Mirroring a growing national trend in the popularity of crossbows, deer hunters in New York will be able to use crossbows during the state’s regular firearms season, thanks to a new, albeit temporary law recently signed by Gov. David Paterson.

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Legislation allowing crossbows to be used during the firearms hunting season has been signed by Gov. David Paterson. The new law gives the state Department of Environmental Conservation until Feb. 1, 2011 to come up with rules and regulations concerning the use of crossbows. It’s expected that hunters will be allowed to start using them next fall. The bill, sponsored by Sen. David J. Valesky, D-Oneida, and Assemblywoman Francine DelMonte, D-Lewiston, is actually a two-year, pilot program. It has a sunset clause of Dec. 31, 2012. At that time, lawmakers will be faced with the choice of making the law permanent, tweeking it ˆ or simply letting it lapse. _

Currently, hunting with a crossbow is not permitted unless under very limited conditions where an individual is almost completely physically disabled. The new law will allow anyone to hunt with the weapon during regular big game season when most firearms are in use. According to the bill signed by Paterson, hunters will be able to use their regular gun season tags, and their muzzleloader tags in coordination with crossbow hunting. Crossbow hunters generally will not be allowed to hunt during the regular bow season, which takes place during the month preceding the regular firearms season._

Good news for crossbow hunters, but it begs the question: are there any compelling reasons for choosing a crossbow over a rifle or shotgun during gun season?