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Crossbows may not be in favor yet but times are changing

The Minnesota Deer Hunters Association (MDHA) recently voted against a resolution that would have opened the door for more crossbows.

How the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the Minnesota State Legislature would feel about allowing them to all is a bridge yet to be "crossed."

What is known is that crossbows have been restricted to deer hunters with handicaps for many years in Minnesota. I knew Oscar Welander, an old jeweler in Fergus Falls, who had obtained the right to use a crossbow but needed a custom-made pulley system to draw the bowstring back into a cocked position. Welander was an old pro with a bow, he had shot recurve and compound in his younger days. The crossbow gave him a chance to continue hunting with a weapon of his choice.

Archery hunters have always been among the hunting elite. They have to be. When your quarry has to be close, often in low light, you cannot afford to make a mistake. I know an archer who waited for just the right wind, then took a boat across a pond to reach his hunting spot because he did not want to leave a lot of scent. It was so much more than simply shooting a deer for him.

It probably strikes the uneducated that these same elite archery hunters are given 3 1/2 months to bag their deer. This puzzler has an easy answer. Bowhunting for deer is an experience to be savored. A bowhunt is a chance to watch nature on stage. For the price of a license fee a bowhunter can go out day after day and just watch wildlife. There is no need to take a shot just so you can put venison in the freezer.

You can appreciate the mild contempt that bowhunters have for crossbow and rifle hunters. These weapons do not take long hours of practice to become proficient with and scoped rifles can kill at ranges no compound bow or crossbow can equal. Where is the challenge?

Despite the way the MDHA feels about crossbows now, there is a good chance the day will come when they are legal weapons for everyone. More and more states are getting onboard. The unfair advantage crossbows used to have over compound bows, that of having sights, has not existed for some time.

If and when a liberalized crossbow season in Minnesota becomes a reality It would not be a bad idea to have separate regulations for crossbow hunters. Wisconsin regulations state that "when hunting under the authority of an archer license, only bows and arrows are allowed. When hunting under the authority of a crossbow license, only a crossbow is allowed."

With respects to the archery crowd, I think it is important to the future of hunting in Minnesota to encourage more people to hunt. There is an old saying that sometimes you have to give to get.