Crossbow hunters may be able to resume hunting in New York State as soon as this fall now that the new state budget, which was recently approved, legalizes the use of crossbows for hunting small and big game.

Now the state Department of Environmental Conservation will regulate their use. Crossbow hunting will be approved, except on Long Island and Westchester County, for hunters 14 years of age or older.

The DEC will write new regulations and hold a public comment period, then after considering the comments, the DEC will finalize the regulations.

“As per the recently signed law, crossbows may only be used during the last 10 days of the Northern Zone early archery season and the last 14 days of the Southern Zone early archery season,” said Emily DeSantis, a DEC spokeswoman.

Download the DEC’s Guidelines for Crossbow Hunters here.

According to news reports here and here:

The approved budget legislation made crossbows legal in most of the state, but banned them in Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester counties. In addition, the legislation only will allow their use during the last 10 days of the early archery season in the Northern Zone, and last 14 days of the early archery season in the Southern Zone.

The early archery season in the Northern Zone is three weeks long; the Southern Zone season, nearly six weeks.

New York Bowhunters Inc., a bowhunting group that’s pushed hard to keep crossbows out of the archery season, has said it believes a crossbow is not a bow and is closer to a firearm.

But Rick McDermott of Pulaski, chairman of the New York Crossbow Coalition said the legislation came out the way it did was the result of a strong grassroots effort by Upstate supporters and compromise among the state’s lawmakers. The governor’s support was also a big plus.

“What happened is we were able to convince enough people Upstate to talk to their legislators, who in turn made a request to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver that there should be something in the budget for crossbows – at the very least some kind of compromise,” McDermott said.

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