Wisconsin’s First Crossbow Season To Begin

In the past, only hunters age 65 or older, and those with permits due to disabilities, could hunt in Wisconsin with a crossbow during an open archery season. Beginning this September, anyone who is eligible to bowhunt can carry a crossbow.

Regardless of where you stand on the sometimes controversial topic of crossbows, you can add one more state to the growing list of crossbow-friendly destinations. And from my perspective, that’s a good thing.

Before you send me hate mail calling me a high-tech maniac with no sense of bowhunting traditions, let me point out that learned to shoot instinctive (no sights) with a 50-pound-draw Bear recurve about 40 years ago. And this fall you’ll find me in the field with either a custom-made Robertson Stykbow (take-down recurve; no sights), an old-school Hoyt wheel compound (fingers only; with bowsights), or a modern Mathews solocam compound or a twin-cam BowTech/Cabela’s compound (both shot with release only; fiber-optic bowsights). Shooting each bow type accurately requires a different skill set, and I enjoy practicing and hunting with all of them.

I remember the time when all of the recurve and longbow shooters screamed bloody murder when compounds hit the market. “It’s too easy,” they said. And they offered this prediction: “Compound hunters will decimate the whitetail population!”

But it never happened.

Today, many compound shooters cry foul on crossbows—simply rewind the argument above. Perhaps I’ll be lucky enough to live long enough to see the day when crossbow shooters complain when some yet-to-be-invented arrow-propelling device appears on the scene.

Getting back to Wisconsin: What I really like about the way the WI DNR is handling this upcoming season is hunters may also purchase a crossbow/archer upgrade in addition to a single crossbow or archery license. This $3 upgrade will allow sportsmen to hunt with both a bow and crossbow, but will not include an extra set of tags. Nice!

Click here to learn more about Wisconsin’s regulations and upcoming hunting seasons.

P.S. The photo at the top of this page shows my son, Elliott, with his first buck, taken in Wisconsin during the 2013 regular firearms deer season. In the past, Wisconsin, like many states, allowed anyone who possessed a firearms tag to use a crossbow instead. The photo below shows my buddy Jake and his dad, North American Fisherman Editor-in-Chief Kurt Beckstrom, with two deer Jake tagged with his crossbow while hunting with me in Wisconsin several years ago. Jake is paralyzed from the chest down and has a special permit for using a crossbow. Although this rule change doesn’t affect Jake, I know firsthand that he’s happy anyone can now hunt with a crossbow in Wisconsin during archery/crossbow season.