CROSSBOW FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners recently expanded the use of crossbows. To better explain what is in place for the hunting seasons, the Game Commission is offering this list of frequently asked questions.
Are crossbows now legal for use by anyone in the archery deer seasons, as well as the archery bear season?
Yes, as long as a hunter possesses a general hunting license and an archery stamp – as well as other required licenses, such as an antlerless deer license or permit, or a bear license – an archery hunter may use a crossbow to participate in the both the early and late archery deer seasons, as well as the two-day archery bear season. Presently, hunters do not need an archery stamp to participate in the archery bear season; they only need a general hunting license and bear license.
Do I need a disabled person permit to use a crossbow?
As all hunters will be permitted to use a crossbow during archery deer seasons and the archery bear seasons, disabled person permits will no longer be needed.
May a Mentored Youth use a crossbow during the archery seasons to take an antlered deer?
Yes, mentored youths may use a crossbow during these seasons. All other requirements of the Mentored Youth Hunting Program must be adhered to, including the requirement that there be only one sporting arm for each pair of adult mentor and youth.
What are the requirements for a crossbow and bolt?
A crossbow must have a peak drawn weight of at least 125 pounds; there is no maximum. A bolt must be equipped with a broadhead that has an outside diameter or width of at least 7/8 inches with at least two cutting edges on the same plane throughout the length of the cutting surface, and shall not exceed three inches in length measured from the tip of the broadhead to the point that fits against the bolt.
What about the requirements for a bow?
No changes were made to what qualifies as a bow, which must have a peak draw weight of at least 35 pounds. Arrow broadheads also must have an outside diameter or width of at least 7/8 inch with no less than two cutting edges. Cutting edges shall be in the same plane throughout the length of the cutting surface. Broadheads may not exceed 3 inches in length measured from the tip of the broadhead to the point that fits against the arrow shaft.
Since crossbows are legal now are draw lock devices for bows legal?
No, there is no change in the prohibition on the use of draw locks.
What is a considered a “loaded crossbow,” as it relates to the existing prohibition of having a loaded sporting arm in, on or leaning against a vehicle?
The bolt must be removed to be considered "unloaded." However, the crossbow string may still be locked and cocked.
May crossbows be used as part of the early muzzleloader or late flintlock seasons?
No, the Board specifically prohibited the use of crossbows as a “lesser sporting arm” for those participating in the October muzzleloader season for antlerless deer or the late flintlock muzzleloader season. However, archery hunters may choose to use a crossbow during the overlap with these muzzleloader/flintlock seasons; they will need an archery license and must abide by the other provisions of the archery seasons.
Do I have to stop using my crossbow for the week-long October muzzleloader season for antlerless deer that overlaps with the early archery deer seasons?
No, you may continue to use a crossbow during the early archery deer seasons, even during the overlap with the October muzzleloader season for antlerless deer, provided you have an archery stamp. As a participant in the early archery season, you will be able to harvest either an antlered or antlerless deer, provided you possess the necessary licenses.
May I still use an unfilled buck tag as an either sex tag in the late flintlock season if I’m hunting with a crossbow?
The ability to use an unfilled buck tag as an either sex tag is a privilege that is reserved for those hunters participating in the late flintlock muzzleloader season. Therefore, those who choose to use a crossbow during the overlapping late archery and flintlock seasons will need to be licensed as an archery hunter and follow the requirements for the late archery deer seasons, and may not use an unfilled buck tag as an either sex tag.
What other seasons may I use a crossbow?
For many years, hunters have been permitted to use crossbows during fall turkey and spring gobbler seasons, elk season, firearms bear season and the two-week firearms deer season. These opportunities will continue. The Board also recently approved the use of crossbows for small game seasons.