Wisconsinites have been cleared to hunt with crossbows under certain hunting licenses.
2011 Act 252 expands the types of weapons that may be used under the authority of the regular (gun) deer, elk, spring and fall wild turkey, small game, and Class A bear hunting licenses, to include the use of a crossbow, and in the case of the regular (gun) deer license, the authority to use a bow and arrow. It is no longer a requirement that a person must be at least 65 years old or be disabled and hold a crossbow permit in order to hunt with crossbow under the authority of any of these licenses.
This new authorization took effect on April 21, 2012.
What has not changed is the type of weapons authorized for hunting under the “archery” hunting license. A crossbow still can only be used to hunt deer or small game under an archery license by a person who has attained the age of 65 or who holds a permit that authorizes the use of a crossbow.
What is new is when there is an open season for hunting any species with a firearm, a person with the appropriate license that allows them to hunt that species with a firearm, may now also hunt that species with crossbow and a bow and arrow during that open season. This means a person may use a crossbow or bow & arrow to hunt deer under the authority of a regular (gun) deer hunting license during any firearm deer season, including the muzzleloader-only deer season. It also means that any person hunting bear or turkey under the appropriate license, or small game under a small game-hunting license, may also use a crossbow, bow and arrow or firearm to hunt those species authorized under that license.
Crossbows used for hunting any species under any license must meet the minimum draw weight of 100 pounds, have a working safety, and be used with bolts or arrows of not less than 14 inches in length with a broadhead.
It is important to remember, during the archery deer season or a small game season when a person is hunting under only the authority of an archery hunting license, a person still cannot hunt deer or small game with a crossbow unless the person is authorized under a disabled permit to use a crossbow or is age 65 or older.