2013 Wisconsin Crossbow Bill – Upated May 30, 2013, June 6, 2013

Update – March 9, 2014 Wisconsin DNR Cancels Disabled Hunter Permits

Update December 13, 2013 Crossbows Are Legal in Wisconsin 2014

Update September 18, 2013 Wisconsin Senate Passes Crossbow Bill

Update August 12, 2013 Wisconsin Senate schedules public hearing

Update June 6, 2013  Crossbow bill passes Assembly

Updated May 30, 2013

Wisconsin Assembly Bill 194, and Senate Bill 185 if passed in both houses and signed by the Governor would make it legal for anyone who has taken hunter education or bowhunter education to deer hunt with a crossbow or xbow as they are sometimes called.

Not all crossbows have cables and pulleys.  A recurve crossbow is more challenging to hunt with than a modern compound bow.

Not all crossbows have cables and pulleys. A recurve crossbow is more challenging to hunt with than a modern compound bow.

Education is probably a good idea since many believe the myth that a crossbow is an all powerful weapon capable of shooting vast distances with very little marksmanship practice. (this is the argument made by those who oppose crossbows)

The bill would:

  •  Eliminate the requirement a hunter be over 65 or disabled in order to use a crossbow.
  • Require a separate crossbow license but only allow one buck to be taken with a hunter’s choice of archery equipment.  This license would allow the taking of all species as is currently the case with the archer’s license.  For $2.25 more the license could also allow a bowhunter to use a longbow, recurve, modern compound or crossbow; making it a “bowhunter’s choice” license.
  • Hunters who choose the crossbow would be allowed to hunt during Wisconsin’s regular bow season from mid September thru the first week of January.

Sponsors of AB 194 are Representatives Czaja, Danou, A. Ott, August, Ballweg, Bewley, Born, Brooks, Endsley, Hesselbein, Jacque, Jagler, Kleefisch, Kuglitsch, T. Larson, Milroy, Murphy, Mursau, Murtha, Petryk, Smith, Spiros, Strachota, Swearingen, Tittl, Tranel, Vruwink and Wright. It was also cosponsored by Senators Farrow, L. Taylor, Lassa, Petrowski, Schultz, Tiffany and Lehman.

Crossbows kill with arrows making them no different than any other archery equipment.

Crossbows kill with arrows making them no different than any other archery equipment.

Before anyone gets too excited about using a crossbow in 2013 be aware that as of this writing there is no Senate version of AB194 and this point is crucial.  On a variety of issues in the past if there is no bill in both houses and only one passes a bill without a companion bill in the other house; in the end nothing happens and the process must start all over again in the next legislative session.  So if you want this passed into law and effective for the fall of 2013 make sure you contact your state senator to get a senate version introduced.


Update 5/30/13  Senate Bill 185      fiscal estimate from WDNR

SB185 opens any archery season to crossbows- Section 1.  29.014 (1m) (b) of the statutes is amended to read:

SB185,2,62 29.014 (1m) (b)  If the department establishes an open season for hunting deer, elk, small game, wild turkey, or bear with a bow and arrow but not with a firearm, the department shall also open that season for hunting with a crossbow.
Introduced by Senators Farrow, L. Taylor, Lassa, Petrowski, Schultz, Tiffany, Lehman, Olsen and Hansen, cosponsored by
Representatives Czaja, Danou, A. Ott, August, Ballweg, Bewley, Born, Brooks, Endsley, Hesselbein, Jacque, Jagler, Kleefisch, Kuglitsch, T. Larson, Milroy, Murphy, Mursau, Murtha, Petryk, Smith, Spiros, Strachota, Swearingen, Tittl, Tranel, Vruwink, Wright and Tauchen.



  1. Dave says

    Your story is no correct on a few fronts.

    1. A senate version has been released a while ago and is in the works. SB-185

    2. You state “Hunters who choose the crossbow would be allowed to hunt during Wisconsin’s regular bow season”. this is also false, They would be hunting during the new crossbow season.

    3. You said “AB194 would make it legal for all bowhunters to choose a crossbow or any other archery equipment.” They will not be bowhunters. Last year WI statute was created to define what is a bow and what is a crossbow and by extenion what is a bowhunter and what is a crossbower. (I assume these folks will adopt the term “Crossbower” or “crossbow hunter” Since bowhunter is already taken and is a specific term that means something specific (and was coined in WI in the 1930’s by Roy case.

    I think its good that these folks will have a separate crossbow season not linked to bowhunting. Bowhunters share the woods with al manner of non-bowhunters so I assume adding crossbowers into the mix wont negatively effect bowhunting in WI.

    • says

      Thank you for bringing SB 185 to my attention. The bill’s fiscal estimate was delivered from the WDNR on 5/28/13, so please forgive me for not including it the post I wrote. It has been corrected.
      As I read AB 194 and SB 185 it seems clear there will be a separate license but not a separate season. Please feel free to quote from the bill to correct me.

      Until my shoulder wore out I was a lifelong stick and string bowhunter, not a pulley and cable guy; I remember many archers (Roy Case) of those long ago days refused to consider a compound hunter a bowhunter and unfortunately the old attitudes are forever new.

      All bows including vertical and horizontal cast an arrow to kill so it really does not matter which a hunter chooses, we are all bowhunters.

    • tj says

      I say NO to crossbows for healthy people. If you want to be a hunter then learn to hunt the way bow hunters have since bow hunting began. Using a cross bow is like shooting a gun. Scopes can be used on them you don’t even have to pull the string. This is what hunting is.Learn to spot deer, how the wind can help.

      See if you are capable to draw back your bow without spooking the deer. Can you hold it back long enough before you can get the KILL shot & not just wound the deer. The best part of bow hunting is scouting the area. learn to track, witch way is the deer coming from. There are many other things you can do. Get out there like a man and learn the right ways. You will enjoy the hunt more then ever even if you miss, drop your arrow make a noise….etc

      • says

        The only thing a crossbow has in common with a rifle is the stock and the crossbow stock is very different in design from a firearm. Scopes with range finders are routinely used by shooters of compound bows as are triggers, strings to launch the arrow, limbs and sometimes pulleys.

        Your assumptions are most insulting to handicap and older hunters, they are not second rate hunters.
        A crossbow is a “bow” requiring all the skills of a bowhunter to kill a deer. The ability to get close while remaining undetected, arrow placement and tracking skills to recover game.

        You also insult all the ladies who are taking up hunting i.e.

        “Get out there like a man and learn the right ways.”

        I have never understood those hunters who advocate “my way or the highway”. What difference does it make what a hunter is killing their deer with over on the next 40?

  2. says

    You are both right and both wrong. Crossbows will be legal to use for deer hunting on the same dates that compounds and traditional bows are used. This is a separate, but concurrent season. Only one tag will be issued for a buck and one for a doe. You can’t double dip a with two licenses. The objective of the bill is to build on our family hunting tradition. Now not only hunters of strength will bow hunt , but they can now share the experience with, youth , women and men of less strength, handicapped, disabled and anyone with a love of hunting deer. Physical strength will not be the qualifying issue. It is estimated this bill will add millions in revenue and may jobs. There are 7 companies in Wisconsin that make crossbows and parts. They have stated they will expand to meet the demand. DNR contact Thomas Van Hearn has gone on record that crossbows are expected to be a positive for hunters and deer management alike.

    • says

      If the bill is passed as currently written it mandates that if a season is opened for archery then crossbows must be allowed. To my way of thinking that is hunting during the same season. For spin purposes I suppose you could call a “concurrent season” a separate season since a separate license is required. But all archery hunters will hunting at the same time.
      A true separate season would have its own tag and bag limit- then for example, a deer hunter could kill 3 bucks, 1 regular archery, 1 crossbow and 1 gun.

  3. Dave says

    You say “All bows including vertical and horizontal cast an arrow to kill so it really does not matter which a hunter chooses, we are all bowhunters.”

    You would like to think so but no. You will be a crossbower or a crossbow hunter. You will not be a bowhunter. You are also incorrect about Roy Case and his attitude towards compounds.

    WI statute definens what is a bow and what is a crossbow and what is a bowhunter and what is the name you guys will invent for what it is you are doing with your crossbow. I understand the desire to want to be called a bowhunter but that wont happen.

    As to the bill. Expect it to be amended prior to signing into law. Again, dont get me wrong, I think its a great thing that crossbowers are going to get a seprate seaon for themselves and that bowhunting will remain unchanged.

    • says

      What do all of the following have in common?
      Self bow, long bow, recurve bow, compound bow, cross bow…

      What will the users do with them?

      Bow + hunt = Bowhunter

      • Ted Nugent says

        Crossbowing is NOT bowhunting. A true bow hunter needs to develop the skill to deliver a kill shot at an animal at relatively short distances, DRAW the bow during an approaching animal ,HOLD the draw as the animal approaches and use his/her develped skill to deliver a kill shot at a distance only the bowhunter is confident with. None of these skills is required to hunt an animal with nothing more than a finger on the trigger, raise and shoot. Crossbowing is not archery and never will be…..!

        Like most other issues, this law is being pushed by lobbyists supporting crossbowing equipment with money being the driving factor. If crossbowers want to hunt – FINE, just don’t cloque it under the desguise of a true bowhunter. Get your own season, don’t destroy an institution enjoyed by bowhunters for over 50 years. The passage of this law will be bad for Wisconsin Hunting.

        • Duane says

          REALLY??? What ‘bad’ can come from bringing more people into the hunting world? If a crossbow allows more people to take up the sport of hunting, itsn’ that a good thing? I’m sure a lot of people against this for the same reasons you are use a compound bow…….how is that “the institution enjoyed by bowhunters for 50 years” since compounds weren’t around the first 20 years of that time frame……….you call yourself a “true bowhunter”…..ALL the research I’ve done indicates to hunt with a ‘true’ bow vs. a crossbow is VERY similar…..still have to be close, in fact I’ve read that a lot of the newest compounds are more accurate over a longer distance than a crossbow, so who is at a disadvantage??? It’s still HUNTING……….if you don’t think so, then should we outlaw using guns since that is WAY easier???

        • dale says

          they already mest up bow hunting by having early gun and youth hunts during bow season so where is the fairness in that

  4. Dave S. says

    Well Dave you say that Crossbow hunters cant be called bow hunters that name is taken that sounds like a 3 year old kid.
    When bow hunting started it was with a recurve bow no sights no release. Today the new compound bows have sights and can have scopes you have releases they shoot faster and farther then the crossbows do and if you miss with a bow you have a chance of a second shot as with a crossbow they are nosier and harder to cock so there will be no second chances. It would be nice if the people that don’t want the crossbows would get there facts about crossbows before they start crying about there bow hunting.
    The muzzle loader season started out to be open breach and no scopes now we have inline guns and scopes with guns that shoot over 200 yards things change. But now that it is your bow hunting your crying like babies.
    The only thing that bother most so called bow hunters is the Rut that belongs to them that is why they want a separate season for hunting with a crossbow. Here is a question for you people the bow season starts the middle of September and runs till January when should the crossbow season be. When the fawns are being born or raised in the summer come on people get real things change with time go along with it or get left behind.

  5. Marsh hunter says

    So called bow hunters griping about crossbows makes me chuckle. They say it is not a real or traditional bow, really, com’on most of you are using a compound bow, hardly a traditional bow. I hunt with recurve and compound think it’s great we may actually get the opportunity to use crossbow during the crazy days of the season. My take on the opposition goes in line with opinions of other supporters, but also believe alot of the opposition hunts public land and the added competition frustrates them. I do hunt some public land and have for close to 25 years, and I got to say some of the fellow bow hunters act like they own the land. I’ve listened to some pretty vicious talk when some is detected or suspected to have been in “their area”. Truth is cross bow has its advantages and disadvantages, but total distance and accuracy combined the compound bow wins. Bottom line if you want to use the argument traditiinal bows of our ancestors, go out get you a stick weave some hair together chip a stone put it all together take your harvest. I will then sure sway to your side.

    • Ted Nugent says

      Your pathetic argument never touches on the DRAW and HOLD aspect of bowhunting. This fact of true bowhunting is independent of any technology used to project the arrow. A true bowhunter knows this to be true and this element of bowhunting makes the sport what it is – a developed skill not some schmuck sitting up in a tree with his/her finger on the trigger.

      Until you crossbowhunters can require a DRAW and HOLD crossbow, get out of the woods during archery season!

      • You insult Ted Nugent by using name says

        You want to talk about DRAW and HOLD when using a compound bow?!?!?! The compound bow holds it for you when you pull it all the way back. A 3 year old could hold the draw on your compound bow for a week without getting tired!! AND THEN, you pull the TRIGGER on your string release, right?!?!
        Crossbows are harder to hunt with, and even the real Ted Nugent would know that. I don’t care either way if this bill is passed, because hunting with a crossbow is HARDER, not easier, than hunting with a bow. If this bill passes, you should get out and try crossbow hunting, you’ll probably hate it, cause it’ll be to hard for you. You’ll want to go back to easy hunting with your compound bow…. You’re making a disgraceful display here, and I’m truly embarrassed for you, and Ted Nugent since you’re using his name.

        • Mike says

          I don’t think Ted is refering to the amount of effort required to draw and hold the bow, but rather the fact that it must be drawn without alerting the deer and then shot without the aid of a supporting rest.

          So how is using a crossbow so tough? You must be refering to the effort required to cock it…

  6. Duane says

    So Ted, do you use a recurve or a compound………IF it’s a compound, you sound REALLY stupid with your argument since the compound bow holds a distinct advantage of your DRAW and HOLD!!! And, as stated, the compound bow user (of which I am) holds an advantage over a cross bow with distance AND accuracy over that distance…………your argument is full of holes.

  7. jim says

    Well with all the talk about crossbows, I say that really what’s it going to really hurt, ive used a compound bow for 25 years now and have loved every god giving second that ive practice with it and the time ive spent in the woods hunting with my compound bow, but what comes to mind is all the wounded animals that have run off because of bad shots! Another thing that comes to mind wouldn’t it be great for the older generation that used to use compounds that caint use them any more cause maybe they caint hold steady or even draw a bow back! I say its time for a change and yes there should be certain rules and regulations that come with crossbows, it would overall make the hunter get to choose what wepon he or she should get to hunt with, and maybe some of the people that never got to get a wall mounter will give them s chance to finally get a chance at one maybe because remember you still have to out smart that deer or whatever your hunting within range for the correct shot that is needed to humanily kill the animal that is being hunted, in my opinion why not have a change in Wisconsin, and give the choice to the hunter what he would like to use as wepon of choice to hunt with .

  8. Dave R says

    Let’s just make all the so-called “bowhunters” who oppose crossbows happy and outlaw compound bows and all attachments, rests, sights, releases, etc, that have been invented voer the past 50 years. And, yes UI can say “so-called” because I hunted and shot tournaments with a bow for almost 50 years. From a Shakespeare straight bow to a hot-rock PSE, I owned and shot a lot of’em. They’re all gone, because both shoulders went completely to hell. It was enough to make me cry to realize the days I spent in the woods bowhunting were over. But, I didn’t qualify for a crossbow because I was well under 65 and only had severe pain with a little loss of strength. Not enough to qualify for a CB.

    So, for the last few years I did shoot, I’ll match my tough guy status against all of you wusses who bowhunted and didn’t feel like your arms were being ripped out of your shoulders every time you took a shot. Not to mention the hours of practice.

    Arguing over the tiniest details or semantics of who is called what, or should it be a separate license, or whatever, makes me sick. The ANTI’s (yes, I used that word) are a bunch of whiny little children. I’m sorry, but I really hope I don’t know any of you, because I would be embarrased to admit it.

    I was a VERY good archer and bowhunter. If given the chance, I will become a VERY good crossbow hunter. And, may it plesae the court, since the FACTS (yes, they are pesky things) destroy EVERY, SINGLE argument made by anti’s against crossbow hunting, I rest my case.

  9. Randy says

    I seldom participate in discussions like this because it’s so sad that all of us HUNTERS want to hurt the others who prefer to use a different style of weapon. I’m 65 and have hunted with an old Bear recurve as a youngster and loved it before graduating to a PSE compound many years later. Funny, the same cries of foul were heard then from recurve hunters. As bows became lighter and faster and easier to hold (70-80 percent let off) and sights grew, some bitched about that saying it wasn’t fair. Now, here we go again…”true bowhunters” shoot only recurves, not compounds if you look at what traditional means. Thanks to diabetes, a kidney transplant after a year of 12 hours a week hooked up to a machine that cleaned my blood and allowed me to live another day, I was forced to go to a crossbow and the joy of being in the woods was extended two years after about a year and a half in hell.. Now, I no longer can walk so hunting is gone. I wonder if a season in my shoes would perhaps stop the foolish bickering among so many posting here?. Take it all away and you suddenly understand how wonderful it was to be able to HUNT with anything. I hate fall now…I watch deer like I did for 53 years only now its from a chair in my back yard. God, I envy all of you…enjoy our days chasing the most beautiful animal in WI because some day…

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