that crossbows, which can be used during the archery season in many states are more similar to a gun and should either come in late during the archery season or be restricted in use to firearm seasons.
Hunters who share this opinion believe that crossbows are easier to use because there is a scope and because you don’t have to pull it back in the manner you do with a compound or traditional bow. A crossbow typically has an incredibly higher poundage than a compound, however if you choose not to pull it back with your hands, you can use a tool called a cocking rope which makes it incredibly easier. It will lock into place until you’re ready to pull the trigger and there is actually a safety as well.
This isn’t the end of the debate though, in some states crossbows are only allowed to be used by disabled hunters. Because of that, many bow hunters do not consider hunters who use crossbows to be their equal. Companies, Non-Profits, and brands alike have taken stances as well, even the Pope & Young Club issuing the statement, “...the Pope and Young Club does not consider the crossbow to be a hunting bow and will not accept any trophies collected by crossbow hunters. Further, the Pope and Young Club considers the use of crossbows during bow hunting seasons to be a serious threat to the future of bowhunting.” The hate and judgment in the hunting community on this topic is apparent to even someone who has only been hunting for 3 years, like myself. In my opinion, this is dangerous.
When I bought my compound bow, I also bought a crossbow. When the fall came, I knew I hadn’t given my compound bow the attention and practice that it needed and therefore the respect that the animal I am hunting deserves. Opening day of archery I shot my first buck, a beautiful 8 point. A 15 yard heart shot, he dropped within view and I had successfully harvested my first public land animal. A huge moment for me. Monumental even. Yet, when people asked if I had used a compound bow, I’d reply “No, just my crossbow." I could almost feel the disappointment in some people’s reactions.
When I say that the hate is dangerous I think it presents a problem in a couple different areas:
Yes, I think the crossbow is easier to use than a compound bow, it’s exactly why I used a crossbow when I knew I wasn’t ready to take my compound bow into the woods.
For this exact reason, I think it’s such a good way to get rookie hunters into the outdoors! Guns can be intimidating if you didn’t grow up with them and crossbows are a great alternative. It’s kind of upsetting knowing there might be some people out there who haven’t gotten into hunting because they’ve seen the negativity surrounding crossbows.
Or frightening knowing there are new hunters out there rushing to use a compound bow that could potentially wound an animal and not find them because they refuse to use a crossbow.
And although I do think it is easier to use a crossbow than a compound bow, I think most anti-crossbow thinkers are ignoring a huge similarity between the two which is the effective hunting range. Most hunters I know using a compound bow would stay under 40-60 yards max (all dependent on the hunter and their confidence in their abilities), I know my comfortable max would be 35 yards and everything about the situation would have to be perfect including lighting and wind. But I would say most modern crossbows have an effective hunting range of 50-60 yards, which isn’t far off. You also can’t shoot through the same obstacles with either bows like you would be able to with a firearm.
Even more so I think as hunters we are already fighting a negative PR image. This matters because we already have anti-hunters fighting this kind of lifestyle. We don’t need hunters pitted against other hunters. The negativity and judgment isn’t something I expected when I started hunting and it could be a huge turn off to prospective hunters. This lifestyle is important to carry on and we should be encouraging new hunters to join us, not tear others down because they hunt differently than you. I think there’s a huge difference in recognizing that although you might not want to participate in something, that doesn’t mean others shouldn’t be allowed to. What works for you might not work for someone else and we all have different preferences.
At the end of the day most of us are here for the same reason. To participate in a lifestyle that enriches your body and mind while contributing to conservation across the country. We shouldn’t be judging the methods that others use if it doesn’t directly affect you. Stop making excuses and hunt harder.