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MADISON — The Wisconsin crossbow deer and archery deer hunting seasons starting Sept. 13 usher in an expanded crossbow license opportunity for any qualified hunter as one of the deer hunting rule changes to help hunters participate in the fall season.
For the first time this year, the crossbow hunting license may be purchased by any qualified hunter. This change replaces the previous rule limiting crossbows to use by only disabled hunters with an archer license.
Also, the crossbow hunting season will run at the same time as the regular archery deer season – Sept. 13-Jan. 14, 2015.
Hunters also should note during open firearm seasons, a gun deer license will authorize bow and crossbow use. Crossbow licenses include one statewide buck tag and one Farmland Zone antlerless tag. It is important to remember persons purchasing a traditional bow and a crossbow license will receive only one set of tags.
State hunting safety specialists say crossbows are user-friendly and enable youth, women and physically challenged individuals to enjoy archery hunting/shooting who, for whatever reason, cannot draw a conventional bow back.
Like any other shooting skill, using a crossbow safely and accurately will require a combination of old and well learned knowledge.
The four basic rules of firearm safety (TABK) apply to crossbow use and hunting.
• Treat every crossbow as if it were loaded
• Always point the crossbow in a safe direction
• Be certain of your target and what’s beyond
• Keep your finger outside the trigger guard until ready to shoot
Here are a few more things Hunter Education Administrative Warden Jon King urges people to remember if they plan to hunt with a crossbow this year:
• Always read and review the manual of your crossbow and follow all manufacture safety rules.
• Never attempt to repair your crossbow unless you are properly trained, consider taking to a pro- shop for repairs or return to the manufacturer.
• Crossbows have a safety. Most crossbows are on safe at the end of the cocking process. Immediately after cocking always check to make sure that your bow is on safe before doing anything else. This is very important!
• Always use bolts/arrows recommended by the manufacturer and handle carefully. Protect yourself and the arrow points with a covered arrow quiver.
• The safest way to carry, transport, and raise or lower a crossbow from a stand, is to have the crossbow un-cocked at all times.
• Never dry-fire a crossbow. Crossbows have a draw weight of 125-290 pounds. The safest way to un-cock a crossbow is to fire a bolt into the ground or target.
• Make sure that the limb tips are free of obstructions and your fingers, hand, or arm is not in the string path at any time while the crossbow is cocked.
• Although crossbows can be extremely accurate at great distances due to the slow velocity of the bolt/arrow, care should be taken not to take long shots at game. Most crossbows are incapable of beating an animal’s reaction time at distances greater than 50 yards.
Warden King says if a tree stand is part of your hunting tradition, he recommends reviewing safety tips. “Tree stand incidents are one of the leading causes of injury to hunters. Always wear a fall restraint device when using a tree stand and let your family know where you are going. The DNR urges hunters to utilize safety when hunting from a tree stand. For more information search the DNR website dnr.wi.gov for Tree Stand Safety.