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Early Opportunities for Big Game Hunting with Crossbows

Crossbow hunting for deer and bear in the Southern Zone opens November 5 and runs through November 18, the last 14 days of the early bowhunting season, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced today.

Crossbows may also be used during the regular seasons and late muzzleloader seasons. However, crossbows cannot be used in bowhunting-only wildlife management units (1C, 3S, 4J, or 8C).

“Crossbow hunting is on the rise and becoming increasingly popular with big game hunters across the State,” DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said. “New York is constantly seeking to provide sportsmen and women with additional options to hunt deer and bear. The early crossbow season is a perfect complement to the State’s hunting opportunities.”

Hunters who plan to hunt with a crossbow must be 14 years of age or older, possess a current year hunting license, and either a completed Hunter Education Certificate of Qualification card dated on or after April 1, 2014, or the completed Crossbow Certificate of Qualification from the annual Regulations Guide.

Additionally, current law treats crossbows as muzzleloaders, so hunters must possess a muzzleloader hunting privilege to legally hunt with a crossbow during any muzzleloader season or during open portions of the early bowhunting seasons. Muzzleloader privilege is not required when hunting with a crossbow during the regular firearms seasons. Currently, completion of a bowhunter education course, although recommended, or the bowhunting privilege are not required for use of a crossbow at any time.

Hunters frequently ask why crossbow hunting opportunities are restricted to certain seasons (e.g., the last 14 days of archery season in the Southern Zone) and tied to muzzleloading privilege rather than the bowhunting privilege. Crossbow use is currently determined by provisions in law. DEC has authorized crossbow use to the maximum extent allowed under the existing state law.

More information on crossbow hunting, certification, and the tags that can be used are in the Regulations Guide and on DEC’s website.