If you are already an archery hunter, this post isn’t for you. I’m not trying to convert anyone from compound bows to crossbows. But, you are welcome to hear my thoughts just the same. This post is for the new hunters, late onset hunters, and gun hunters who want to stretch their season.
I dabbled in archery hunting for a number of years. I have killed a grand total of 1 deer with a bow. I have missed at least 4, maybe 6. I find traditional or compound archery equipment to be a challenge to use. And not necessarily for the beginner. There is a steep learning curve. It takes a serious commitment and dedication to become proficient with archery equipment. Archery hunting seems to be for people who like to tinker. And don’t get me wrong, I have tinkeritis to the highest degree. I just don’t need another thing to tinker with.
But, the archery season starting 30 days earlier than the nearest gun season became too much for me to bear. With many states legalizing cross bows over the last few years I jumped on the wagon recently. According to TenPoint Crossbows there are 27 states where crossbows are legal during archery season. There are another 4 states where they are legal in certain cases, not including states where they are allowed for seniors, or disabled.
I found a closeout deal on a Carbon Express crossbow. Shipped to my door with scope and 3 bolts for the whopping grand total of $166.00. I then ordered a dozen matching bolts, 12 125gr field tips, 3 G5 Montec 125gr broadheads, and a target. For less than $300 I had a turn-key solution that gains me 30 extra days of deer season.
And the beauty of it; within 10 minutes I was center punching the target to 40 yards. I’m not going to argue that crossbows increase efficacy. It seems that is hard to debate. I’d be interested to hear some statistics on how many more deer are now taken with crossbows. There are the people who got into archery just because of crossbows, and then those who were already archery hunting that made the switch. That group, I’d guess does not contribute much to overall harvest numbers.
Some insight into my choice of bolts, and broadheads; I wanted a heavier bolt than the minimum. Minimum bolt weight is listed on the crossbow. I chose a 350gr bolt. Then a 125gr broadhead. So, my bolts right now are coming in around 472gr. A heavier bolt will be quieter. It will also absorb much more of the energy from the crossbow which is hard on strings, and other hardware components. A heavier bolt penetrates better. Not much of an issue because at 165lb draw weight pass throughs at 40 yards are common.
That being said, I will be switching out the inserts in my bolts to go even heavier. Probably somewhere in the range of 100 additional grains. I lose a little speed, but gain penetration, easier on parts, and a quieter bow. There also seems to be a correlation between weight of arrow, front of center and broadheads that shoot true instead of planing.
The Quality Deer Management Association has been implementing a program where they are recruiting new hunters through farmers markets stands offering to taste venison. The participants go through some classroom time and use a crossbow to start hunting. Withing three hours they are proficient enough to hunt. These are people who may have never shot any weapon whatsoever. You can listen in depth to this story on the Meateater Podcast here and the Wired to Hunt Podcast here.
If you’re like me, and want to extend your deer season without the substantial investment in archery tackle, tinkering and practice, consider a crossbow.