Growing number of Michigan deer hunters give crossbows a try

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LANSING, Mich. -- Although the overall number of hunters in Michigan has been on a slight decline, the Department of Natural Resources reports that a recent deer hunter survey shows growth in one method of deer hunting -- crossbows.

In the past, only hunters with disabilities had the option to hunt with a crossbow. Beginning in 2009, crossbows were allowed in most areas of Michigan during the archery deer season in an attempt to expand hunting opportunities, retain existing hunters and recruit new hunters. Crossbow hunters were required to obtain a free crossbow stamp to determine the number of hunters who took advantage of the new method.

In 2009, the opportunity to use a crossbow was extended only to hunters 50 years of age or older in the Upper Peninsula and northern Lower Peninsula, while hunters of any age could use crossbows in the southern Lower Peninsula. In 2010 the age restriction was eliminated statewide.

The archery deer season runs statewide on public and private land and is divided into early and late season segments (Oct. 1-Nov. 14 and Dec. 1 -Jan. 1). In the Upper Peninsula, crossbows are only allowed to be used in the early archery season.

"We have discovered that in 2011, 25 percent of the crossbow users had not hunted in the archery season in previous years," said DNR deer and elk program leader Brent Rudolph. "These hunters were newly recruited or drawn back to the sport of archery hunting."

The opinion survey also revealed that hunting with a crossbow met most or all of the archers' expectations, and nearly all crossbow hunters planned to use crossbows again in the future.

The number of hunters who obtained the free crossbow stamp by year is: 2009 - 45,692, 2010 - 64,340, 2011 - 74,120 and 2012 - 88,565

Although the expanded opportunity increased the number of archery hunters, the amount of deer harvested overall during the archery season did not increase each year. Harvest of deer over all seasons combined declined or was similar to previous years.

"With close to 800,000 hunters in Michigan annually, we know deer hunting is a strong tradition held by many," said DNR Wildlife Division chief Russ Mason. "The expanded crossbow regulations met all the expectations we hoped for. Our primary goal is to do a good job managing the deer herd, and if new hunting opportunities can also be made, that's a good thing."

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  • Crossbows are for the handicapped and old people. No real bowhunter would be caught dead using one. Sadly, a growing number of MI hunters are just lazy slobs looking for a shortcut so the crossbow is the perfect weapon for them and poachers. I actually feel bad for the guys that would use a crossbow when I know they would enjoy actual bowhunting a lot more. I notice you dont see these crossbow killer including the crossgun in their kill photos. This tells me the level of shame that belongs to those that would use a crossgun. Sad.

  • Im surprised by the comments here. I never was a bowhunter because with work and raising a family I didn’t have the time. When they law changed allowing crossbows I was happy to be able to start hunting something other than the gun season. I don’t have the time to practice like bowhunters do so its works out great for me to sight in the crossbow once and then only have to take a shot or two the day before season and then hit the woods. My buddy sighted mine in for me and was packing bolts into the bullseye right off the bat. I didnt have to spend but 20 minutes shooting to be ready. I love venison but don’t have the time to put into bowhunting so crossbow hunting is the perfect scenario. Yes, I hunt over bait but again, its about killing deer and filling the freezer in the shortest amount of time possible. If I had the time to learn to be a bowhunter I would do that but I got bills to pay and family so the crossbow works for me. I took my first buck with a crossbow last year at 55 yards. It went 30 yards and dropped over a short distance from my Wheeler. Easiest kill I ever had. How is that a bad thing? Its like extending the gun season. I don’t see the problem.

  • It seems unanimous. Everybody agrees that changing the law to allow lazy slobs to use a crossbow was a bad idea. I agree. I listen to some of these guys with their xguns and you would think they are davy Crocket reborn when all they are crossbow hunters. LOL Why would they settle for a string gun when real bowhunting is there for the taking. I understand they are probable too lazy to take on a real challenge like bowhunting but don’t try to tell your trophy story and pretend you are a bowhunter and then say you killed it with a xgun. LOL Don’t get me wrong, if you are old or handicapped, feel free to use a crossbow but if you are a regular healthy man and you hunt with a crossbow, don’t expect anybody to do anything but laugh at you for taking the lazy, easy way out. You are probably sitting over a bait spinner too. Lets hope the lawmakers see the error of their ways and change the law back so that there are only bowhunters in MI.

  • All crossbows did for MI hunting was allow the lazy slob gun hunter to get a crack at another buck. Yes, crossbow turned the MI bow season into gun season part 2. MI hunters know who are the real bowhunters and who are the lazy slob crossbow hunters. The law change didnt bring women and kids into the woods. It gor crossover guys from gun hunting that are too lazy to learn how to use a real bow and it got them killing deer over bait piles. The crossbow law was a mistake that we will soon realize.

  • In the long run more hunters will be lost due to full inclusion than this short term gain.Bowhunting with a real bow was the only segment of hunting gaining popularity.Now the woods is filled with lazy crossbow hunters and big bait piles.It's just an early gun season now.I will be hunting WI and know many people who did the same this year.Hopefully they don't pass this bogus full inclusion law. Hopefully we can follow NY's lead and get crossbows back where they belong.In the hands of disabled hunters and elderly.Crossbows don't belong in archery season.

  • Crossbows are for the lazy slob that wont learn to use a bow. I would they would be embarrassed to be seen hunting with a crossbow. I know bowhunters see people using crossbows and just laugh. I suppose its ok if you are really old or handicapped since thats what a crossbow is essentially for but a regular healthy person using a crossbow is like a regular person parking in a handicapped stall. What sort of low life does that?

  • IM not sure how I got dragged into this but since I am I will respond. Yes Im disabled and yes I have a real problem with being labeled a disabled crossbower. I would like to be regarded as a bowhunter. OK so I dont use a bow but Im out during a season wghen real bows are used so that has to count for something. I chaps my arse that I have to bear the stigma of being called a disabled crossbower so yes I think the laws should change to suit me. That way I can call myself a bowhunter even though im just a crossbower. I will sleep much better knowing I am calling myself a bowhunter and I want the laws changes so other people are mandated by law to call me a bowhunter. The minority rules in America.

  • When will this lame crossbow experment be over with? MI got a bunch of gun hunters slinging bolts around the woods and somehow thats supposed to be good news. (yuk) All we got was a bunch of lazy gun hunters. We didnt add a single bowhunter. We added slob hunters looking for an easy way out. When I see guys trying to brag on their crossbow kill I just roll my eyes and laugh. (big hunters) LOL I think they would probably enjoy bowhunting a lot more but setteled for crossbow hunting.

  • I don’t know who Bob Stout is and I don’t care. He has to wrestle his own demons. My comments are in regards to the string guns here in MI. It was a mistake from the get go. I agree that crossgunners are not bowhunters. Not by a long shot. All the people I know that went out and bought a string rifle are gun hunters. It didn’t bring in women or kids or non-hunters. I have been a bowhunter for a long time. I would quit before I took the lazy way out and use a stringgun. I can see why the record books wont accept kills by a guy who uses a cocked and shoulder fired weapon he shoots off a rest. MI should have mandated that all crossgun people wear pink and have to include the xgun in any photos and must explain that killed their animal with a string gun so people don’t make the mistake of confusing them with real bowhunters.

  • I like my crossbow. I dont have to practice once I have it sighted in. I dont have the time or desire to learn to use a bow so the crossbow is perfect for me. I can kill deer out to 75 yards (7 deer so far) Im a gun hunter that always wanted to get a crack at the bucks but never was interested in bowhunting and didnt have the time but the crossbow is just like my guns and super easy to use ans I dont have to waste hours practicing. I have lent it to a couple other guys that have killed a few bucks with it. You might call me the lazy non bowhunter and you might be right but I dont care. I also have read comments from Bob Stout from WI and I agree that he is all hung up on being a handicapped person that wants to get crossbow legal so he can be thought of as a bowhunter. I use a crossbow. I know Im not a bowhunter. Im a gun hunter using a gun like weapon and I don’t care what anybody thinks. I have no problems being known as just a crossbow hunter so long as I don’t have to practice or work at it and cant shoot bucks off a rested rail.

  • Crossbow users are not bowhunters. Not even close. They are sort of like gun hunters and thats who was buying the crossgun permits. Gun hunters wanting to kill bucks (but were too lazy to be a real bowhunter) snapped up the lazy mans weapon. This was only pushed for by the lazy guy that didnt want to learn how to use a bow and the disabled people that felt the shame of being known as a disabled person. There is a guy in WI named Bob Stout who suffers this ego problem. He is a disabled crossbow shooter but he does not like being known as such so he want the laws changed to boost his ego. He thinks he will become a bowhunter if the law changes but he is sadly mistaken. He will just be a crossbow hunter. Crossbow hunters and bowhunters are not the same lot. Bowhunters use a real bow and crossbow hunters use a stored energy, shoulder fired weapon they discharge after flipping off the safety while looking through a scope and shooting from a rest. That is not a bowhunter.