Yesterday I did something I have been intending to do for awhile but never got around to it, well at least until last night. Yup, you guessed it, I took an approved online certification course to be able to hunt with a crossbow.
Bet ya didn’t see that coming….
Crossbow Hunting Certification
Yes, here in my province, you can take an online crossbow certification course from HUNTERCourse.com which, provided you already have a Hunter Safety Certification, enables you to hunt with a cross bow.
I am not much of a hunter, although I enjoy a Fall day or two in the outdoors occasionally. I usually squeeze in a couple days deer hunting each fall and enjoy any day outdoors. I usually carry a rifle, but now I am certified to carry a cross bow. Of course, for all the game I shoot, I might as well be carrying a water pistol but I am digressing…
Hunting with a crossbow, like bow hunting with a “conventional” compound bow is becoming a popular sport in some circles. Well at least in the crossbow circles, of which I guess you could say I now in…that circle…umm…I seem to be going in circles.
However, the crossbow hunting course, was quite interesting actually, and for all intents and purposes quite comprehensive. Considering that before I started I didn’t know much, if anything about crossbows, except they looked cool.
Now I have some basic knowledge about how a crossbow works, crossbow safety techniques, different types of crossbows, and different types of “crossbow bolts” which are the arrows you shoot with crossbows.
In addition, the course featured a decent amount of basic information about deer hunting, including shot placement, tracking wounded game, and the different techniques for hunting deer.
The crossbow hunting certification course also provided a fairly indepth section on hunting tree stands, the different types of tree stands work, and deer stand safety, including the importance of the proper use of a fall arrest harness/fall safety harness when hunting from a tree stand.
At the end of the crossbow hunting course, which took about an hour or so to complete, there was a test which, I am happy to say, I passed with flying colors.
They said I was top of the class, the best student ever, numero uno, most smartest person…well actually they didn’t say any of that, but they did say, “Congratulations you passed.”
Now I a planning to buy a crossbow. I will likely go for a compound crossbow like this Barnett Jackal Crossbow Package that includes quick-detach quiver, bolts, and premium red dot sight all for about $260.00. This crossbow shoots at 315 feet per second with 150-pound draw weight.
This particular Barnett crossbow, while very good, is not an expensive crossbow. It depends on your degree of interest I guess, but you can pay much more, many crossbows, both compound crossbows and recurve crossbows run in the $600.00 – $1000.00 range.
The Barnett crossbow shown in the above picture is a compound crossbow that works on the same principle as a compound bow with pulleys. There are also recurve crossbows like this Horton Speed, Power, Simplicity Legacy 175 Recurve Crossbow – Fine laminated The Horton crossbow lists for $874.82.
Recurve Crossbow or Compound Crossbow?
Whether you buy a recurve crossbow or a compound crossbow is much a matter of individual preference.
Recurve crossbows are usually somewhat bigger, wider, crossbows which can be a little more awkward in the woods. Compound crossbows, because usually they are not as wide, are a little easier to carry through thick brush etc.
On the other hand, some crossbow enthusiasts argue that recurve crossbows are a more accurate and it is much easier to remove the bow string.
While both compound crossbows and recurve crossbows have their plus and minus points, depending on who you talk to, I am leaning toward a compound crossbow.
I like the smaller size and the mechanics of a compound bow.
Crossbow Hunting Costs
Actually, not including the cost of the course, which was minimal, and the licence, getting into crossbow hunting is not that expensive a proposition. Here is a list of the basic crossbow hunting equipment you will need:
Barnett Jackal Crossbow Package $259.00
Barnett Rope Cocking Device $15.38
Pack of 3-3 Blade Broadheads 150 Lb Crossbow$11.25
Allen Company Broadhead Wrench $4.83
Crossbow Case $26.11
Allen Company Crossbow Sling $16.99
Barnett 3-Pack Crossbow String Wax $8.41
Since most crossbow hunting is best done from a tree stand, you might as well factor the purchase of a tree stand in as well. While not entirely necessary, hunting from a tree stand can be very effective. A Guide Gear 17 1/2 foot Deluxe 2 – man Ladder Tree Stand is going to set me back about $130.00. Of course with my fear of heights, and with safety in mind, adding in a Full Body Tree Stand Hunting Safety Harness is another $30.00.
I like the idea of a two man sized tree stand so I can get Larry or Al to climb up with me. I need somebody to hold onto when I am up there…
The above prices and equipment are the basics. Of course there are differing models of crossbows, some that will set you back a good deal more than $300, different tree stands, crossbow bolts, climbing safety accessories etc. You can also add telescopic sights and rangefinders to improve your shooting.
However, using this list as a starting place for buying a crossbow, according to the items I listed above, outfitting yourself to start crossbow hunting will cost $502.97, not including tax and shipping charges and depending on where you purchase the equipment.
What Can I Hunt With A Crossbow?
A half decent crossbow, properly equipped with the right bolts and broadheads will handle just about any game you might want to hunt with the exception of flying game like ducks and partridge.
While you can in theory “still hunt” with a crossbow, Crossbows are particularly effective for deer hunting from a blind or tree stand, particularly a tree stand in wooded areas as the effective range of a crossbow is only about 40 yards.
When it comes to crossbow hunting, the closer you are to your target the better.
As I see it, crossbow hunting is a little like blackpowder hunting, where it is extremely important to make your first shot count. Crossbows are not particularly quick to load, so a second quick shot is not likely going to happen.
Comply With Your Local Regulations
Of course it is imperative that you comply with the crossbow hunting regulations in your particular area.
Not all jurisdictions allow hunters to use crossbows for hunting. Here in Nova Scotia crossbow hunting has only been allowed recently, apparently in response to hunters requesting their use be permitted.
Governments who in the past didn’t allow crossbows are now recognizing that crossbows, because of their limited range, can be safer to use in areas of high population density.
In these times of urban sprawl to country areas and car accidents and other problems caused by deer and big game living close to urban areas, being able to permit hunting closer to homes is a plus from a wildlife management perspective.
In my own conspiracy laden mind, I personally believe that there are factions within government and lobby groups that are encouraging the use of “alternatives” as a means of discouraging the use of firearms.
One drawback to encouraging the use of a crossbow from a wildlife/legal perspective is that crossbows make little or no noise when fired, making them a handy tool for criminals who shoot big game animals at night or during closed seasons.
I suppose the upside of this, if there is an upside, is the limited range of crossbows reduces the chance of an innocent person being hit by a stray shot.
Whenever you hunt with a crossbow, safety and safe handling of the crossbow are of paramount importance. Not only is there a danger of being shot with a bolt, there are other things, like being snapped in the head with the crossbow stock if the crossbow is cocked and accidently releases, even if there is no bolt loaded on the deck.
You could easily remove a finger or two should the bowstring release while your fingers are on the deck, which is the top of the crossbow. Never grip the crossbow so that your fingers on anywhere near the deck, and like any other firearm, don’t trust the safety. It just makes sense.
This can happen during careless or incorrect cocking of the crossbow, or while trying to uncock the crossbow without firing it.
Speaking of how to uncock a crossbow, for the most part, the safest, easiest way to uncock a crossbow is by firing the bolt into a piece of soft ground. This unloads and uncocks the crossbow without you having to pull on the bowstring. You should never un-cock a crossbow by dry-firing, that is, pulling the trigger without a bolt loaded.
Loaded versus Cocked versus Uncocked versus Unloaded versus Safe
It’s important to mention that when it comes to crossbows, they can be “unloaded”, that is not have a bolt/arrow loaded, but still be “cocked”. Meaning the bowstring is still drawn back to the shooting position. It could go off injuring you or a bystander, if they are standing too close to you or inadvertently touching the crossbow, particularly around the “deck” or near the string or bow. (The deck is the top of the crossbow, something like the barrel of a gun)
Tree Stand Safety
One thing the crossbow certification course emphasized is the importance of practicing tree stand safety. Apparently hunters are injured or killed from tree stand mishaps each year, with falls being the primary problem.
It’s important to use a good fall safety harness, fall arrest system, and know how to set it up and use it properly.
In the same way you practice shooting your crossbow, you should also practice setting up your treestand, using your fall safety harness and practice how you would recover from a fall. It is one thing to fall and be saved by your harness, it is quite another to get back in the treestand.
Failure to recover and get back in the stand safely could cost your life. It is something you should practice with a buddy so you know what to do should it happen. And stuff happens….