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US CROSSBOW HUNTING REGULATIONS


Updated 05/13/2013

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 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.

PENDING LEGISLATION


New York

SB 1699-Would allow the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to promulgate standards to allow for a legalized crossbow hunting season. In so doing, New York might soon join the 21 other states that currently allow crossbow use during the entire archery season (49 states currently allow some form of crossbow use).

http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/68802.html

Connecticut

There is a Notice of Intent to Amend Regulations in regards to crossbow use on some private lands during the January archery deer season and removing interview requirements for crossbow disability permits.

CT Notice of Intent to Amend Regulations and Notice of Public Hearing

www.dep.state.ct.us

APPROVED LEGISLATION


Kansas (2013)

Crossbows legal for all hunters during archery deer seasons.

www.kdwp.state.ks.us

Mississippi (2013)

Effective July 1, 2013, crossbows are legal in all of Archery Season.  Archer's are reminded that they are required to wear hunter orange during all gun seasons.  The separate crossbow permit is no longer required.

http://home.mdwfp.com/ContentManagement/Html/htmldownload.aspx?id=13

Rhode Island

The crossbow is no longer classified as a firearm - it is now in the same classification as recurves, compounds and longbows. Crossbows are now Approved for use by all archery hunters during the Archery deer season provided the hunter has successfully completed the Bow Hunter education course or otherwise qualifies for an Archery deer permit.

www.dem.ri.gov/pubs/regs/index.htm

Kansas

Effective Fall 2012, it will be legal for hunters 55 and older and those with a youth big game permit to use crossbows during archery big game and turkey seasons.

Any person with a deer permit valid during the archery deer season in deer management units 1, 12, 15, and 19 may use a crossbow during deer archery season, regardless of age or disability. Each person age 16 through 54 shall obtain a free crossbow hunter survey number from the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism before hunting with a crossbow during archery season.Fort Riley deer season set: archery, Sept. 1-Dec. 31 and Jan. 14-31, 2013; youth/disabled, Sept. 8-16 and Oct. 5-8; and firearms, Nov. 23-25 and Dec. 15-23 and Jan. 19-21, 2013.

www.kdwp.state.ks.us

Wisconsin

During any gun deer season, hunters can use a firearm, bow and arrow, or crossbow as their weapon of choice while hunting under the authority of their gun deer license and gun deer carcass tags. During the 10-day muzzleloader season, a hunter can use a muzzleloading firearm, bow and arrow, or a crossbow as their weapon of choice while hunting under the authority of their gun deer license and gun deer carcass tag.

www.dnr.state.wi.us

Indiana

Crossbows are legal in all of Archery Season.  The rule changes include creating a crossbow license and authorizing its use during the entire Archery Season.  The Archery season will also be extended without interruption from October 1st thru the first Sunday in January.

www.in.gov/dnr/fishwild/3188.htm

North Dakota

Effective September 1, 2011, the following new regulations will go into effect:

1.  Crossbows are now legal for hunters during the rifle season.

2.  Crossbows are now legal for all hunters during primitive weapons season.  Note: Crossbows used during the primitive weapons season may NOT be equipped with optics that have any magnification.  Only scopes and red dots with 1x magnification may be used during the primitive weapons season.

www.gf.nd.gov

Nebraska

Crossbows are legal archery equipment for big game (deer, antelope, elk, turkey & bighorn sheep).

www.ngpc.state.ne.us

Florida

August 30, 2010.  Effective July 2011, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission  passed a new rule which will extend zonal crossbow seasons by a month.  The new rule adds   30 days to each crossbow season in zones A, B, and C, and adds 33 days in zone D, thereby coinciding with the archery season.  In addition, it allows any hunter with a hunting license, deer permit, and crossbow permit to take a deer of either sex with a crossbow.

www.floridaconservation.org/

Michigan

August 17, 2010. Effective immediately, crossbow regulations have expanded for hunters statewide (see approved MI legislation section from 2009 below).

The crossbow regulation changes include the following:

-Lowered the minimum age for crossbow use from 12 to 10 years of age statewide.

-Expanded the use of crossbows to all legal hunters during all archery and firearms seasons statewide, except in the Upper Peninsula, where crossbow use will remain prohibited during the late archery and muzzleloader seasons, unless the hunter is disabled.

-Allows the use of modified bows where crossbows are legal.

-Includes a temporary crossbow permit for hunters with temporary disabilities.

-Eliminates a provision limiting the maximum bolt velocity for crossbows.

-Eliminates the 3-year sunset provision for the use of crossbows in the affected section of the Wildlife Conservation Order.

Hunters using crossbows will still be required to obtain a free crossbow stamp.

http://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,1607,7-153-10363---,00.html

Alabama

July 28, 2010,magnified scopes are now legal on crossbows.

www.outdooralabama.com

Delaware

July 28, 2010 - Allows the use of crossbows during all deer seasons.  Crossbows used for deer hunting must have a minimum pull weight of 125-pounds, be manufactured after 1980 and have a mechanical safety.  Crossbows may be equipped with a scope.

It is unlawful to transport a crossbow on or within any vehicle while the crossbow is in the cocked position.

Deer may be hunted with crossbows provided hunter orange is displayed when it is also lawful to hunt deer with a gun.

www.dnrec.state.de.us

North Carolina

July 23, 2010 - Effective August 1, 2010, allows the use of crossbows anytime bow and arrows are legal weapons.

http://www.ncwildlife.org

Nova Scotia

June 23, 2010 - Now allows the use of crossbows in all hunting situations where conventional bows may be used, except the special open season for bowhunting deer.  Also allows the use of camouflage orange garments while hunting (in addition to blaze orange).

Oklahoma

June 10, 2010 - Effective July 1, 2010, crossbows will become a legal means of hunting during any archery season in Oklahoma.

www.wildlifedepartment.com

The approved bill (SB 1594) states:

 "The use of crossbows and conventional longbows with a device that permits the bow to be held mechanically at full or partial draw, shall be a legal hunting method during any open season when conventional longbows are a legal means of take."

Mississippi

May 19, 2010 - The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks (MDWFP) Commissioners voted to approve Public Notice of Intent Number W12 3174(I).  This approval applies to all Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) in the State, unless otherwise stated in individual WMA regulations.

The legal definition changes include:

Primitive Weapons:  Primitive weapons are those defined by Public Notice LE-2280 and Archery Equipment.

Archery Equipment:  Longbows, recurves, compounds, and crossbows are legal archery equipment.

www.dnr.state.mn.us

Maryland

Annapolis, MD (March 26, 2010) - The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Wildlife and Heritage Service will now allow crossbows to be used to hunt any game species during any open season where a vertical bow may be used (excluding waterfowl and certain furbearers). This will permit the use of a crossbow during the entire deer bow season in all counties.  Minimum draw weight is 75-pounds, telescopic sights are permitted and the crossbow must have a working safety.

www.dnr.state.md.us/huntersguide

New Jersey

The New Jersey Fish and Game Council has approved 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 minimum draw weight of 75 pounds and a minimum stock length of 25 inches.

www.njfishandwildlife.com

Texas

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

www.tpwd.state.tx.us

North Carolina

The Continuing Crossbow Permit for Dealers & Manufacturers issue was approved & signed on March 19, 2009.

http://www.ncwildlife.org

Pennsylvania

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.

www.pgc.state.pa.us

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.”

www.dnr.state.sc.us

Louisiana

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.

www.wlf.state.la.us/

Illinois

Hunters 62 years of age and older are now permitted to use a crossbow without a special permit.

http://www.dnr.state.il.us/admin/Digest/

Oklahoma

Hunters 60 years of age and older are now permitted to use a crossbow.

www.wildlifedepartment.com

Quebec

Most bow hunting seasons were replaced with crossbow and bow hunting seasons. Please consult the table of hunting seasons to find out these new terms and conditions.

Nova Scotia

Crossbows can be used to hunt deer only during the General Open Season for hunting deer.

LAWS FOR ALL 50 STATES


Alabama

Crossbows legal for all persons during the entire deer hunting season.  Magnified scopes are now allowed on crossbows only.
www.outdooralabama.com/hunting/
334-242-3469

Alaska

Crossbows are illegal in bow-only areas, but can be used where guns and bows are legal weapons. Legal in archery season for handicapped hunters with an approved Methods and Means Exemption Form.
www.adfg.state.ak.us
907-465-4190

Arizona

Crossbows legal for handicapped hunters on a very restrictive permit basis, or for anyone during general firearms seasons.
www.azgfd.com
602-942-3000

Arkansas

Crossbows legal during archery seasons; must have minimum draw weight of 125 pounds and mechanical safety. http://www.agfc.com/hunting/pages/default.aspx
501-223-6300

California

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." www.dfg.ca.gov 916-445-0411

Colorado

Crossbows legal for all hunters during gun seasons and for handicapped hunters during archery season. www.wildlife.state.co.us
303-297-1192

Connecticut

Crossbows legal for handicapped hunters by permit and for anyone during the January archery season on private property in Deer Management Zones 11 & 12.  Draw weight must be a minimum of 125-pounds and a maximum of 220-pounds, have a permanently fixed rifle stock and mechanical safety, minimum finished arrow weight of 450-grains or higher and a minimum arrow length of 18-inches. www.dep.state.ct.us 860-424-3011

Delaware

Crossbows legal during all deer seasons.  Crossbows may be equipped with a scope.

It is unlawful to transport a crossbow on or within any vehicle while the crossbow is in the cocked position.  Deer may be hunted with crossbows provided hunter orange is displayed when it is also lawful to hunt deer with a gun.

www.fw.delaware.gov 302-739-9911

Florida

August 30, 2010.  Effective July 2011, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission  passed a new rule which will extend zonal crossbow seasons by a month.  The new rule adds   30 days to each crossbow season in zones A, B, and C, and adds 33 days in zone D, thereby coinciding with the archery season on private land only. 
www.myfwc.com/recreation/hunt_index.aspx
850-488-3831

Georgia

Crossbows legal in all seasons starting 2003.
www.gohuntgeorgia.com

770-918-6416

Hawaii

Crossbows legal by special disabled permit only.
www.hawaii.gov/dlnr
808-587-0400

Idaho

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. www.fishandgame.idaho.gov
208-334-3700

Illinois

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 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.
http://www.dnr.illinois.gov/hunting/Pages/default.aspx
217-782-6384

Indiana

Crossbows legal in entire archery season beginning December 31, 2011.  Crossbows must have a minimum draw weight of 125-pounds and a mechanical safety.
www.in.gov/dnr/fishwild/2343.htm
317-232-4200

Iowa

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.
www.iowadnr.com
515-281-5918

Kansas

Crossbows legal for all hunters during archery deer seasons.

Read more here: http://blogs.kansas.com/outdoors/#storylink=cpy
www.kdwp.state.ks.us
620-672-5911

Kentucky

Crossbows legal for all hunters during rifle and muzzleloader seasons, and portions of archery season (dates change annually). Legal in archery season for handicapped hunters.
www.kdfwr.state.ky.us/
800-858-1549

Louisiana

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.
www.wlf.state.la.us/hunting

225-765-2350

Maine

Crossbows legal for persons 16-years of age or older to hunt bear with a crossbow during the bear hunting season, or to hunt deer with a crossbow during the open firearm season on deer.  Also legal for disabled hunters. http://www.maine.gov/ifw/hunting_trapping/hunting/index.htm
207-287-8000

Maryland

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Wildlife and Heritage Service now allows crossbows to be used to hunt any game species during any open season where a vertical bow may be used (excluding waterfowl and certain furbearers). This would permit the use of a crossbow during the entire deer bow season in all counties.  Minimum draw weight is 75-pounds, telescopic sights are permitted and the crossbow must have a working safety. www.dnr.state.md.us/huntersguide
1-877-620-8367 (in state) or 410-260-8367 (out of state)

Massachusetts

Crossbows may be used by certain permanently handicapped persons by permit only. http://www.mass.gov/dfwele/dfw/regulations/abstracts/hunt_fish_abstracts.pdf
508-389-6300

Michigan

August 17, 2010, Effective immediately, crossbow regulations have expanded for hunters statewide.

The crossbow regulation changes include the following:

-Lowered the minimum age for crossbow use from 12 to 10 years of age statewide.

-Expanded the use of crossbows to all legal hunters during all archery and firearms seasons statewide, except in the Upper Peninsula, where crossbow use will remain prohibited during the late archery and muzzleloader seasons, unless the hunter is disabled (Crossbows may only be used in the Upper Peninsula by anyone 50 years of age or older during the Oct. 1-Nov. 14 bow hunting deer season statewide).

Hunters using crossbows will still be required to obtain a free crossbow stamp. The stamp, which is free, will help the DNR monitor and survey crossbow hunters.
http://www.michigan.gov/dnr
517-373-1263

Minnesota

Crossbows legal for handicapped hunters by permit.  Also legal for anyone during firearms season and Turkey and Bear seasons.
www.dnr.state.mn.us
888-646-6367 or 651-296-6157

Mississippi

Effective July 1, 2013, crossbows are legal in all of Archery Season.  Archer's are reminded that they are required to wear hunter orange during all gun seasons.  The separate crossbow permit is no longer required.

www.mdwfp.com
601-432-2400

Missouri

Crossbows for handicapped archers by permit and during firearms season.
www.mdc.mo.gov/hunt/

573-751-4115

Montana

Crossbows legal only during gun seasons. No provision for handicapped hunters.
www.fwp.mt.gov
406-444-2535

Nebraska

Crossbows are legal archery equipment for big game (deer, antelope, elk, turkey & bighorn sheep). www.outdoornebraska.ne.gov
402-471-0641

Nevada

Crossbows may only be used for hunting big game during an "Any Legal Weapon" hunt.  Crossbows are not allowed for archery hunts.  Crossbows must have a minimum 125-pound draw weight, minimum draw length of 14-inches from front of bow to nocking point, minimum 18-inch stock and a positive mechanical safety.  Arrows must be minimum 16-inches and have a broadhead.
www.ndow.org/
775-688-1500

New Hampshire

Crossbows legal for handicapped hunters by permit. Legal for all hunters to take a deer in firearms season. Legal for all hunters on Long Island in Moultonborough with Long Island Deer Permit.  Crossbow hunters must purchase a crossbow hunting permit.
www.wildlife.state.nh.us

603-271-2461 or 603-271-2462

New Jersey

Crossbows are legal 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 minimum draw weight of 75 pounds and a minimum stock length of 25 inches.

www.njfishandwildlife.com
609-292-2965

New Mexico

Crossbow use is allowed by Certified Mobility Impaired Hunters during all hunts.  Crossbows may now be used in "Any Legal Sporting Arm" or Muzzleloader" hunts unless otherwise restricted.
www.wildlife.state.nm.us
505-476-8000

New York

Please note: the law allowing use of crossbows expired on December 31, 2012. Crossbows may no longer be used for hunting in New York.

http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/68802.html

www.dec.ny.gov

518-402-8924 or 518-402-8985

North Carolina

Effective August 1, 2010, allows the use of crossbows anytime bow and arrows are legal weapons. Crossbows must have a minimum draw weight of 150-pounds.
http://www.ncwildlife.org/hunting/index.htm
919-707-0050

North Dakota

Crossbows legal for handicapped hunters by permit.

Effective September 1, 2011, the following new regulations will go into effect:

1.  Crossbows are now legal for hunters during the rifle season.

2.  Crossbows are now legal for all hunters during primitive weapons season.  Note: Crossbows used during the primitive weapons season may NOT be equipped with optics that have any magnification.  Only scopes and red dots with 1x magnification may be used during the primitive weapons season.

www.gf.nd.gov
701-328-6300

Ohio

Crossbows legal during archery season.
www.ohiodnr.com/wildlife/default.htm
614-265-6300

Oklahoma

Crossbows and conventional bows with draw lock devices are a legal means of hunting whenever conventional bows are allowed.
www.wildlifedepartment.com
405-521-3851

Oregon

Crossbows illegal.
www.dfw.state.or.us

503-947-6000

Pennsylvania

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.
www.pgc.state.pa.us
717-787-4250

Rhode Island

The crossbow is no longer classified as a firearm - it is now in the same classification as recurves, compounds and longbows. Crossbows are now Approved for use by all archery hunters during the Archery deer season provided the hunter has successfully completed the Bow Hunter education course or otherwise qualifies for an Archery deer permit.

The use of crossbow for hunting wild turkey or any wild bird is prohibited by law (RIGL 20-14-7).

Special permits are no longer required to hunt with the crossbow including those previously required for disabled hunters; however, use of Adaptive Aids for archery hunting still requires the special permit.

www.dem.ri.gov/pubs/regs/index.htm
401-222-6800

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.” www.dnr.state.sc.us
803-734-3886

South Dakota

Crossbows legal for handicapped hunters during archery season. Must have a minimum draw weight of 125-pounds and a functional mechanical safety device.  Telescopic sights and lighted sight pins are prohibited.
www.gfp.sd.gov
605-223-7665

Tennessee

The use of crossbows is now permitted during all seasons including the regular archery season. www.state.tn.us/twra 615-781-6500

Texas

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

www.tpwd.state.tx.us
512-389-4800 or 1-800-792-1112

Utah

Crossbows legal only for handicapped hunters by permit.

www.wildlife.utah.gov/dwr

801-538-4700

Vermont

Crossbows legal only for handicapped hunters by permit.
www.vtfishandwildlife.com

802-241-3700

Virginia

Crossbows are legal during archery season and firearms season.  A crossbow permit will be required if the season is "archery only".
http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/hunting/

804-367-1000

Washington

Crossbows legal for qualifying archers with disabilities.  Crossbows are also legal in firearms season.  Crossbows must have a minimum draw weight of 125-pounds and a working safety.  Retractable broadheads are not legal. Using a scope on a crossbow during a modern firearm season is now allowed.

Several areas of law in need of clarification. Please consult Dept. of Fish & Wildlife directly for a list of approved crossbows.

http://wdfw.wa.gov
360-902-2200

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.
www.wvdnr.gov
304-558-2758

Wisconsin

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

During any gun deer season, hunters can use a firearm, bow and arrow, or crossbow as their weapon of choice while hunting under the authority of their gun deer license and gun deer carcass tags. During the 10-day muzzleloader season, a hunter can use a muzzleloading firearm, bow and arrow, or a crossbow as their weapon of choice while hunting under the authority of their gun deer license and gun deer carcass tag.

WI Hunting Regulations 608-266-2621

Wyoming

Crossbows legal during archery seasons; Must have 90-pound minimum draw weight, minimum draw length of 14-inches and shoot a minimum 16-inch bolt.
http://gf.state.wy.us
307-777-4600

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