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The laws concerning the use of crossbows in hunting varies from a complete ban in Oregon to Georgia's allowance of crossbows during any season. The main difference is that some states permit crossbow use during archery season while some restrict it to firearms season. Although some states do not permit crossbow hunting, almost all have made an exception for those with a verifiable disability that prevents them from using a bow and arrow.
These states require a special permit for a hunter to use a crossbow during archery season: Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. The permit varies from state to state, but generally requires medical proof that the hunter is unable to effectively or comfortably hunt with a bow and arrow.
These states permit the use of crossbows during archery season: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Wyoming.
These states allow crossbow hunting during firearms season: California, Colorado, Delaware, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, and New Hampshire. Crossbows do not fall under the category of archery equipment in these states, and cannot be used until the opening of gun season.
Illinois, Maryland, and Michigan have specific age requirements for using a crossbow. In Illinois, hunters 62 years and older may obtain a permit to hunt with a crossbow. Maryland permits hunters who are at least 65 years old to hunt during archery season. Michigan permits all hunters to use crossbows during firearms seasons, but restricts crossbow use in deer archery season to hunters at least 50 years old.
Alaska has bow-only areas where crossbow use is not permitted. It is permitted in any of the state’s bow and gun areas. The state of Florida has four hunting zones. The regulations for hunting with crossbows vary with zone, game, and season.
Indiana allows for the use of crossbows when hunting only during the late archery season. Also, no deer with antlers may be hunted.
- Men crossbow shooting image by Igor Zhorov from Fotolia.com