Attention crossbow hunters: if you live in Wisconsin, you now have your own hunting season.
Indeed, it was a banner week for the crossbow community in the capital city of Madison, Wisconsin, where the state’s governor, one Scott Walker, took Tuesday, December 10 as an opportunity to give crossbow hunters throughout the state greater freedoms and opportunities. The new legislation – initially called “Assembly Bill 194,” and now titled “Act 61” – will provide a provision in state law for an official crossbow-hunting license.
The new type of hunting tag will be available to all hunters regardless of age, experience, or ability and will give way to an official “crossbow hunting season” – not unlike most states’ lengthy bowhunting season. In fact, Wisconsin’s crossbow deer hunting season will now coincide precisely with its archery season. In other words, Wisconsin rifle hunters who don’t mind the concept of shooting at big game animals with arrows or bolts, but who want a weapon with a feel and shooting method more in line with their beloved guns should probably get started now in purchasing and practicing with a crossbow.
The new law is big news for the Wisconsin hunting scene. In previous year – including this one – crossbows were not banned from use in the state, but they were subjected to bizarre rules and regulations. This season, for instance, hunters were allowed to use a crossbow for deer hunting, but only if they were over the age of 65 years old or suffering from some sort of physical disability that hindered their ability to use a regular bow and arrow. Precisely why crossbow use has long remained so restricted in Wisconsin is hard to say. Who knows, maybe the state’s Department of Natural Resources has some moral objection to the weapon.
Read more about crossbow hunting.
In any case, Governor Walker and a slew of other lawmakers – both in Wisconsin and at the federal level – have now required the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to change its tune on crossbows. This new Act 61 law has actually been percolating for awhile now, first in the Senate – where it passed in a vote back in September – and then by a Wisconsin general assembly, which approved the bill in a unanimous 91-0 vote in October. Governor Walker’s signature has now rendered the crossbow bill a state law. Clearly, crossbow enthusiasts in Wisconsin have cause to celebrate.
Of course, just because Act 61 is now an official law does not mean that Wisconsin crossbow hunters are guaranteed a sound and bountiful future in the state. While the law will go into effect with the 2014 hunting season, “crossbow hunting season” will exist for awhile as a test. The law provides for a three-year trial period for the new hunting season and license variety. During those three years, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources will keep track of how many deer crossbow hunters are harvesting. Once the trial period is up, the department will take a look at the numbers, report them to state legislators, and decide whether or not “crossbow season” should become a permanent Wisconsin tradition.
Featured image via CheaperThanDirt.com