From the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
-- The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is considering allowing the use of crossbows during archery season. The draft rule changes would allow the use of crossbows during archery season only on private lands and on lands otherwise not established as a wildlife management area, wildlife and environmental area or miscellaneous area except that crossbows would be allowed on the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes Area.
The proposed change would mean hunters could use crossbows if they wish, or they could continue to use vertical bows. These changes are being considered as a way to encourage greater participation in the archery season and may help increase overall participation in deer hunting, benefitting hunter recruitment and retention.
Allowing the use of crossbows during archery season may also help younger and older hunters who may be unable to use vertical bows. The Commission will review draft rule language during the June Commission meeting and will consider final rules during the September Commission meeting.
The use of crossbows during archery seasons has been allowed in several other states, including neighboring states Georgia and Alabama. Some states allowed the use of crossbows to increase deer harvests in response to expanding deer herds, particularly in urban areas. Success rates for hunting with crossbows compared to vertical bows has been a major point of discussion in these states. Reports from Ohio, Arkansas and Georgia, indicate that success rates for hunting with crossbows were similar to success rates for vertical bows.
These states have reported some increase in deer harvest levels, but generally crossbow harvests represented a small percentage of the overall deer harvest with minimal, if any, impact on deer herds.