Outdoor Journal: Crossbow bill won’t get out of Assembly

I’ve been avoiding writing anything about the crossbow bill being strangled, or should I say, hidden

I’ve been avoiding writing anything about the crossbow bill being strangled, or should I say, hidden in the Environmental Committee.

It insures those of us, and there are thousands, who were looking forward to getting some type of reasonable crossbow hunting season won’t get one.

The prior “teaser bill” let us hunt during the firearms season. Some of us did.

My first trip to the New York state deer woods with a crossbow was on opening day of the Northern Zone in Fort Ann. I was watching and ranging a nice six-pointer making its way through the brush and hardwood headed for me. I was more excited with every step he took, and at 75 yards, I remember saying to myself, “If I had my .308, he’d be on the ground now.”

It was too far and too much brush for the crossbow, so I waited. At about 50 yards, all I could see was his head, and then I heard a loud crack, and down he went. A gun hunter, who did nothing wrong and obviously didn’t know I was there, dropped him.

There’s no way that my TenPoint crossbow that delivers an arrow at 340 feet per second can compete with a 150-grain bullet that leaves the barrel of a rifle at 2,000-plus feet per second. It’s a joke, and those who promoted it had to know that. Crossbow hunters belong in the deer woods Oct. 1 with the bowhunters.

I’m not saying all bowhunters, of which I am one, are against it. I am referring to the group/organization that has been fighting to keep crossbows out of the woods.

It’s the same selfish group that didn’t want to let the new youth hunters have their three-day Columbus Day gun deer hunt during the bow season. A mere three days of their bowhunting season, a season which adds up to 36 days in the Northern Zone and 56 days in Southern Zone.

Fortunately, Gov. Andrew Cuomo listened to all the hunters and made sure the Columbus weekend three-day deer gun hunt happened, and will happen from now on. But he definitely dropped the ball on this year’s crossbow issue.

Before I tell you what happened, let me tell you a little about the bill, S1699. Most importantly, the bill would have allowed the Department of Environmental Conser­vation to promulgate standards to allow a legalized crossbow hunting season. It would make the crossbow a legal hunting implement.

The bill also made reference to several other states — Georgia, Michigan and Ohio — that allow crossbow hunting, and found that the crossbow appears to be an important recruitment and retention tool for hunters.

Also, these states said that the use of crossbows hasn’t resulted in a decrease in bag-limits, nor has poaching increased. There are 19 states that allow crossbow hunting during the regular bow season, two of which are neighboring states of New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

The bill continues to say that where crossbow hunting is permitted, there is documented proof that it’s a safe, responsible and popular means of hunting, and has no ill effect on wildlife resources or any other groups of sportsmen. Most importantly, crossbow hunting will create hunting opportunities for people with disabilities who cannot use a compound bow or longbow.

I think all of us who are pro-crossbow hunting owe Rick McDermott of Albion, founder of the New York Crossbow Coalition, a “thank you” for his tireless efforts traveling to Albany to speak with legislators and tell the truth about crossbows.

During his crusades, he’s testified before the Environmental Conservation Committee and all those interested in crossbow hunting. Ironically, Rick does not hunt with a crossbow, but he does it because he believes the sportsmen/women of this state have to right to do so.

There are two very important things that the Senate obviously considered when it approved the bill that was obviously overlooked/ignored by Assembly chairman Robert Sweeney, D-Babylon.

One is the survey that the Crossbow Coalition is running on its web site (www.nycrossbowcoal­ition.com) which reveals that 90 percent voted that crossbows be allowed during the archery season. And equally impressive are the organizations that support the coalition. This is a “who’s who” in the hunting/conservation organ­izations in New York, including the state’s Conservation Council, Farm Bureau, Sportsman Advisory Council, Conservation Alliance, Shooting Sports, Deer and Elk Association, Advanced Strategies Adventure, Wilson Conservation Club, Rifle and Pistol Association. Nationally, it includes Safari Club International, National Wild Turkey Federation and dozens more statewide and county conservation/hunter organizations. This adds up to thousands of supporters. So my question now is, how did this happen? How possibly could this many people and their opinion be ignored. My guess is “politics.” What else could it be?

On June 12, 2013, the Senate approved the crossbow bill with 49 ayes and 12 nays, then it went to the Assembly, where it died in the Environmental Conservation Committee. How and why did it happen?

I believe there was never a vote. and that the committee chairman, Sweeney, had no intention of sending it to a floor vote.

What I would like to know is why he’s so opposed to crossbow hunting. I guess he doesn’t have to say why. I didn’t realize just one person in the legislature was that powerful.

those opposed missing

A forum on crossbows was held May 22 at the state Capitol, where, for several hours, anyone wishing to speak for or against crossbow hunting in New York would be heard. There were 13 that spoke at this forum, and ALL were pro-crossbow. Where was that group of New York Bowhunters whose web site plainly states that they “are opposed to any weapon, other than those bows drawn, held and released by hand in any archery season or archery season-only area?”

Their website also says that the DEC/Cornell surveys of 1995 and 1999 determined that the majority of big-game hunters opposed the use of crossbows.

I’d like to see a new survey, and it can start with those hunting organizations I mentioned above that support the Crossbow Hunting Coalition.

Lastly, why is the New York Conservation Officers Association, which once opposed the crossbows, now neutral, according to NYB?

I think they know it’s time for the state to have a legal combined bow/crossbow season. NYB is also the same group that opposed the three-day youth firearms hunt. For more information on their oppos­ition of this, go to, www.outdoorlife.com/blogs/big-buck-zone/2011/07/dont-let-new-york-bowhunters-inc-eat-our-young. I found it quite interesting.

Now, to appease those who requested disability exemptions, here’s what the state offers. I have no idea how this ever came about.

To obtain a disability modified crossbow permit, the disability has to be so severe that they are phys­ically unable to operate a mechan­ical device attached to a regular bow. A permit holder is authorized to use a crossbow modified with a device that requires no hand movement, since it’s released by means of a person’s discharge of breath.

So if your shoulder can no longer handle drawing a current compound bow, you can apply for a modified archery permit. This allows those permanently disabled and incapable of drawing and holding a bow to use a mechanical device (lock-a-draw). My question is, doesn’t the bow still have to be drawn before using the lock-a-draw device? How do you do that if you can’t draw your bow?

I looked at the crossbow disability requirements of a number of states, and could not find any as strict and unreasonable as New York’s. Vermont is a good example: A person who is impaired to the degree that he/she cannot operate a standard bow may obtain a permit to take game with a crossbow temporarily or permanently. In all cases, a statement is required from the person’s doctor. I’d really like to know how many modified crossbow permits have been granted in New York. More importantly, how many “used-to-be bowhunters” with shoulder disabilities are sitting home during the Oct. 1-Nov. 15 bow season who otherwise would have been out there enjoying the “bowhunting” season with a crossbow.

I know it’s quite frustrating to make all those calls to our rep­resentatives and send all those letters and then let it all be stopped by one man.

I recently sent a letter to Gov. Cuomo in which I asked how one individual, well aware of the thousands of hunters in favor of the crossbow and its truthful use as a hunting instrument, can ignore us. Shouldn’t pro-crossbow advoc­ates be given some reason why they’re being ignored. This is not the legislative process I thought I understood. I guess the word pol­itics says it all.

I can only hope those thousands of us pro-crossbow hunters who have been ignored remember that at election time.

I’ve heard it will eventually happen. I’m 69 years old, have difficulty and pain in shooting my compound bow now. I truly love bowhunting, but honestly, it’s too painful.

This fall, I’ll be back in the Pennsylvania deer woods with my TenPoint, and if I can, I will also try New Jersey. I guess I’m never going to get a chance to shoot a New York turkey with a crossbow, either, but I did it in Pennsylvania last year.

Categories: -Sports

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