"CROSSBOWS OR COMPOUNDS- WHY NOT BOTH?" by Luke Clayton Luke Clayton With the signing of HB 968 by Gov. Perry, Texas passed a new law allowing crossbows to be used during archery season in 254 Texas counties. Grayson County is the exception, only conventional archery equipment (longbows, recurves and compounds) will be allowed here. Previously hunters could only hunt with longbows, recurves or compound bows during their special season, which opens before the general firearms whitetail season, crossbows were legal but only during the firearms season. Photo By Luke Clayton Im amazed at the controversy thats occurred over the passing of this new law. Being a long time bowhunter and on the pro staff of the largest bow manufacturer in the county, I have a pretty good feel for the pulse of the bowhunter. Until this autumn, we had the woods all to ourselves for a month BEFORE we were joined by rifle hunters. This tradition in Texas is shared by hunters from all the other states with the exception of Pennsylvania and Michigan, where crossbows are legal during archery season. Photo By Luke Clayton There is a couple of ways to look at this new law. Traditional bowhunters that oppose the use of crossbows during their special archery season often state that the crossbow is much too powerful and accurate to be allowed during the special season. Some state they shoot like a rifle and should be allowed only during rifle season. Other hunters that understand the crossbows advantages and inherent limitations have a different take. They feel that other than opening the woods up to more hunters, many of them will probably be first year novice bowhunters, the crossbow shooters will have little or no edge simply because they are shooting a weapon that remains cocked, ready to shoot all the time and doesnt need to be loaded or pulled by the hunter before the shot. About three years ago, an outdoor manufactured that was beginning a new line of crossbows approached me to help them develop what was to become the best crossbow on the market. Due to a contractual agreement with the bow manufacturer I represent, I had to decline the offer, but I did get one of my best friends, a well known outdoors writer and one of the best hunters I know, to begin shooting and testing the new line of crossbows. My buddy soon learned that the use of the crossbow was no magic bullet, or arrow. I hunted with him a great deal and learned that with the exception of the fact that the crossbow remains cocked, there was little difference in its effectiveness on harvesting game. Granted, a properly sighted in crossbow is extremely accurate out to about 40 yards, past that the trajectory of the heavy bolt falls quickly. To my way of thinking, 40 yards should be the limit for harvesting game with any archery tackle, any farther than that and the chance of wounding increases with each added yard. Shooting accurately out to fifty and sixty yards can be learned by any compound bow shooter, I can consistently keep arrows in a six inch circle at fifty yards but I would never consider shooting game at that range. There are just too many variables involved that have the potential for a bad shot. One reason for the accuracy is the heavy stock of the crossbow (similar to a rifle stock), gives stability to the shot. When shooting a compound, the archer has to learn to steady the bow before squeezing the release for the shot. When comparing the use of crossbows and compounds in a real hunting situation, both have their limitations. The crossbow is extremely loud when fired, giving the deer the opportunity to jump the string. Obviously, the motion required to draw a compound has the potential to spook game (This Ive learned from many past experiences!) In Texas, where 97% of the hunting land is privately owned, I think the use of the crossbow will make little impact. Lease hunters will either decide for or against the use of crossbows on their leases, likewise with property owners that hunt their own lands. On the State WMAs and national forests, well probably see more hunters in the woods this fall, many of them packing crossbows but, once hunters become exposed to the fact that a skilled compound shooter has an equal, or possibly better chance at arrowing his buck than a crossbow hunters, this controversy should dissipate. Im betting that in a couple years, the use of crossbows vs. compounds will become a moot point. Besides, in an era when so many anti hunting groups are actively attempting to put an end to all hunting, its my contention that we had better all get along and present a good image to the general public. Our hunting privileges depend upon it! OUTDOOR TIP OF THE WEEK- The opener of dove season is only a couple months away. Now is a great time to break out the shotgun and shoot a few clay targets at your nearest skeet, trap or sporting clays range. Or, spend about $5 for a hand thrower and $7 for a case of clay targets and plan a little impromptu shoot at the deer lease or any place where its safe and legal to shoot. Give some thought to purchasing a spinning-wing dove decoy during the summer months. You might catch them on sale! Ive found a great battery powered action dove decoy for about one-fourth the cost of most models at www.edgebyexpedite.com , click on the dove photo to see the decoy. UPCOMING CATFISH TOURNEY AT LAKE FORK- Mark your calendars for the upcoming Yantis Catfish Classic On Lake Fork, July 18-19. The event, a big catfish tournament with 7 hourly payouts each day will headquarter at the Minnow Bucket Marina. For more information, call 903-763-2191 or go online to www.lakeforksa.com to download an entry form. Entry forms also available at Bass Pro Shops and many retailers around Lake Fork. Want even more of Luke's hunting/fishing tips and tricks, wild game recipes etc? Listen to Outdoors With Luke Clayton for a new show each week at www.catfishradio.com and check out the new fishing videos at lukeshotspots.com Contact Luke at firstname.lastname@example.org The BOC has a virtual library of Luke's stories right here on the forums; just about anything you could want to read about the outdoors. Click here to see a boat load of information!