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Crossbow

Jim Druliner of Omaha poses with a gobbler he shot with a crossbow during the 2018 Nebraska archery spring wild turkey hunting season in Dawson County.

GREG WAGNER

A seemingly growing number of hunters have added another piece of legal archery equipment to their repertoire — the modern crossbow.

I enjoy hunting with a crossbow, and it is not as easy as it may seem. The crossbow hunter must possess the same abilities, knowledge, woodcraft and nearly all of the same shooting skills as the conventional compound bow hunter.

Many avid crossbow hunters will tell you that one advantage of the crossbow is that you do not have the added movement of raising higher and drawing back a vertically based compound, recurve, stick or longbow. No drawing motion exists. You can simply crank or pull the string, pre-cock and load a bolt with a broad head in the crossbow once in your blind or at your hunting spot. With the drawing motion excluded, the prone shooting position becomes possible with crossbow hunting. This opens up new ambushing locations, such as grassy fields.

The newer crossbows have sleek designs that allow for minimal movement. They are not cumbersome in blinds and are quite maneuverable with your back against a large tree. I have found that crossbows allow for nice, comfortable shots with three points of contact established with no difficulty. Assisted stability without the use of muscles allows for longer holding times on target. With muscle fatigue not a factor, tighter shooting groups will result.

With crossbows ranging in price from about $400 for an entry-level model to as much as $2,600 for a precision-engineered, high-performance model, a growing number of turkey and deer hunters are enjoying the modern crossbow. In Nebraska last year, crossbow hunters harvested 22 percent of all deer taken on a statewide archery deer permit.

With the assistance of that easy-pull device or a crank, you can cock your crossbow with little effort. This allows small-framed individuals, especially kids, physically challenged and older hunters with permanent shoulder, joint or upper body disorders an opportunity to be in the field during an archery hunting season in Nebraska that they otherwise may have missed.

Hunters, such as myself, who have difficulty pulling back a compound bow due to some shoulder issues can continue to hunt during these archery seasons, thanks to the modern crossbow.

With its historical flair from the Middle Ages, the modern crossbow is now enabling youths to hunt the archery turkey seasons at a much younger age. At least with a crossbow, a shot can be steadied with the assistance of a rest. Additionally, some youngsters may not participate in a hunt because they fear the recoil and loud bang of a gun or are unable to pull back and hold a compound bow. The crossbow eliminates these problems because of an easy-loading device, cocking apparatus and a much calmer fire.

Crossbows are introducing more kids to hunting and keeping them there.

Greg Wagner is a public information officer in the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission’s Communications Division. Contact him at greg.wagner@nebraska.gov.

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