When the 2011Nebraska Archery season opens on September 15th there will be some significant new rules in effect. The two most notable rule changes don’t come without controversy.
The most significant and controversial change will adopt the crossbow as a legal weapon for all sportsmen. Before last season, crossbows were limited to handicap and disabled sportsmen that first had to obtain a letter from a doctor that documented the sportsmen’s need to use a crossbow.
Crossbows are now legal for all archery seasons for all sportsmen in Nebraska
The Nebraska Traditional Archers (NTA) has taken a firm stance against crossbows. The following statement was taken from their website. “The NTA does not consider the conventional crossbow nor the compound crossbow to be legitimate hunting bows and will not permit their use, or possession at any NTA event or gathering. The NTA considers the use of any type of crossbow during any bowhunting season to be the most serious threat that the future of bowhunting has ever faced. The NTA strongly encourages all sportsmen to boycott the products of companies engaged in the manufacture, distribution, sales or promotion of crossbows, and to express their dissatisfaction directly to these companies at every available opportunity.”
An effort last year by the Nebraska Bowhunters Association (NBA), Nebraska’s largest and most politically engaged bowhunting organization asked the Nebraska Wildlife Commissioners to table the vote but it fell on deaf ears. The commission allowed the use of crossbows during rifle and muzzleloader seasons last year and now they have opened up the use of crossbows in 2011 by making it a legal weapon during the archery seasons for all big game in the state.
I asked long time NBA member and Vice Chairman Bryce Lambley what the NBA’s official stance on the inclusion of crossbows to the Nebraska archery season and he said, "The NBA has, since its inception, opposed the inclusion of crossbows in the regular archery season, and has urged stricter compliance with handicapped provisions. Most of our members do not oppose crossbows as a hunting tool, they just don't feel they belong in the same general season as compound and traditional bows and arrows because the skills needed to shoot them are vastly different."
Bow hunters in Nebraska will now share the woods with crossbow hunters but rifle hunters will have to do the same with bowhunters now
The other big change will allow bowhunters to hunt along side of rifle hunters during the 2011 rifle season which opens on the second Saturday of November. Hunter Orange will be required to be worn by bowhunters just as it is for the rifle hunters during the nine day season. Many Nebraska bowhunters have been clamoring for this change for a long time. The timing of Nebraska’s rifle season tends to coincides with the rut so sitting on the sidelines for nine straight days has often been a bone of contention for many a Nebraska bowhunter.
Nebraska has expanded their elk seasons due to rising populations
The state of Nebraska offers diverse opportunities for bowhunters with plentiful populations of turkey, whitetail deer, mule deer, and antelope. There are even elk and bighorn sheep seasons but those seasons are limited to resident lottery draws except for one big horn sheep opportunity that is auctioned off. Lottery and auction fees have helped Nebraska raised over $800,000 dollars for the bighorn sheep program. This year’s auction set a record by going for $117,500 to a German business owner. The previous record bid for a Nebraska sheep hunt was $87,500 in 1998.