Wisconsin Crossbow Hunting Now Open For All

The new Mission Dagger Crossbow.

The new Mission Dagger Crossbow.

Wisconsin has become the latest state to open up crossbow hunting for all hunters, regardless of age, and eliminating the disability requirement.

Hunters in Wisconsin will be able to buy a crossbow license along with their other licenses starting in March. In essence, you can buy either an archery tag or a crossbow tag, or both. There is a provision that makes buying both licenses affordable (an additional $3).

As in the past with archery and gun, if you purchase multiple licenses at the same time, you’ll receive only one backtag, and the crossbow license will be included with the Conservation Patron licenses.

The season will simply run concurrently with archery season. Basically, you can choose your weapon during archery season.

From the Wisconsin DNR (some sections redacted for brevity):

This law eliminates the age and disability requirements for using a crossbow.  The law establishes a new resident crossbow hunting license and nonresident crossbow license.  The crossbow hunting licenses established under this law allow a crossbow license holder to use a crossbow to hunt the same game animals that may be hunted under current law with an archer hunting license (resident archer hunting license allows the holder to hunt all game, except bear, elk, wolf, and wild turkey with a bow and arrow during the relevant season established by DNR, while the nonresident archer license allows hunting of all game, except bear, elk, wolf, wild turkey, and furbearers).  The crossbow license authorizes hunting with a crossbow only.

The crossbow license is included in the resident and nonresident Conservation Patron and Conservation Patron Junior licenses.

Crossbow License fees – The fee for a resident crossbow license is $24, while the fee for a nonresident crossbow license is $160. The fee for a resident or nonresident duplicate crossbow license is $15 if deer tags are included and $12 if deer tags are not included.

The fee for a resident crossbow license issued to persons who are under 18 years of age is $20.  There is no reduced fee for those under 18 for nonresident crossbow hunting licenses, as the nonresident crossbow hunting license is included in the nonresident Conservation Patron Junior license available for $77.

The fee for a crossbow hunting license issued to a person who is 10 or 11 years of age is $5.

“Upgrade” Crossbow or Archer License – This law provides that an archer hunting license may be issued to a resident or nonresident person who holds a crossbow hunting license for a reduced fee of $3.00 ($2.25 approval fee + $.075 transaction fee).  The law also provides a crossbow hunting license may be issued to a resident or nonresident person who holds an archer hunting license for the $3.00 reduced fee.

Hunter Education Requirements – This law does not change the requirement to have completed hunter education if born on or before Jan. 1, 1973 in order to purchase an approval authorizing hunting.  This law, however, now allows a person who has successfully completed a bow hunter education program to obtain a resident or nonresident crossbow hunting license in addition to a resident or nonresident archer hunting license.

Wisconsin joins at least 21 other states that offer full crossbow hunting during archery season. The Hunters Friend website provides a detailed list here, which was current as of Spring 2013.

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