With the April 1 deadline for finalizing the state’s 2014-2015 Executive budget approaching, sportsmen/hunters are hoping the Environmental Energy section that gives the Department of Environmental Conservation authority to regulate crossbow hunting will pass.
This will be a big plus for those of us who have been pro-crossbow hunting in New York state for several decades. We were close last January, when the crossbow bill was passed in the Senate, but then got tabled in the Assembly by Robert Sweeney, chairman of the Environmental Committee. With the crossbow hunting issue attached to the Executive budget, it will get voted on.
In an effort to find out DEC’s thoughts on crossbow hunting, I checked out "DEC Management Plan for Whitetail Deer in New York State 2012-2016." Here's what it says on pages 53-54 under "Crossbow use by hunters in New York."
"DEC supports the use of crossbows for hunting during all seasons in which other bowhunting equipment is allowed. The crossbow hunting law enacted in 2010 does not address deer management needs, nor is it consistent with hunter preferences. Deer populations in some portions of the state, particularly where access of firearms use is restricted, may cause serious impacts on forest regeneration, biodiversity protection, and public health.
“Crossbows are one additional tool to help DEC manage deer population. Furthermore, allowing crossbows to be used by hunters with physical disabilities as well as family members with whom they enjoy spending their outdoor experience and allow them to continue hunting. This is consistent with DEC’s interests in connecting New Yorkers with nature."
Based on that support, the New York Bowhunters organization should correct its website that states the New York Conservation Officers Association is "being neutral" on this issue.
The plan continues, "A majority of New York deer hunters (including a majority of bowhunters) support legalization of crossbows, particularly for seniors (68 percent) and hunters with disabilities (78 percent), but also for all hunters during seasons when other bowhunting equipment is allowed (51 percent), whereas only 19 percent of hunters believe crossbow use should be limited to the regular firearms season."
The NY Bowhunter website says the 1995 DEC/Cornell University survey determined that "hunters generally do not support the use of the crossbow." When deer hunters were asked if they were in support of the use of crossbows during the regular firearms season, three-quarters of the respondents said their satisfaction would change.
Of those, 68.2 percent said their satisfaction would decrease if the crossbow was allowed, and most of the hunters (87.1 percent) said their satisfaction would greatly be decreased. Obviously, these figures are out of date, and they should be corrected.
As someone who has had shooting a whitetail deer and a turkey in New York state with a crossbow at the top of my bucket list for 20 years, I'm excited about what could happen if the crossbow section in the Executive budget is passed just as it was originally written. It's definitely possible that I (we) could be sitting in a tree stand Oct. 1 with a crossbow, awaiting a deer or a turkey.
Hunters, this is the closest we've ever been to getting all-seasons crossbow hunting. Let’s not drop the ball. Get on the phone or email your state legislative representatives and tell them to pass the crossbow section of the budget as it was originally written.
I'm sure those of us who have been in favor of crossbow hunting in all seasons are tired of arguing and being at odds with the NY Bowhunters. Aren’t we all "hunters" and isn’t it time to join together as hunters?
Let’s end this foolish disagreement. We have enough problems with the anti-hunters who are thriving on our division. There's plenty of room in the woods for all of us.