Crossbow hunting is a well liked sport in Colorado, where wildlife is plentiful and hunting rules are not as strict as they are in some places. Crossbow hunting is one of many hunting styles. Other styles are: spotting and stalking, shooting from trees, muzzle-loaded shooting and shooting from ground blinds. Crossbow hunting regulations differ from general firearms regulations and licensing.
There was a time when crossbows were used as a battle weapon, but now crossbows make for popular hunting arms. Firing a crossbow requires skill, enhancing its role in sport hunting. While there are specific archery seasons for hunting, the enthusiasm over crossbow hunting is such that separate hunting seasons for crossbow hunters had to be designated.
Regulations in Colorado
There are two different hunting seasons for safety purposes--the gun season and the bow season. In Colorado, crossbow hunting is legal for all hunters during the gun season. It also is legal for disabled hunters during archery season. Crossbow hunters must hunting licenses and permits.
Game Categories in Colorado
For regulatory purposes, wild game animals have been divided into several categories for crossbow hunting: Big game include white tailed deer, elk, moose, sheep, reindeer and bear. Small game consists of squirrels and rabbits. Apart from these, there are the fur-bearers, such mink and red fox; predators, like coyotes and cougars; upland game birds, including quail, pheasants and doves; and, finally, waterfowl--ducks and geese.
Big game and predator hunting is considered dangerous and therefore left to the more seasoned hunters. For crossbow hunting for big game you need a tag for each harvested animal. You buy the tags along with your hunting license. The Colorado Division of Wildlife determines the number of tags given to each individual. For smaller wild game, there is a possession limit or a bag limit, also decided by the Division of Wildlife.
To hunt unprotected species like vermin and varmints, Colorado has no specific regulations. However, for protected species, crossbow hunting regulations may change according to the census of animals. Check the regulations before heading to a hunting lodge. Note, too, that you may have to have formal crossbow training before being permitted to hunt with a crossbow.