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Thread: U.S. Crossbow Hunting Regulations

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    Super Moderator/ CTHS Supportor BigOutdoors's Avatar
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    U.S. Crossbow Hunting Regulations

    .S. Crossbow Hunting Regulations

    Updated: 06/23/2009
    Below is a summary of crossbow hunting regulations in the United States. Although we believe this information is accurate and current, this page is intended as a quick reference, and as such there may be details about regulations in your state that are not mentioned here (e.g. are scopes legal? can I use a crank? etc.). Regulations can and do change frequently from state to state. Please contact your state agency or visit the DNR links below to verify all the regulations you must follow. This summary page SHOULD NOT be considered official legal advice and it may contain errors or omissions for which Hunter's Friend LLC will not be held responsible.

    Crossbows legal for all persons during the entire deer hunting season.

    Crossbows are illegal in bow-only areas, but can be used where guns and bows are legal weapons. No provision for handicapped hunters.

    Crossbows legal for handicapped hunters on a very restrictive permit basis, or for anyone during general firearms seasons.

    Crossbows legal during archery seasons; must have minimum draw weight of 125 pounds and mechanical safety.

    Crossbows legal for all hunters during gun seasons. Also, the California Game Commission voted on April 22, 2004 to adopt the following language to their regulations: "Any person with a physical disability which prevents him/her from being able to draw and hold a bow in a firing position, may use a crossbow or device which holds a string and arrow in the firing position to assist in the taking of birds and mammals under the conditions of an archery tag, archery season, or general session. Under these conditions, archers must provide to the Department and retain in his/her immediate possession while taking or attempting to take big game written verification of the disability, including: the person's name and signature, address, date of birth, driver's license or DMV number, physician's name and signature, physician's license number and address and a description of the disability."

    Crossbows legal for all hunters during gun seasons and for handicapped hunters during archery season.

    Crossbows legal only for handicapped hunters by permit.

    Crossbows legal Monday through Saturday of November shotgun season and during any gun season in December or January.

    Crossbows are now legal in the Central zone (October 20-24, 2008), South zone (October 6-10, 2008), and in the Northwest Zone, the crossbow season will be seven days long and will open the Monday following Thanksgiving (December 1-7, 2008). Click on the Florida link below for additional crossbow information. Crossbows also legal for handicapped hunters by permit.

    Crossbows legal in all seasons starting 2003.

    Crossbows legal by special disabled permit only.

    During an any-weapon hunting season you can hunt with a crossbow without any other permit besides your hunting license and proper tag. Crossbows also legal for handicapped persons by permit-to hunt with a crossbow during an archery season, you must also have a valid archery permit as well as a hunting license and a proper tag.

    Hunters 62 years of age and older are now permitted to use a crossbow without a special permit. Hunters using a crossbow will need an archery deer permit and proof of age in the form of an official ID. Crossbows used in hunting as authorized by a permit issued under this section shall meet all of the following specifications:

    1) Shall have a minimum peak draw weight of 125 pounds and a maximum peak draw weight of 200 pounds.
    2) Shall have a minimum limb width of 24 inches and a minimum overall length (from butt of stock to front of limbs) of 24 inches.
    3) Shall have a working safety.
    4) Shall be used with bolts or arrows of not less than 14 inches in length (not including point) with a broadhead. Broadheads may have fixed or expandable blades, but they must be barbless and have a minimum 7/8 inch diameter when fully opened. Broadheads with fixed blade must be metal or flint-, chert-, or obsidian-napped. Broadheads with expandable blades must
    be metal.

    Crossbows also legal for handicapped hunters by permit.

    Crossbows legal only in late archery season and only for antler less deer.

    Crossbows legal for handicapped hunters with permit. Resident hunters 70 years old and older may purchase one statewide antlerless-deer only license to hunt deer with a crossbow.

    Beginning in 2008 - Crossbows of at least 125 pounds draw weight will be allowed during the regular firearms deer and turkey seasons.

    Crossbows and draw locks legal for permanently disabled hunters by permit.

    Crossbows legal for all hunters during rifle and muzzleloader seasons. Legal in archery season for handicapped hunters. Crossbows legal for deer statewide October 1-19 and November 8-December 31, 2008.

    *Proposed regulation for crossbow use for Elk - to be updated when dates published.

    The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Commission now has the ability to establish a bow and arrow only season, and a bow and arrow and crossbow season in special deer hunting seasons.

    Effective January 1, 2006, with a valid crossbow hunting license, a person may hunt bear with a crossbow during the open season on bear and may hunt deer with a crossbow during the open firearm season on deer. The crossbow hunting license may not be used to hunt deer during the archery season, muzzle loading season, or expanded archery season. Crossbows are still permitted otherwise for disabled hunters. A person who applies for the crossbow hunting license, other than a junior hunting license, must submit proof of having successfully completing an archery hunting education course and a crossbow hunting course or evidence of having previously held adult archery and crossbow hunting licenses issued specifically for the purpose of hunting with a crossbow or bow and arrow in this State or any other state, province or country in any year after 1979. Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife

    Crossbows legal during the entire bow season in the Suburban Deer Archery Zone (Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Howard, Montgomery and Prince George’s counties).

    Age 65 and over legal throughout Archery season.

    To be updated:

    *Crossbows are legal for all hunters during the October 1- October 15, 2007 and January 15-31, 2008 segments of the Deer Bow Season and all regular gun seasons and muzzleloader seasons.

    Crossbows for handicap with permit.

    Laws recently changed please check with the State wildlife authorities,1607,7-153-10363---,00.html

    Crossbows legal only for handicapped hunters by permit.

    Crossbows legal for handicapped hunters with permit, hunters 65 and older, and during primitive weapon and deer gun seasons.

    Crossbows for handicapped archers by permit and during firearms season.

    Crossbows legal only during gun seasons. No provision for handicapped hunters.

    Crossbows legal during deer and pronghorn firearms season and for handicapped hunters by permit during archery season.

    Legal for all hunters in firearms season.

    New Hampshire
    Crossbows legal for handicapped hunters by permit. Legal for all hunters in firearms season. Legal for all hunters on Long Island with Long Island Deer Permit.

    New Jersey
    June 17, 2009
    On Tuesday, June 16, the New Jersey Fish and Game Council voted on adopting proposed amendments to the 2009 – 2012 Game Code. The Council voted to adopt all the proposed amendments except amendment 29, which proposed boundary changes to Deer Management Zones 19 and 23. The full proposal containing the amendments can be viewed at (PDF) on the NJ DEP website.

    The most significant amendment adopted expands the definition of "bow" by removing the prohibition on all draw locking and draw holding devices and by including crossbows in the definition. This allows the use of crossbows in any bow and arrow hunting season and other hunting seasons for all species where the use of bow and arrow is allowed. Crossbows must have a minumum draw weight of 75 pounds and a minimum stock length of 25 inches. (Note that that crossbows are NOT legal for bowfishing at this time; bowfishing is covered by the Freshwater Fish Code.)

    This amendment, in addition to the recently passed law allowing Sunday bow and arrow deer hunting on Wildlife Management Areas and private property, is expected to increase participation in New Jersey bow and arrow hunting seasons. Hunters who have never purchased a New Jersey bow and arrow hunting license or have not purchased one since the implementation of the electronic licensing system must present one of the following to purchase a license: 1) a hunter education archery certificate, or 2) a prior year resident bow and arrow license (from NJ or any other state), or 3) a prior year nonresident NJ bow and arrow license. Information on hunter education requirements for bow and arrow hunting and hunter education session schedules can be obtained at

    The 2009 – 2012 Game Code becomes law five days after it is published in the New Jersey Register. Hunters are advised to consult the NJ Division of Fish and Game website for updates on the Game Code publication date and effective date of the amended Code.

    New Mexico
    Crossbow use is allowed by Certified Mobility Impaired Hunters during all hunts.

    New York
    A modified crossbow permit is available for persons meeting a defined physical disability.
    Page 15 of 2009-2010 NYS Hunting Regulations


    North Carolina
    As of 08/01/2010 Crossbows are legal anytime bows and arrows are legal weapons.

    In March 2009 the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission adopted the proposal to allow the use of crossbows, without permit, anytime bow and arrows are legal weapons, but on April 21, 2009 the North Carolina Rules Review Commission has referred a number of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission’s proposed rules changes to the General Assembly, due to written opposition. This action is required under state law.

    North Dakota

    Crossbows legal for handicapped hunters by permit.

    Crossbows legal during archery season; Draw weight must not be less than 75 pounds and no more than 200 pounds.

    The use of crossbows and conventional longbows with a device that permits the bow to be held mechanically at full or partial draw are legal hunting methods during any open season when conventional longbows (archery equipment) are a legal means of take. See individual species’ regulations for any draw weight, bolt length and broadhead size requirements.

    Crossbows illegal.

    The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners has approved the expanded lawful use of crossbows to include both the archery deer and bear seasons. The Board included a sunset date for the expanded crossbow use requiring a future vote on the measure again before June 30, 2012.

    *The use of magnified scopes was approved on April 21, 2009.

    Rhode Island
    Crossbows only legal for hunters who possess an official Adaptive Aid/Crossbow Permit obtained through the DEM Division of Licensing. Crossbows must be a minimum draw weight of 150-pounds and 24-inches wide.

    South Carolina

    Archery equipment is now defined as " a bow and arrow, a long bow, a recurve bow, a compound bow, or a cross bow.”

    South Dakota
    Crossbows legal for handicapped hunters during archery season.

    The use of crossbows is now permitted during all seasons including the regular archery season.

    Full-inclusion of crossbows in archery seasons except Grayson County.

    UtahCrossbows legal only for handicapped hunters by permit.

    Crossbows legal only for handicapped hunters by permit.

    At the June 23, 2005, meeting of the Board of Game and Inland Fisheries the Board approved the use of crossbows for hunting during the upcoming fall hunting season. Previously, only disabled hunters could hunt with crossbows. For more specific crossbow information click on the following link:

    Crossbows approved (effective 5/5/04) for use by qualifying archers with disabilities.

    West Virginia
    Crossbows legal with a Class Y Crossbow Permit for individuals who have been determined to have a permanent physical impairment which renders them so disabled as to be unable to use a conventional bow and arrow device. An application must be completed and submitted by the hunter and a licensed Physician to the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources for consideration.

    Crossbows are not legal to use except by disabled hunters issued a Class A, B, or Crossbow permit; resident hunters 65 years of age or older issued a valid archery hunting license.

    Crossbows legal during archery seasons; Must have 90 pound minimum draw weight and shoot a minimum 16-inch bolt.

  2. #2
    CTHS Supportor Horizontal Hunter's Avatar
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    Nov 2007
    Western Massachusetts
    Connecticut also allows all hunters hunting the January season in zones 11 and 12 to use a crossbow.


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