Are Crossbow Hunters Killing Too Many Bucks?

crossbow for webBack in 2014, I blogged that Wisconsin was the latest major whitetail state to permit the use of the crossbow during the regular archery season. Since then, the crossbow season in the state has run concurrently with the archery season, typically mid-September through December.

One of the original complaints from traditionalists and vertical bowhunters at the time was that crossbow hunters would kill too many bucks. There is no denying that it is easier (and takes less practice) to kill a deer with a crossbow than with a compound or recurve.

Well, 5 years later, with crossbow technology having increased tenfold, turns out those fears might have been warranted.

WKOW in Madison reports that at a recent Wisconsin Natural Resources Board meeting, Director of Wildlife Management Eric Lobner reported that crossbow hunters today are killing a larger share of bucks.

The solution would be to “reduce your crossbow harvest by 5,000 to 6,000 animals.”

Lobner presented options for changing the crossbow season, such as ending the crossbow hunt earlier than bow season, to starting the crossbow season later, and even to banning the use of crossbows on weekends.

Adding another layer to the controversy, complaints are coming from gun hunters as well as vertical bowhunters. Many gun hunters think crossbow hunters are killing too many bucks during the rut and before firearms season opens, lessening their chances.

At the center of the new crossbow debate is advanced technology. The improved power, range and efficiency of the crossbow combined with the long deer season accounts for the higher buck kill in WI.

Two things complicate this discussion even more: 1) the ongoing loss of people hunting and buying licenses these days; and 2) a concern for adding more red tape and confusion to the hunting regulations.

No doubt that expanded crossbow seasons, in WI and other states, have increased hunter participation and retention. If you restrict crossbow use, you will no doubt lose a number of hunters. With hunter numbers down significantly across the U.S., the hunting and conservation world cannot afford this.

Also, WI DNR data show that complicated and confusing game regulations and red tape drive people away and may reduce the number of people buying a hunting license, saying it’s not worth it anymore.

Upcoming public comment periods and hearings on proposed crossbow season changes are sure to be raucous and controversial, with both crossbow proponents and critics pounding their opinions and positions. And you can bet other state DNRs and hunting clubs are watching what happens in Wisconsin.

The new crossbow debate is back in 2019. How do you feel about it?

New York Hunter Mistakes Woman For A Deer, Gets Prison Time

dark woodsI blog this as a reminder to look, think and analyze every situation before we pull the trigger:

From Pennlive.com:

It was a fatal mistake that left a woman walking her dogs dead and a deer hunter facing a prison stretch.

The day before thanksgiving 2017, the hunter mistook the woman for a deer and shot. The hunter heard her screams and ran over to help, but it was too late. Court authorities and investigators said the shot rang out around 5:20 p.m., after legal shooting hours.

The hunter plead guilty last October to criminally negligent homicide and was sentenced to one to three years in state prison, according to Erie News Now.

The victim’s husband said he hopes the tragedy resonates with all hunters:

“From the beginning, I wanted the defendant to take responsibility and be held accountable,” he said. “I want the next hunter who thinks about shooting after hours to think, ‘There was this guy that went to prison. I should just go home.’”

Look, think, and know your target as a deer.

Every afternoon that you hunt, check and confirm the end of legal shooting hours. If it is 30 minutes after sunset in your state, check the official sundown time on your phone. 29 minutes later, unload that rifle and go home.

Saskatchewan Bowhunter Kills World-Record Mule Deer

SK 2018 record muleyOn October 1, 2018, Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation member Dennis Bennett arrowed the deer of a lifetime in the Arm River area of Saskatchewan.

This non-typical mule deer was panel measured by official Henry Kelsey measurers and scored 293 6/8.  It has been declared a Henry Kelsey provincial record, meeting the minimum score of 200, surpassing the previous provincial HK record of 290 taken back in the 1920s. .

Henry Kelsey and Pope & Young both use the Boone & Crockett scoring technique, with the difference being that Henry Kelsey uses the green score, whereas P&Y and B&C require a 60-day drying period.

Pope & Young, which records animals taken by archery only, has declared Bennett’s deer a P&Y world record with a final score of 291 1/8.

Bennett’s non-typical mule deer now joins Milo Hanson’s typical whitetail as another recognized world record from Saskatchewan!

Source: Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation

Mississippi Woman, 101 Years Young, Still Shooting Deer

MS woman 101

Photo Source: Clarion-Ledger

The Clarion-Ledger reports that Bertha Vickers of Morgantown was having a tough season. She’d been seeing deer, but couldn’t close the deal.

But her luck changed a few days after her birthday.

Vickers celebrated turning 101 and was back in her hunting blind, hoping for a chance.

She spotted a small doe. “I decided to wait for a bigger one,” Vickers said. “Before long, a bigger doe came out and I shot.

Read the full story to see what happened next.

Bertha’s grandson skinned the deer, and she helped cut it up.

“When you’re as old as I am, you naturally think each one could be your last one, but I’m going to go as long as I can,” Vickers told the Clarion-Ledger. “I enjoy it. I love being outside.”

Indiana: 180-Inch Homestead Buck

IN ben andrew 2018Thanks to Ben Andrew for sharing his tremendous 2018 buck from central Indiana.

“Sentimental buck right here,” Ben said. “Shot off the homestead where I grew up, and where my dad taught me years ago with a muzzleloader. Place where I got my first buck 25 years ago.

“My father is my lifelong hunting buddy. He’s getting into his middle 70s, and still after it with me. Unfortunately the land around us is up for sale.”

How much longer Ben and his dad have to hunt the home place is unknown. Many of us face similar uncertainties these days, but we have to stay with it and hunt hard while we still can.

Tale of the tape on Ben’s massive buck: 6-inch bases, 20 inches wide, 14 points, 21 inches of mass on each side, and 11-inch brows. Green score lower 180s.

These are my favorite buck stories, bittersweet but straight from the heart. Great buck Ben, best of luck to you and your dad.