August 12, 2014 – by Craig Starr & Rich Thompson (Advisory Board Members)
Twice in recent years – in 2010 and again in 2013/14 – the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission considered opening archery season to use of crossbows by severely disabled hunters. The rifle-like characteristics of modern crossbows are simply not appropriate for use in archery seasons that are intended for use of a vertical bow where the movement associated with drawing an arrow is a major limiting factor on hunter success. Unlike eastern states with burgeoning populations of Whitetail Deer, Oregon’s deer and elk populations are below management objectives in many units and can’t support the additional harvest that would occur with crossbows in archery season. Intense opposition by portions of the hunting community caused the commission to table their considerations on both occasions.
We’ve Stopped it, But Can We Again?
While the various Oregon hunting organizations have slightly different positions on the crossbow issue, we think it is safe to say that none of us are opposed to providing reasonable hunting opportunities for severely disabled hunters where such opportunities are lacking. However, as previously discussed, the challenge we face is how additional hunting opportunities can be effectively provided for severely disabled hunters without significantly diminishing the current opportunities enjoyed by Oregon’s other hunters whether we hunt with a rifle, muzzleloader or vertical bow. The fact is that introducing a new weapon platform to Oregon’s mix of hunting opportunities must be done carefully and with lots of forethought or the result could well be reduced hunting opportunity for every Oregon hunter, not just bowhunters!
In spite of past successes keeping crossbows out of Oregon, it is quite likely that crossbows will become legal for hunting in Oregon within a few short years, if not mere months! As it stands now, Oregon is completely alone as the only state that doesn’t allow hunting with crossbows in one season or another. Anyone who thinks that Oregon can forever hold out alone against the might of the “crossbow lobby” is in for a rude awakening!
Oregon’s Crippled Deer & Elk Can’t Support Increased Harvest
The map above (originally from Bowhunter Magazine and used Aug 14 American Hunter) showing where crossbow hunting is legal across the U.S.A. The point could be made that most states wide open to crossbow hunting have and abundance of whitetail deer to the point they are a pest, carry Lyme Disease and cause millions of dollars in vehicle damage annually and that those states want dead deer. Oregon is hardly in that situation with predators, disease and habitat issues.
Disabled Hunters Deserve Legitimate Consideration
In fact, we have been told to expect that at least two (2) crossbow bills will be introduced in the 2015 legislative session. We obviously don’t yet know what approach those bills will take if introduced, but there is certainly the likelihood that they may be aimed once again at opening archery season to crossbow use for severely disabled hunters. The experience in state after state across the U.S. has been that opening archery seasons to crossbow use for a few deserving disabled hunters is the standard ruse by which crossbow advocates gain a foothold for ever wider and wider use of crossbows to the detriment of other hunting seasons. Let’s not be duped here in Oregon into believing that the “crossbow lobby” will be satisfied if only a handful of severely disabled hunters are allowed to use crossbows in Oregon’s archery season. After all, where do they make their big money in that scenario?
Where is the Crossbow Pressure Coming From?
Look at crossbow ads in print media and manufacturers websites From Parkers Lance Hanger to Stryker Crossbow’s Lo Cash Cowboys and ask yourself – Who are crossbow manufacturers targeting? The lions share of the photo layouts depict healthy, young men slogging through miserable weather in rugged mountain terrain or stuffed in brush looking like a military sniper. Women or kids may pop up once in a great while but when did you ever see a disabled (vet) in a wheel chair?
We believe real and deliberate consideration needs to be given to the crossbow issue so that the legitimate hunting interests of severely disabled individuals can be met without harm to the current archery hunting seasons and the spillover impacts that an additional crossbow harvest would ultimately have on all other Oregon hunting seasons!
Oregon Bow Hunters
Traditional Archers of Oregon