Crossbow Regulations Across North America

By Dave Dolbee published on in General, Hunting, News

Crossbow hunting is one of the fastest growing sectors of the hunting sports. Whether you are a firearm hunter looking to expand your season or looking for a new challenge to rekindle an old passion; a bowhunter who cannot draw a vertical bow due to age or injury or simply enjoy shooting crossbows, the tide is on the rise and states are responding by opening or enhancing hunting opportunities for horizontal bows.

Regulations change all the time, so a break down of last year’s hunting regulations could lead to serious omissions that would cause you to run afoul of the law. That means you will have to do a little research on your own. To make it easier, we have collected and built an easy guide to find the hunting regulations for the area you live or plan to hunt.

United States

View each state’s website to get the full details on hunting regulations.

  • Alabama – Crossbows legal for all persons during all deer hunting seasons. Magnified scopes are now allowed on crossbows only.
  • Alaska – May be used for big game or small game during general season. Permitted during archery-only season for Physically Challenged.
  • Arizona – May be used for big game or small game during general seasons and during H.A.M. (Handgun, Archery, Muzzle loader) and fishing. Permitted in archery season by the Physically Challenged.
  • Arkansas – Classified and permitted as part of the state’s archery deer season. Also permitted for small game, predators and fishing.
  • California – May be used for big game during general firearms season. Permitted for small game. Permitted in archery season by the Physically Challenged.
  • Colorado – May be used for big game during general firearms season and for small game birds. Permitted in archery season by the Physically Challenged.
  • Connecticut – May be used by the Physically Challenged during hunting season.
  • Delaware – May be used by all hunters during all archery seasons.
  • Florida – Legal in full archery season.
  • Georgia – Classified and permitted as part of the state’s archery deer season for all hunters. Also permitted in all gun and general seasons.
  • Hawaii – Permitted for big game and small game on private lands only.
  • Idaho – Permitted during the general firearms season for big game. Permitted for small game and fishing. Permitted in archery season by the Physically Challenged.
  • Illinois – A person may use a crossbow if one or more of the following conditions are met: (1) the user is a person age 62 or older (2) the user is a handicapped person to whom the Director has issued a permit to use a crossbow, (3) the date of using the crossbow is during the period of the second Monday following the Thanksgiving holiday through the last day of the archery deer hunting season (both inclusive) set annually by the Director.
  • Indiana – Classified as archery equipment and legal in all seasons for all game except migratory waterfowl.
  • Iowa – Permitted for use by the Physically Challenged during archery season.
  • Kansas – Crossbows are legal in the full archery season for hunters that are over the age of 55 and under the age of 16.
  • Kentucky – Permitted for part of archery season and all of general firearms season. Permitted for turkey. Legal in archery season for handicapped hunters.
  • Louisiana – Classified as archery equipment and legal in all seasons for all game except migratory waterfowl. Crossbows legal in archery season for hunters on Wildlife Management Areas.
  • Maine – Permitted in general firearms season for deer and bear. Permitted in archery season by the Physically Challenged. Crossbows legal for persons 16 years of age or older to hunt bear with a crossbow during the bear hunting season.
  • Maryland – The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Wildlife and Heritage Service now allows crossbows to be used to hunt any game species during any open season where a vertical bow may be used (excluding waterfowl and certain furbearers). This would permit the use of a crossbow during the entire deer bow season in all counties. Minimum draw weight is 75 pounds, telescopic sights are permitted and the crossbow must have a working safety.
  • Massachusetts – Permitted for use by the Physically Challenged by permit only.
  • Michigan – Legal for all hunters in all archery seasons except the late season in the U.P.
  • Minnesota – Permitted general use during firearms season. Permitted in archery season by the Physically Challenged. Crossbows can be used by anyone during Turkey and Bear season.
  • Mississippi – Crossbows are legal for all hunters on all state Wildlife Management Areas during all seasons. As during last year, crossbows still are legal in early archery season for handicap permit holders.
  • Missouri – Permitted during regular firearms season and in some urban areas in archery season. Permitted for fishing. Permitted for use by the Physically Challenged in archery season.
  • Montana – Permitted for regular firearms season. Permitted for small game and predators.
  • Nebraska – Crossbows are legal archery equipment for big game (deer, antelope, elk, turkey and bighorn sheep).
  • Nevada – Crossbows may only be used for hunting big game during an “Any Legal Weapon” hunt. Crossbows are not allowed for archery hunts. Crossbows must have a minimum 125 pound draw weight, minimum draw length of 14 inches from front of bow to nocking point, minimum 18 inch stock and a positive mechanical safety. Arrows must be minimum 16 inches and have a broadhead.
  • New Hampshire – Permitted general use during firearms season. Permitted in archery season by the Physically Challenged. Legal for all hunters to take a deer in the firearms season. Legal for all hunters on Long Island in Moultonborough with Long Island Deer Permit. Crossbow hunters must purchase a crossbow hunting permit.
  • New Jersey – Crossbows are legal in any bow and arrow hunting season and other hunting seasons for all species where the use of bow and arrow is allowed. Crossbows must have a minimum draw weight of 75 pounds and a minimum stock length of 25 inches.
  • New Mexico – Permitted for use during archery season by the Physically Challenged.
  • New York – Beginning in 2011, crossbows can be used only during the Regular firearms seasons in the Northern and Southern Zone, during the late muzzleloading and bowhunting seasons, and during the January firearm season in Suffolk County beginning with the 2011-2012 hunting seasons and continuing until December 31, 2012 for Deer and Bear only. Crossbows must have a stock with a working safety, minimum limb of 17 inches, minimum draw weight of 100 pounds and a maximum of 200 pounds, overall length minimum of 24 inches and arrow minimum of 14 inches.A Modified Crossbow Permit for physically challenged people authorizes the use of a crossbow modified with a device that requires no hand movement, since it is released by means of a person’s discharge of breath.
  • North Carolina – Crossbows are legal for all hunters in the full archery season. The state of North Carolina legislatures have passed and Gov. Perdue has signed on April the 28th Senate Bill 406. This act repeals the previously needed crossbow permit that was required before a person could receive, sell, purchase, or otherwise transfer a crossbow within North Carolina. Non residents of North Carolina now may also purchase a crossbow within North Carolina. Mail order firms may now also ship a crossbow to a North Carolina user. This repeal is now in place and took effect upon the signature of Gov. Perdue.
  • North Dakota – Permitted for use by the Physically Challenged during archery season.
    1. Crossbows are now legal for all hunters during the rifle season.
    2. Crossbows are now legal for all hunters during primitive weapon season. NOTE: Crossbows used during the primitive weapons season may NOT be equipped with optics that have any magnification. Only scopes and red dots with 1x magnification may be used during the PW season.
  • Ohio – Classified as archery equipment and legal in all seasons for all game except migratory waterfowl.
  • Oklahoma – Legal for all hunters during the state-wide archery season.
  • Oregon – Not recognized as a legal hunting weapon for Big Game.
  • Pennsylvania – Crossbows are legal for all hunters during all archery seasons.
  • Rhode Island – Crossbows are approved for deer hunting for all hunters during the regular archery hunting season. All crossbow hunters, after taking the required bow hunter education course, will qualify for an archery deer tag.
  • South Carolina – Classified as archery equipment and legal in all seasons for all game except migratory waterfowl.
  • South Dakota – Permitted for use by the Physically Challenged during archery season. Must have minimum draw weight of 125 pounds and a functional mechanical safety device. Telescopic sights and lighted sight pins are prohibited.
  • Tennessee – The use of crossbows is now permitted during all seasons including the regular archery season.
  • Texas – Crossbows are legal for all hunters in both the archery season and the general hunting season except in Grayson County.
  • Utah – Permitted for use by the Physically Challenged.
  • Vermont – Permitted for use by the Physically Challenged during archery season.
  • Virginia – Permitted for use during archery season.
  • Washington – Permitted for use in archery season by the Physically Challenged. Crossbows allowed for all hunters during the firearms season in firearms restricted areas.
  • West Virginia – Effective January 1, 2006 qualifying Physically Challenged hunters may obtain a Class Y permit which allows the use of crossbows for hunting in established archery seasons.
  • Wisconsin – Legal for all hunters 65 and older and the Physically Challenged during the state-wide archery season.
  • Wyoming – Permitted for use during any legal season for legal game. Permitted for fishing.

Canada

  • Alberta – Permitted for use by the Physically Challenged during archery season and during rifle season only.
  • British Columbia – Permitted during all archery seasons; considered archery equipment.
  • Manitoba – Crossbows may be used during muzzleloader deer seasons and big game rifle seasons. A hunter may not be in possession of a crossbow while hunting during archery or shotgun/muzzleloader seasons. A person hunting big game shall not be in possession of a crossbow requiring less than 150 lbs draw weight or an arrow using a broadhead less than 7/8 of an inch in width. Under the authority of a Disabled Crossbow permit, a permanently disabled archer may use a crossbow during an archery season.
  • Newfoundland – Not recognized as a legal hunting weapon.
  • Northwest Territories – Permitted during all archery seasons; considered archery equipment.
  • Nova Scotia – Crossbows are permitted during rifle season. Crossbows must have a minimum draw weight of 150lbs and broadheads must be at least 7/8 of an inch in diameter.
  • New Brunswick – Not recognized as a legal hunting weapon.
  • Ontario – Permitted during all archery seasons; considered archery equipment.
  • Prince Edward Island – Permitted during all archery seasons; considered archery equipment.
  • Quebec – Crossbows are permitted during all archery seasons; considered archery equipment.
  • Saskatchewan – It is illegal to hunt big game with a crossbow other than in an open muzzleloader or rifle season. Except in the Regina, Moosejaw, Saskatoon, Buckland and Prince Albert wildlife management zones where crossbows are permitted during all open seasons. Crossbows must have a minimum draw weight of 150 lbs and broadheads must have a cutting diameter of 7/8-inch.
  • Yukon Territory – Not recognized as a legal hunting weapon.

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Comments (2)

  • kanmac

    |

    Crossbow changes, along with deer firearm –

    TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Deer and turkey hunters in Kansas will be able to use more legal equipment during upcoming hunting seasons.

    The Kansas Department of Wildlife Parks and Tourism says deer hunters will be allowed to use any center fire rifle or handgun cartridge when deer season starts in September. Previously, hunters had to use ammunition with at least a .23 caliber bullet. Also, any gauge slugs will be allowed starting in the fall.

    KFDI reports that the state also will allow anyone to use crossbows during archery season, and radio transmitters in arrows will be legal. Previously, only people under 15, older than 55, or with physical disabilities could use crossbows.

    Turkey hunters also will be able to use any gauge shotgun, starting in the spring turkey season.

    Reply

  • Pete

    |

    Crosbows are also allowed for all hunters in Connecticut, in Zones 11 and 12 (all coastal towns and all of Fairfield county) on private land during the January archery deer season.

    There is also talk of DEEP opening crossbow hunting to all hunters statewide, But that isn’t on the books yet.

    Reply

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