Hunter Success and Selectivity of Archers Using Crossbows

Use of crossbow equipment to hunt white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) has increased in recent years. Concurrently, beliefs about efficiency of crossbows relative to upright bows has spawned concerns among many hunters that use of crossbows during standard archery seasons will lead to overharvest and herd degradation. To examine relative efficiency of crossbows as weapons for harvesting deer, we collected 5 years (1996-2000) of deer harvest data from special hunts in southeast Oklahoma where hunters were restricted to either crossbows or traditional (recurves or longbows) archery equipment. We found that success of crossbow hunters (22.8%) was greater than success of hunters using traditional archery equipment (6.9%). We found no difference in quality of deer harvested between crossbow and traditional archers as measured by body mass, antler characteristics, and age of male deer. In addition, there were no differences in proportion of males harvested by crossbow and traditional archers. These data suggest that while crossbow archers enjoy greater success than traditional archers, they do not harvest deer of greater quality.

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