New Maine Law Expands Crossbow Hunting Opportunities

New Maine Law Expands Crossbow Hunting Opportunities

Photo credit: Crossbow Productions

Last week Maine Governor Janet Mills expanded hunting opportunities in her state by signing into law Legislative Document 27 (LD 27), "An Act to Allow the Use of a Crossbow for a Limited Duration during the Archery Season on Deer and the Fall Season on Wild Turkey." Sponsored by Rep. Tim Theriault (R-79), the bill expands crossbow hunting opportunities during the archery seasons for three years beginning in 2020.

According to the NRA Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA), “This long-awaited legislation will allow hunters the freedom to use a crossbow if they choose. Along with other pro-hunting bills supported by the NRA, LD 27 will help increase hunter participation and retention in order to preserve Maine's rich hunting heritage.” NRA-ILA was particularly grateful to Governor Mills and Rep. Theriault for their work on this new pro-hunting law.

In addition to the NRA, LD 27 was supported by many sportsmen’s and conservation groups, including the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF). In step with NRA-ILA, a recent post on the CSF website explained that the CSF had submitted testimony to Maine’s Joint Committee on Inland Fisheries and Wildlife in support of LD 27 earlier this year encouraging the expansion of crossbow use in Maine. It noted how greater opportunities likely will result in enhanced hunter recruitment, retention and reactivation, which will generate additional conservation funding for the state’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

The CSF post continued, “Crossbows have been shown to appeal to hunters who may lapse in consistent participation, thereby encouraging more regular license sales, which will serve to bolster conservation funding for the state through the American System of Conservation Funding.”

Crossbows also can be more appealing to some novice hunters who have had no previous exposure to hunting. For example, at the Quality Deer Management Association’s (QDMA) Field to Fork program in Athens, Ga., program facilitators found that some of the new adult deer hunters being recruited and mentored were not familiar with firearms and had concerns about using them afield. These same people, though, were very interested in harvesting and eating fresh, organic venison.

The solution? Crossbows, which the newbie hunters quickly learned to use proficiently. This particular Field to Fork program, a cooperative venture by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Georgia Wildlife Federation, National Wild Turkey Federation and the QDMA, has introduced over two dozen new people to deer hunting in just a few years.

And once these new recruits discovered how much they liked hunting, about 80 percent of them have continued to hunt.  The majority of these new hunters, noted program co-facilitator Hank Forester, later bought hunting rifles.

When I was interviewing him, Forester mentioned the crossbows they used and how more than half of the newbies later bought rifles to continue their deer hunting. The crossbows eased them into hunting as some were not comfortable starting off with firearms, no doubt from having been “educated” about guns via the mainstream media. (For more information, Hank Forester can be reached at [email protected].)

About the Author:
Brian McCombie is a field editor and editorial contributor for the NRA's American Hunter. He writes about firearms and gear for the NRA's Shooting Illustrated website, as well handling public relations and marketing for companies and manufacturers in the shooting sports industry. He is a member of the National Rifle Association and the National Shooting Sports Foundation. Brian likes hunting hogs, shooting 1911s chambered in 10 mm and .45 ACP, watching the Chicago Bears and relaxing with Squinchy, the orange tabby cat.

Follow NRA Hunters' Leadership Forum on Twitter @HuntersLead.