Not surprisingly, it took some time for Maine’s fish and wildlife regulatory apparatus to loosen up when it came to accepting the crossbow as a legitimate and acceptable hunting device. Compared with other states, we have been a long time coming around.
In an excellent column in the September issue of the Northwoods Sporting Journal, columnist Al Raychard explains that the Maine Legislature this spring enacted a new law that will allow hunters of any legal age to use crossbows during the October archery season and the fall turkey season commencing in the fall of 2020.
Prior to this change, crossbow hunters in Maine had to be 65 years of age or older to use crossbows during our regular October archery season.
This is a good thing, although the law comes with a sunset provision that means the change is only good for three years. Because of some concern among some wildlife managers that allowing crossbows during the October archery season could result in excessive doe harvest, a three-year “test period” was agreed to, hence the sunset provision. Raychard argues that experiences in other states with crossbow seasons suggest that there is no peril when it comes to excessive deer harvest.
Raychard raises another good point. Why do we need two separate hunter safety courses in Maine for vertical bow hunters and crossbow hunters? Raychard argues that of the 24 states that permit crossbows for hunting, Maine is the only one that requires two hunter safety courses! A bow is a bow is a bow, even a crossbow.
C’mon, Augusta. Time to consolidate these two archery safety courses. Recreational hunting regulations are burdensome enough without another needless bureaucratic hurdle for hunters thinking about the crossbow option.
In a recent Outdoors in Maine column about African big-game hunter Ken Winters, a Maine resident, the following fact should have been included. Routinely, the meat from big-game trophy kills is all put to good use providing desperately needed protein to undernourished natives in Zimbabwe and other African provinces. This has been done for years.
The economics of affluent big-game hunters paying high prices for a chance to bag an African big game species is somewhat counterintuitive and seldom makes the mainstream press. It is this: the high monetary value of these big-game trophy species to recreational sport hunters incentivizes the local governments to properly manage and protect these valuable species.