Crossbow a challenge for hunters

When I started deer hunting in the early 1960s, it was unlawful to hunt deer with a crossbow or to even be afield with this type of a weapon. The most common bow at this time was the long bow. The recurve soon came along, and the compound bow came on strong in the mid 1970s.

It was in the late 1970s when big game bow hunting became popular with West Virginia hunters. In the 1990s, I can remember reading in one of the big game bulletins where one of the state wildlife management areas had more deer taken with a bow than with a firearm.

It was in 2015 when the state legislature took action to legalize crossbows during the big game hunting seasons. They also instructed the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources to establish a separate crossbow hunting season and identify what game species could be taken during a crossbow hunting season.

The efforts to legalize crossbows for hunting in West Virginia were nothing new. For several years, this idea was brought up during the yearly legislative session and met with high resistance.

When crossbow hunting became legal in 2015, one large outdoor retailer reported there had been a 600 percent increase in the sale of crossbows as compared to the year before. From what I have seen at various sporting goods stores, they are affordable, and many state bow hunters are eager to take up the challenge of hunting with this type of weapon. Yet the vast majority of West Virginia hunters have never held one in their hands. This includes me.

In 2016 during the deer bow/crossbow season, hunters took a total of 26,524 deer. This includes all of the urban archery hunts. Crossbow hunters took 12,044 deer, or 45 percent of these deer.

Drawing a crossbow back has some difficulties. Some people may be able to complete this task by themselves, and others will have to use some sort of mechanical assistance. Like any type of hunting equipment, there are precautions. The crossbow hunter needs to be aware of all the dangers that go along with any other type of weapon that is commonly used for hunting.

The crossbow is a weapon that many look upon as being half-bow and half-gun. For many years, it has been regarded as being the most powerful mechanical weapon ever made.

When this new law took effect in 2015, Sgt. Michael Coberly of the the WVDNR Resources Police said, “The new law has opened it up so that anyone can participate with a crossbow. It’s a brand new change for this year for hunters.”

Mike and I have known each other for several years, because the two of us are members of the Mountaineer Chapter of the Izaak Walton League.

Any time we get to talk to each other, we seem to see eye-to-eye on several issues involving guns, sport hunting and now crossbows.

I seriously doubt if I will take up crossbow hunting or any type of bow hunting in the near future. During the early part of the hunting season, I still enjoy going after the bushy-tails just like I did when I started squirrel hunting in 1955.

•••

The American people are once again in a state of shock, because of another massive high school shooting in Florida. From the latest news report, I have observed 17 are dead and 14 critically wounded.

Our biased news media, along with the gun-control fanatics in Washington, D.C., are wasting absolutely no time to use this atrocity to promote their gun-control agenda. They are starting out by blaming all law-abiding gun owners, the National Rifle Association, its 4.5 million members and the members of Congress who are strong supporters of Second Amendment rights as the leading causes of this bloody tragedy.

The individual that law enforcement has in custody is still innocent until proven guilty and is entitled to a fair trial, despite how many of us may feel. If proven guilty, justice needs to be certain and swift. Let’s all hope the prosecution can do its job correctly and well in this case.

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