All Wisconsin hunters allowed to use crossbows this year

Crossbow season starts Sept. 13-Jan. 4

Hunting is a billion-dollar business in Wisconsin, and a change in state law will allow all hunters in the state to use a crossbow for the first time this fall.

For many years, the only hunters allowed to use a crossbow during archery season were hunters with disabilities and those over 65 years old. Now, every legal-aged hunter with a license can use one.

“This is my first time ever shooting a crossbow,” said Kevin McCallson, a traditional bow hunter. “I have been a bow hunter pretty much my whole life.”

But a recent injury is preventing him from enjoying the sport he loves so much.

“I was lifting some big, heavy weight, it fell and I grabbed it and I pulled two discs in my neck and had to have it operated on,” said McCallson. “Now I have difficulty pulling my bow back.”

Now McCallson is in the hunt for an alternative: a crossbow.

“If they are disappointed with their shoulder or elbow issues, this opens up another realm for them to hunt with,” said Anthony Schmidt, the assistant vice president of La Crosse Archery.

“With a crossbow, basically you can just point, aim like a gun and shoot, so I have the ability,” said McCallson.

This year McCallson won’t be the only one armed with a crossbow in Wisconsin woods.

“With the new crossbow law for the fall of 2014, it now allows all hunters to use a crossbow,” said Lisa Hodge Richardson, a customer service representative with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

All you need to do is make sure you get the right license.

“It’s the same price, $24, for the crossbow license as it is for the regular archery license, but they have to specifically ask for the crossbow,” said Hodge Richardson.

“It’s ethically better, I think, to have that as an option than have somebody grabbing a bow that they don’t practice and go out and stick animals and hurt them and let them run off and die,” said McCallson.

Although the sport will never be the same for traditional bow hunter McCallson, he’s just happy he can continue to participate.

“It’s just being out in the woods and hunting,” said McCallson.

There are some added technicalities if you want to hunt with a crossbow this fall.

If you are a disabled hunter or older than 65 and have been using a crossbow with a regular archer’s license, you do have to get a new crossbow license.

If you normally get a regular archers license, you can get a $3 upgrade to include the crossbow.

Finally, if you have a conservation patron license, the regular archer and crossbow licenses are included, so you do not have to purchase them separately.

If you want more information about crossbow licensing in Wisconsin, you can call 1-888-936-7463 or visit the DNR’s website.

The deer bow and crossbow hunting season starts Sept. 13 and goes through the beginning of January.