After many years of heated debate, New York’s hunters will now be able to hunt small game with crossbows, as well as big game during firearms season.
The new law, signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, placed language in the state budget that now gives the New York Department of Environmental Conservation the authority to develop regulations governing crossbow use in New York.
The New York crossbow bill will allow crossbow use in the last 14 days of the Southern Zone archery deer and bear seasons and the final 10 days of the Northern Zone archery deer and bear seasons.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation has not officially set the 2014 archery season for the Southern Zone, but the 2013 season was Oct. 1 (a Tuesday) through Nov. 14 (a Thursday). The traditional firearms season for deer and bear began Saturday, Nov. 16.
Under the new window for crossbow use during the archery season, crossbows would have been legal for use beginning Friday, Nov. 1.
Hunters who use conventional bows and arrows had lobbied to keep the more powerful crossbows at bay to preserve what they saw as the purity of their sport. They have argued that crossbows have more range, can be steadied on shooting rests—more like a rifle or shotgun—and most crossbows are fitted with modern optical sights.
Crossbow proponents have shown proof that horizontal bows are no more accurate at short or long range than their vertical counterparts. Also, they have argued that a shooting rest simply ensures accurate shot placement, which means fewer misses and fewer wounded, lost animals.
In addition, many compound bows are also fitted with illuminated scope-type sights. Finally, crossbows are heavier, more cumbersome and much slower to reload than conventional recurve or compound bows.
Sen. Patrick Gallivan of western New York, who successfully pushed through the crossbow-hunting law after a number of previous failed attempts, said hundreds of thousands of hunters from 40 different organizations supported the measure. He said it will bring in an estimated $1 million in license revenue and help the state manage the deer population.
He also said it will encourage more young, female, disabled and older hunters into the woods, folks who may not have the upper body strength to pull back a compound bow.
Crossbows have been legal for use during deer archery seasons in many other states including Pennsylvania, Ohio, Georgia, New Jersey and southern Ontario, Canada, for several years with no increase in accidents, poaching or unmanageable fluctuations in big-game harvests.
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