West Virginia and Vermont May Change Archery Seasons to Accommodate Crossbow Hunters

Lawmakers in West Virginia and Vermont are considering doing away with the medical exemption currently required to carry a crossbow during the regular archery season. The states are not proposing exactly the same change: Vermont is considering an extension to the regular season and the use of crossbows by any hunter during that season, while West Virginia is proposing the use of crossbows during any hunting season and an additional crossbow-only season.

According to Sen. Robert Karnes (R-Upshur) in the Charleston Daily Mail, about 22,000 of these medical exemptions have been granted in West Virginia, so permission to use a crossbow is already pretty easy to secure if you want it. Vermont currently has 6,000 crossbow users operating under their state's exemption policy, out of a total 20,000 archery licenses, according to Vermont Public Radio.

The proposed changes were prompted by hunter demand, but many bowhunters do not consider crossbows to be in the same category as traditional or compound bows and are not supportive of the move. Roy Kilburn, president of the Vermont Bowhunters Association, says that crossbows "should not be used in the archery season. We think that it should be a separate season with a separate license." Public hearings will be held in March to discuss changes to Vermont’s archery season and the Fish and Wildlife board will vote in April.

Ed McMinn, former president of the West Virginia Bowhunters Association, agrees with Kilburn and supports the proposed bill in his home state, because it would designate a separate season for crossbow hunting. The current bill, which was approved by members of the Senate Natural Resources Committee and now moves to the Judiciary Committee, requires the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources to create a special season of unspecified length.