Crossbow hunting legalities and practicalities

Hunting in Texas is an interesting place.

While deer and hog populations are sky high, waterfowl habitat in much of the state has decline causing smaller numbers of snow geese and other birds to winter here. In addition, lease prices have skyrocketed for deer and ducks and certain regulations have made hunting challenging.

There are some two serious positives to Texas hunting and they both involve increased access.

The first is crossbow hunting.

After decades of whining by a very small group of people who thought crossbow use would somehow mess up their bowhunting for whitetails, they were legalized during the archery-only season and are legal for hogs and exotic year-round. There are some other big pluses for crossbows and Texas hunting. Let’s take a look.

Gerald Burleigh admires a boar that he bagged on a night crossbow hunt. Hogs can be hunted year-round with crossbows in Texas.

#Long deer season—Texas has the longest deer season in the nation. With a full month of archery-only hunting, this in inspiring some hunters to buy a crossbow, learn how to shoot it and hit the field. Additionally, there are numerous key public hunting areas in the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers systems that are bow (and crossbow) only throughout the nearly four-month deer season. Since many of these areas are located within a short drive of key metropolitan areas savvy hunters will likely get with the program.

#Off season options—Texas never really has an “off” season as there are legal hunting opportunities 365 days a year with the nation’s largest population of feral hogs (somewhere around 2.5 million) and the largest herd of exotic animals to be found anywhere. Many hunters who pursue these creatures enjoy something a bit more challenging than rifle hunting so crossbows are a perfect alternative.

A hunter in Texas does not only have to use them during a bow season like in many other states. We have an entire calendar year of opportunities and they are increasing all the time. Some metropolitan areas are legalizing archery equipment within the city limits to help decrease feral hogs, which are causing major problems. Most states are cutting out hunter opportunity while Texas is increasing it in many areas.

#Graying population—According to the Texas Department on Aging, baby boomers number 5.6 million in Texas or 28 percent of the population. Many older hunters have expressed an interest in crossbow hunting instead of traditional bowhunting due to physical limitations.

Surveys show Texas has many older hunters but most of them use guns. By giving these older hunters, which often have plenty of disposable income a chance to take a more challenging hunting route, the crossbow industry could fare very well.

#Do it all Texans—I doubt many bowhunters permanently put up their compounds, recurves and longbows to hunt strictly with crossbows. There is too much of a spiritual connection with these ancient instruments; however I suspect many bowhunters like me will try crossbows.

Another Texas positive is public hunting and much of that has to do with the actions of TPWD. They are doing something that allows families to not only continue time-honored hunting traditions but also engage a multitude of access points at a very affordable rate.

For $48, hunters can purchase an Annual Public Hunting Permit (APH) and have an opportunity to pursue their outdoors passions on more than 900,000 acres of land.

Chester Moore, Jr.

TFG Editorial: