Nebraska has become the latest state to allow crossbows during the regular archery season, but not without controversy.
From this story in the Lincoln Journal-Star:
_Nebraska will allow crossbows during the archery season next year in an effort to increase hunters and decrease deer. After more than an hour of public testimony Thursday, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission voted 6-3 to expand crossbow hunting. The change sharply disappointed some archery hunters who say crossbows operate more like rifles and shouldn’t be afforded the same status as bows and arrows. “Just because they have it in Michigan and Ohio and other places doesn’t mean we need to have it,” said Dick Mauch of Bassett, an 84-year-old bowhunter who testified in opposition to the change.
_But crossbows have supporters, too, mostly those who say the weapons make it easier to introduce young hunters to hunting or retain older hunters who can no longer pull a bow. “I know there’s other people in the state that will take advantage of this,” said Christopher Griffin of Papillion, who travels to Oklahoma to hunt with his crossbow. Crossbows are indeed a hybrid. They use a short, side-mounted bow with a lockable string that shoots projectiles called bolts. But they are aimed and fired with a shoulder-mounted frame that looks like a rifle and can be mounted with a scope sight. Under current regulations, hunters can use crossbows during the firearm deer season, which affords them 43 days of hunting. Hunters with verified physical disabilities may use them during the roughly 75-day archery season as well.
Starting next year, crossbow hunters will be able to use the weapons during both seasons. Jim Douglas, wildlife division administrator for Game and Parks, said he believes about 2,000 hunters will use crossbows in the archery season, although not all of them will be new. He predicted a harvest of about 1,000 deer by those hunters. Commissioners who voted for the change said the state needs to do everything it can to increase the harvest of whitetail deer in the state. Nebraska’s current high deer populations are blamed for crop losses, fatal accidents and auto damage. Rich Walters, a spokesman with the Nebraska Bowhunters Association, opposes the change on the grounds that it could degrade the archery season by allowing in too many hunters. Roughly 14,000 people buy an archery permit each year._