Crossbow use likely to expand

The legislature’s Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee has unanimously endorsed a bill that will increase opportunities to use crossbows in Maine. LD 1015, sponsored by Representative Steve Wood, a member of the F&W Committee, would have allowed crossbows in all seasons.

The Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, the Maine Bowhunters Association, the Maine Professional Guides Association, and the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife opposed that proposal. Ordinarily that would have been the end of it, but Steve does not discourage easily.

He came back with an amendment that would allow crossbows in the small game, turkey, and moose seasons. Five committee members supported the amendment and five opposed it. The major concern was allowing the use of crossbows in the woods during the October bowhunting season. Colonel Joel Wilkinson said that would be a problem, with hunters trying to use a crossbow illegally to hunt deer while claiming they were hunting small game. Another dead end.

But not apparently for Steve Wood. He doubled down and came up with a proposal that won unanimous committee support on May 16. It will allow crossbows in the spring turkey season and the moose seasons. It does not expand the use of crossbows into any of the deer seasons, the major concern of those who opposed the bill.

I think they could have extended the opportunity to use crossbows to the muzzleloading season on deer, but the committee actually rejected another bill that would have done just that.

The bill now goes to the House and Senate, but with the unanimous support of the committee and no opposition from DIF&W, it’s a sure thing. It will take effect 90 days after the legislature adjourns, meaning crossbows will be legal during the 2013 moose season.

George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website, georgesmithmaine.com, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. George also hosts, with Harry Vanderweide, a TV talk show called Wildfire, now in its 13th year and focused on hunting, fishing, environmental, and conservation issues. The show is owned and produced by Maine Audubon and seen on its website as well as on the Time Warner cable TV station throughout the state.