Bill A.924/S.6793, better known as the crossbow bill, has passed and now awaits the governor’s signature. However, the bill was so diluted from its original writing, its impact will be miniscule, both in expanding deer hunting opportunities as well as generating more money to fund the DEC’s shrinking fish and wildlife budget pool. As passed, the revised bill would empower the DEC to establish a crossbow hunting season but “only to coincide with the regular firearms and late-season muzzleloader hunting seasons.” The original bill would have also allowed crossbow use on private property during any deer-hunting season, including archery.
Crossbows have been illegal tools for hunting in New York for decades, despite proponents having tried to reverse that law for the past 20 years. Only Oregon still bans crossbows for hunting, but given the watered down version of New York’s new crossbow law, for all practical purposes New York may as well have not wasted time passing such an anemic law, although claiming it would draw more people and license money into the hunting fold and help manage deer.
Common sense should’ve indicated that big game hunters that are given a choice between hunting with a modern firearm, even a muzzleloader, after the early-archery-season ends would rarely opt for a crossbow (and also have to buy a special license to do so). Heck, even the vast majority of the most avid archers trade their vertical bows for a firearm once the firearms seasons open (the exception being Westchester County where no firearms deer season is present due to heavy suburbanization development). The normally frigid weather during the regular firearms and late muzzleloader seasons is highly unfriendly to any type of bowhunting, be it with a vertical or horizontal bow.