I was both surprised and happy when I heard Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s 8,737-word executive budget speech included several surprises for outdoorsmen and women.
The biggest surprise was authorizing the state Department of Environmental Conservation to develop regulations for crossbow hunting in the state. I believe DEC has said it was in favor of crossbow hunting, but will it benefit just the physically challenged and seniors or will it be for all New York hunters in all hunting seasons? Hopefully, the latter.
I’ve been out of state service for 18 years, but I know this is a clever way to bypass the legislative blocking of this issue that has been going on for quite some time, namely New York Bowhunters Inc. and Assemblyman Robert Sweeny (D-11th District), chairman of the Environmental Conservation Committee. Last year, the Senate approved the crossbow bill by a vote of 52-10, and it was delivered to the Assembly, where it died in committee.
As for New York Bowhunters Inc., its website is very blunt about its dislike for crossbows, but the group’s arguments aren’t necessarily accurate. It says two surveys taken by Cornell showed a majority of hunters were opposed to crossbow hunting, but those surveys are 15 and 19 years old.
The group also has some data on its site that compares crossbow features with those of what they call a “modern compound bow.” The photo of this bow is misleading. I believe the majority of compound bowhunters are using string releases with adjustable triggers, fiber-optic sights and there’s even a regular red-dot electric scope. I don’t call those items traditional.
I ended my bowhunting career of 45 years because I can no longer draw and hold the string, and I really miss October bowhunting. I’ve also been a crossbow hunter since 1995, when I was invited to an Ohio crossbow deer hunt. Since that hunt, I’ve harvested a buffalo, fallow deer, ram, several boars in preserves, and a turkey and a rabbit in Pennsylvania. The number one item on my bucket list is to hunt whitetail deer and wild turkeys in New York with a crossbow.
I know Rick McDermott, president of the New York Crossbow Coalition, will be a frontrunner for getting it passed. For those who’ve never been to this site, go to www.-nycrossbowcoalition.com and see the major outdoor hunting and shooting organizations that are endorsing crossbow hunting in our state.
But that’s not enough. New York hunters have to be heard, and that’s done by contacting your legislative representatives. Here’s the email I sent to my representatives:
The executive budget was presented and as expected, language that will legalize crossbows as hunting implements as well as turn regulatory authority for their use over to the DEC was included. Additionally, language changing how far a shooter must be from a building to shoot a bow or crossbow from 500 feet to 150 feet, the $6 million allocation for 50 public access projects and the $4 million for the DEC fish hatchery which are badly needed, is also part of this package. I am urging you to support this segment of the Governor’s budget. It’s a positive, proactive step that’s important to sportsmen and New York state’s economy.”
If you want to use this email, you can copy it or go to my blog at http://fishguydblog.-blogspot.com/.
I don’t know how many members the New York Bowhunter group has. I’m sure there are more of us who don’t support them, but our numbers are meaningless if we’re silent. Send a message now.
I spoke with Jason Kemper of the New York State Conservation Fund Advisory Board, and he said: “The initiative outlined in the executive budget should enhance the hunting, fishing and trapping experience in New York state. In addition, this budget provides substantial investment of general fund dollars to complete some critical repairs at the hatcheries as well as provide access to the sporting community.”