The thing about crossbows is that they are amazingly accurate instruments.
The users of vertical bows who look down their noses at the users of horizontal bows like to call them crossguns. They say crossbows are more like rifles than bows.
And, even though that terminology is meant as a put down, I could not agree more and that’s why I like them. I would not hesitate to shoot at a deer at 45 yards, as long as the animal was broadside and especially if it was not on alert.
It’s a very small sample size, but I have tagged three deer I shot with crossbows. As is my usual modus operandi, I went overboard and obtained two of the bows. One is the compound style with the cams and cable. The other is a recurve. Each fires bolts with almost pinpoint accuracy.
As a good friend of mine and a fellow high school graduate would say, “I wike em bof.”
You can spend a lot of money for a crossbow if you choose. I saw one costing $2,000 in a catalog. A fellow hunter told me there are crossbows that go for $3,000.
Combined, my crossbows, that came ready to shoot, cost under $1,000. I can’t imagine that a deer shot via a $3,000 crossbow would be any more dead than those I have tagged. One went 100 yards before succumbing, but the other two traveled less than half that distance.
Crossbows became legal for all hunters in Maryland for the 2010 season. In 2011, 9,504 deer (35 percent) were taken via crossbows throughout Maryland as part of the overall archery harvest of 26,929.
In 2012, the numbers were 9,378 and 27,216, or 34 percent, according to Brian Eyler, the deer project leader for the Maryland Wildlife & Heritage Service.
“That level of harvest was to be expected based upon the patterns we watched in other states such as Ohio,” Eyler said. “After Ohio introduced crossbows they slowly built in popularity.”
Eyler said he expects the percentage of crossbow kills in the overall archery harvest to increase some more.
“Their popularity hasn’t plateaued in Maryland,” he said.
Both of my crossbows are loud, though the Excalibur Axiom seems to make more noise than the Barnett Jackal.
Although the speed of sound is 1,126 feet per second and the speed of my bolts are about 315 feet per second, the deer I have shot at have not had time to duck the arrow.
However, I recognize that my three shots have been close ones, from 12 to 15 yards.
The compound (Barnett) is noticeably heavier than the recurve (Excalibur).
The recurve has a greater horizontal spread, making it difficult to use in my PHT (Pappy’s Hunting Tent), but the compound works well there. The blind is actually the Trekker T-100. I have three of them. I understand that Maryland’s wild turkeys have hired a lobbyist and are attempting to make them illegal.
Eyler said there is still sentiment among some vertical bow users that crossbows should not be allowed during archery season. “But it has waned,” he said. “We don’t hear as much of it nowadays.”
Doo wah diddy, didymo, didymo
Remember that didymo stuff? Maybe you think of it more by its street name, rock snot. Whichever name you choose, it is the algae that carpets the bottom of some trout streams and the reason the Maryland Fisheries Service outlawed the use of felt-bottomed footwear in 2011.
The agency saw felt soles as a way the microscopic rock snot cells could be transferred from one trout stream to another.
At our request, Ron Klauda of the Department of Natural Resources provided a didymo update.
“The good news is that since didymo was first reported and confirmed in the Gunpowder in early 2008, it has shown up since in only three other locations in Maryland: Big Hunting Creek (Frederick County), North Branch Potomac River (Allegany and Garrett), and the lower Savage River (Garrett),” Klauda wrote.
“The not so good news is that more than five years after didymo was confirmed in the Gunpowder, and after at least two major flooding events, it’s still there.
“... in the Gunpowder, didymo seems to be, at worst, a seasonal nuisance for anglers, with no evidence so far of adverse ecological impacts.”
Maryland Natural Resources Police Sgt. Dave Marple said this week that he and his fellow officers have not encountered many anglers violating the ban on felt soles this year.
“The first year we saw felt soles fairly frequently, but we issued only warnings because the regulation was new,” Marple said.
“Trout fishermen are for the most part people who want to do right. Every now and then we might run into somebody from out of the area who heard about good fishing on the North Branch (Potomac) and comes to try it, but didn’t know about the felt sole regulation, but I haven’t actually written a ticket for it.”