Cumberland Times-News


September 4, 2012

Crossbows in W.Va. just a matter of time

It is time to get moving. West Virginia bow season opens for deer and bear on Sept. 29, the earliest regular archery opener ever.

This is a good time to visit an old question that comes up every fall. Should crossbows be legal to hunt with in West Virginia? Well, in fact they are legal hunting weapons, under certain circumstances.

Several years ago West Virginia inaugurated the Class Y and YY permits for hunting with a crossbow during the established archery seasons. These permits are designed to assist hunters who have a physical impairment which renders them unable to use a conventional bow and arrow.

On the surface, I agree with that philosophy.

When these permits first came out, a friend of mine, who was 80, obtained one. That very fall he hunted out of a ground blind with that crossbow and killed two deer. Killing two deer in October when you are 80 is a good deal no matter how you shake it. So the Class Y permit opened up an opportunity for my friend that definitely was good for his quality of life.

However it seems that anytime you offer a service or opportunity to just one segment of society there are those who are going to take advantage of things, even if they do not fit into that segment. So despite the physical requirements involved with getting a Class Y (or YY which is just the nonresident equivalent), there will always be folks who will be able to have one because they are willing to lie, or because they have an agreeable doctor who will sign the forms.

    The application form for the crossbow hunting permit says that the applicant must certify he has a “permanent and substantial physical impairment” that keeps him from using a regular bow. Those are pretty strong words.

The back of the form lists the tests that the doctor is to perform to determine the level of impairment. I would guarantee that most men my age, being well past 50, could meet the basic requirements for the Class Y. But are the normal creaking joints and stiff shoulders of old age really a substantial impairment, given what some folks deal with every day? I don’t think so.

According to Lt. Col. Jerry Jenkins of the Natural Resources Police there have been 16,270 Class Y and 1,235 Class YY crossbow permits issued, as of the middle of August.

As my grandma would have said, that’s a right smart amount. Just for grins I took the resident figures, divided them by the 55 counties in the state and came up with a figure of nearly 300 crossbow hunters per county.

So look, why can’t we just make it legal for everyone to hunt with a crossbow during the archery season?  If it is good enough for the old guys with creaky joints why not a young and strong hunter who just wants to try something new?

I think they are a neat weapon. I would get one myself but they are pretty expensive and I am not enough of a deer hunter to justify the money. Still, I can see where an avid whitetail chaser would like to add a different dimension to his hunting season.

Not everyone shares my view. The West Virginia Bow Hunters Association has been involved in hunting issues for years, including the crossbow question.

The group’s president, Bryan Elkins, advised me that the WVBA does not oppose the use of crossbows by people with disabilities. He did say, however, that “WVBA does oppose the expansion of the use of crossbows to those without disabilities in the archery season.” The WVBA apparently looks at the crossbow as more of a gun than bow, citing the use of scopes, increased range and, something I had not considered, the fact that they can be fired at game with very little movement on the part of the hunter.

Given these concerns, Elkins said, “The added effectiveness of the crossbow causes the WVBA to be concerned about the damage that could be done to the whitetail deer resource should the use of the crossbow be expanded.”  

Points well stated by an organization whose active track record through the years always carries some weight with the Natural Resources Commission.

But honestly I think it is just a matter of time before West Virginia opens this up to everyone. Remember back to the 1980s when muzzleloaders were restricted to flintlock, on state land, for only one day? Probably some people were worried about killing too many deer then too, yet now we have a week to hunt with things that do not even resemble a traditional muzzleloader. That type of expansion will probably come for crossbows.

Which brings up the question of, where do we stop? I picked up a set of Alabama hunting regulations while on vacation. During their archery season you can, I kid you not, hunt with a spear for deer and feral swine. Now that’s primitive.

There is no mention as to whether a blaze orange loin cloth is required during this activity.

Dave Long is a retired West Virginia natural resources police officer and a frequent contributor to the Outdoors page.

Text Only
  • Happy Easter

    For the world’s more than 2 billion Christians, Easter is the day that defines their faith.
    The exact date of Christ’s resurrection is unknown, and even the precise locations of his crucifixion and burial are uncertain. This hasn’t stopped some people from saying they know the answer to these questions and others from trying to find out for themselves, or simply arguing about it.

    April 20, 2014

  • Odds are good that you didn’t know this

    Odds or Probabilities fascinate many people. There is a special website called and an accompanying location on Facebook at /BookofOdds .This website lists 400,000 odds. Three of the people who are involved in this media display have coauthored a book, “The Book of Odds” that presents some of key odds, drawing from polls and statistics published in journals. The authors are A. Shapiro, L.F. Campbell and R. Wright. This paperback was published this year by Harper Collins with ISBN 978-0-06-206085-3.

    April 20, 2014

  • Trivial questions you don’t have to answer

    Every so often in this life, my mind, all on its own, generates questions that have no real answers. So I have decided to pass them on to you. I’m tired of them. If you come up with any answers, let me know. Remember when TV jealously guarded the time zone before 9 p.m. for wholesome shows that children could watch. My gosh, how many years ago was that? It seems like another world nowadays, when you can see murders, torture and rape, or those implied, every hour on the hour, somewhere on your public screen. It might be comforting then, to remember that most children nowadays are glued to their little machines with whole different worlds on them, that they can access all day long. Except that in these different worlds they also can view murders, torture and rape on demand.

    April 20, 2014

  • Think it’s not a small world? You’re wrong

    Yes, you read that right in the paper a couple of weeks ago. I covered a wedding as a newspaper reporter. I’ve retired from doing regular stories because my primary duties lie elsewhere, and I don’t have the time or mental energy for it. But I agreed to do it for a couple of reasons, one of which goes back more than 40 years. The former proprietor of The Famous North End Tavern told me about a wedding that was to take place at the Lions Center for Rehabilitation and Extended Care, where his wife works.

    April 20, 2014

  • No Bambi for you, Mrs. Doe

    Some people want so badly for deer birth control to work that they actually think it will, even on wild populations.
    I wish I had a couple bridges to sell.
    A week ago on the Outdoors page we ran the deer there do what deer  everywhere do. They eat the easiest food available such as gardens and ornamental plantings. They walk in front of moving cars. They give ticks and  parasites a place to live.

    April 19, 2014

  • We concur We concur

    We’re certain that Donald Rumsfeld, who served as Secretary of Defense under Presidents Gerald Ford and George W. Bush, echoes what many Americans feel about the complexity of filing income tax returns.
    When he filed his return, Rumsfeld sent the following letter to the Internal Revenue Service:

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Library week

    Public libraries remain one of the best uses of taxpayer dollars. They are open to all. Young or old, poor or wealthy, residents can use computers and read current magazines and newspapers. Compact discs featuring a wide variety of music and
    movies on DVD may be checked out in addition to novels and other books.

    April 13, 2014

  • Terps need to move and move quickly

    The good news is Maryland will never have to play another basketball game in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Goodbye, good riddance, sayonara, smell ya, no more of you, stay classy, we won’t let the door hit us on the way out.
    Until we see you in court.

    April 13, 2014

  • Sunday hunting Sunday hunting

    Legislation that increases hunting oppportunities on Sundays in Garrett, Allegany and Washington counties has passed the Maryland General Assembly and reached the governor’s desk.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • You’ll never guess who the real hero was (He was six feet tall and bulletproof)

    Most folks know about the 20th Maine’s bayonet charge that repulsed the Rebels at Little Round Top because they watched the movie, “Gettysburg.”
    Capt. Gary and First Sgt. Goldy post ourselves a hundred yards or so away from where it happened in real life. Tourists frequently ask us how to find it.

    April 13, 2014