Crossbow Questions And Answers

Rick McDermott - NY Crossbow Coalition

Posted By Guest Blogger, 5 years ago

Below is a list of questions I have received since the Crossbow became a legal hunting implement. There has been much confusion surrounding what the law means. Here is a list of questions I have received and the best answers I have at this time. This information has been reviewed by the DEC for accuracy.

I hope you find this helpful.

Q) Will I lose my muzzle loader tag in order to tag a harvest? Or put an archery tag on it?
A) The muzzleloader tag is a combination tag. They are valid for both bow and muzzleloader seasons. If you  are going to hunt with a crossbow you must possess the muzzleloader privilege (license). If you have both a muzzleloader and bow privilege you receive 2 tags labeled bow/mz. In your case you can use one for your crossbow and one for your muzzleloader if you choose not to use a vertical bow. This may seem confusing, but if you had both tags in the past, you could use both for your bow or both for your muzzleloader or one for each. Now you can choose from 3 implements but you only have 2 Bow/Mz tags. You can choose to use them for any legal implement during the appropriate season. In addition, DMPs may now be used in early bow seasons and in the northern zone the early muzzleloader season so that is another tagging option where applicable. What is important is that you must have the muzzleloader privilege to use the crossbow during the part of the archery seasons that are open for crossbows.

Q) The need for a muzzleloader license to hunt with a crossbow? This has the smell of revenue generating written all over it!!
A) The need for a muzzleloader license to use a crossbow is because the regular hunting license only allows hunting of game during the regular season.  In many ways, the Legislature treated crossbows more like a firearm than a bow, so they opted to use the muzzleloader privilege rather than the bowhunting privilege to allow take by crossbows outside of the regular season.  This was not done to be a revenue generator. People need to purchase a license either way and many people already have one or both. If the motive was truly revenue generation, they could have created a separate crossbow privilege and tag.

Q) Thanks for all your help in passing this legislation. Although I did a lot of verbal and writing on behalf of our association, I have failed to become a paid member. Please explain how this can be done.
A) You can join NYCC by filling out an online application at and make your payment through PayPal or by printing an application at and mailing it with a check or money order to the address at the bottom of the application.

Q) What is considered the early archery season?
A) All seasons are considered “Early” if they happen prior to the “Regular” season, which is the firearms season, and “Late” if it occurs after (except in Westchester and Suffolk counties). Thus the Early Archery Season is what most people refer to as “Archery Season” since it precedes the firearms seasons.  There are also
late bowhunting seasons, after the regular seasons, in both the Northern and Southern zones.

Q) Where can I find the legislative info?
A) The legislative information pertaining to the crossbow can be found at the following link.

Q) I was wondering if you had any idea what education is going to be required to use a crossbow during the archery season.
A) The crossbow will be covered in the Hunter Ed class going forward. At this time it is not required to take the Bowhunter Education class, but it is highly recommended that anyone wishing to hunt with a crossbow voluntarily take the class as hunting with the crossbow requires skill sets that are covered in the Bow class that will not be covered in the Hunter Education class. There will be a document that you will have to fill out stating you read the crossbow safety information and carry that with you while hunting. That information is not presently available, but will be included in the DEC Hunting guide and posted on the DEC website in plenty of time prior to hunting season.

Q) Will you be letting us know, when we will be able to have a chance to let the DEC see our comments?
A) As soon as the DEC proposes regulations to implement the law, NYCC will be sending out an update to inform everyone how to submit comments.

Q) What is the best crossbow or a group of three crossbows that may be considered for purchase and any scopes or attachments arrows, broad heads, crank/manual draw, etc
A) The best crossbow is the one that fits you, is comfortable and within your price range. It is strongly suggested that you visit shops that will allow you to shoot different models so you can make an informed decision. What is good for me may not be the best for you.

Q) The restrictions on the Southern Bow Season dates are arbitrary in my mind, as well as the prohibition of using crossbows in the bow-only areas of Westchester and Suffolk Counties and WMUs 4J and 8C. How do we offer comment?
A) These restrictions are written into law. The way to voice your opinion is to let your elected officials know your feelings. The seasons will be addressed in the future, but for this year it is what we will have to accept.

Q) Does this mean we can only use the crossbow during the last two weeks of bow season forever, or can they, the DEC, regulate it to the start of the bow season in the future?
A) The crossbow use in the last two weeks of the Southern Zone bow season is written into law. Any changes that include more than the last two weeks will require changes in law. The DEC can reduce through regulation the time crossbows can be used, but cannot extend it.

Q) What type of license will you need, hunting license or bow license?
A) You will need a hunting license to use a crossbow during regular season, and a muzzleloader privilege to hunt during special muzzleloading seasons or open periods of the early bowhunting season. You do not need the bow privilege at this time.

Q)  If it was made legal to use during muzzle loader season, do I need to take the bow hunting class to use crossbows? Is a regular hunter safety course sufficient?
A) For new hunters, taking a basic Hunter Education class after April 1, 2014 is all that is required to hunt with a crossbow. For hunters who took the class before that date, there will be a document that you will have to fill out stating you read the crossbow safety information and carry that with you while hunting.   It is highly recommended that anyone wishing to hunt with a crossbow that has not taken the Bow Education class voluntarily take it as hunting with the crossbow requires skill sets that are covered in the Bow Education class that will not be covered in the Hunter Education class.

Q) I have held bowhunter privileges since I returned to NYS in 2006, and I want to verify that the bowhunter course fits the "other" category and will allow me to hunt with a crossbow.
A) You will not need to take any further “formal” classes, but will be required to read a short outline of crossbow safety, sign a document stating you read the information and carry it with you while afield.

Q) I searched for online courses that are mentioned and came up empty.
A) DEC’s training and certification procedure that you are referring to is under development and currently is not available at this time. This will be available prior to the hunting season. For general information about the use of crossbows, check out the North American Crossbow Federation: Crossbow 101 (video)at: .

Q) We are so excited to hunt with a crossbow but as you know they're very expensive and if the law won't be in effect until next year then we'd like to know so we can push off buying crossbow.
A) The information I have received from the DEC is thatthe regulations allowing use of crossbows will be implemented prior to the 2014 hunting seasons.

Q) Did the DEC already make up its mind on this? Who can we contact in the DEC or do we have to wait for the Public Comment Meetings
A) The DEC will be putting forth the proposed regulations around mid May. The proposal will be open to
public comment prior to the final adoption of the regulations. However, the regulations are expected to mirror the specific provisions enacted into law by the Legislature, and DEC does not have a lot of flexibility in what it can propose.

Q) What about the rest of the season?  Is it just part of the archery season, or all of the archery season?
A) The law only allows for the last 14 days of the early southern zone archery season and last 10 days of the early northern zone archery seasons, any firearms season that allows for the use of a shotgun or muzzleloader and all small game seasons. Crossbow use is not permitted during the beginning of the early archery seasons.

Q) Will the crossbow be legal forever and ever or is there some sort of sunset to it?
A) The law set in the budget does not contain a sunset clause.

Q) What seasons can we use them.  Gun or archery
A) Crossbows will be permitted in part of the early archery seasons and during all big game firearms seasons
that allow a shotgun or muzzleloader (except Westchester and Suffolk counties and archery only areas in Albany and Monroe counties) as well as all small game hunting seasons.

Q) Now that the use and regulations has been put back in the hands of the DEC, do they have the authority to change the legal season dates without having to go to court to do it?
A) The DEC is bound by the law. They can authorize crossbow use up to the limits set in the law. They can set
regulations below what is authorized, but cannot extend the season dates outside what was set in the law.

Q) Any way the public comment period can be used to get crossbows on Suffolk or Westchester?
A) No. The public comment period is used to assess the public’s opinion of proposed regulations. The DEC is bound by the parameters set in the law. If the people of Suffolk and Westchester Counties wish to see crossbows become a legal hunting implement they need to contact their legislators in mass and request a bill be introduced to address those counties. The DEC’s hands are tied at this point.

Q) Where can I find out more about the law pertaining to use of crossbows in New York?
A) DEC has produced a document entitled “Crossbow Guidelines for Hunters” that can be found on their website at:

Q) What does DEC think about use of crossbows for deer hunting in New York?
A) DEC’s position is clearly stated on pages 53-54 of their deer management plan where they say, “DEC supports the use of crossbows during any hunting season in which other bowhunting equipment is allowed and recommends that eligibility to hunt with a crossbow be the same as eligibility to hunt with a vertical bow.”

Rick McDermott


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