Crossbow Regulations Finally Final In Pennsylvania?

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Sept. 9, 2009

Crossbow Regulations Finally Final In Pennsylvania?

After more than 10 months of votes, reversals and re-votes, the Pennsylvania
Board of Game Commissioners has apparently finally approved the crossbow for
use in the state’s archery-only hunting seasons for 2009. You’ll also read
about women packing handguns in Connecticut and about a new study showing that
young bucks have as much fun as old ones.

Poor Performance
It’s hard to imagine more dysfunctional and divisive actions by a commission
entrusted to manage wildlife and set hunting regulations than the Keystone
State Game Commissioners’ voting performance on the expansion of the crossbow
use into the regular archery seasons there.

J.R. Absher

Here’s the abridged version: In October 2008 the Commission gave preliminary approval to a proposal allowing
crossbows for the entire length of all Pennsylvania archery-only hunting (deer
& black bear) seasons. Then, as is protocol for that regulatory body, it
revisited the proposal at its next regular meeting in January 2009.

At that time, the Commission approved the proposal, but inserted an
amendment prohibiting crossbow scopes for deer or bear hunting, and another
requiring it to revisit the crossbow issue before June 30, 2012. The scope
prohibition was subsequently reversed during a special Commissioner’s confab
several weeks later.

In the meantime, debate over crossbow use in archery seasons continued to rage
on Internet forums and newspaper opinion pages. The Pennsylvania Hunting and
Trapping Guide detailing the new crossbow regulations went to press —
featuring full-page advertisements (costing thousands of dollars each) from
leading crossbow manufacturers. Countless Pennsylvania hunters forked over
anywhere for $700 to $1,500 for new crossbows in anticipation of their expanded
hunting opportunity.

A shuffling of Commission appointees also occurred about this time, giving
some from the anti-crossbow camp reason to believe their cause was not yet
totally lost. They were rewarded with a victory — albeit temporary — when a
short-seated, seven-member Commission gave preliminary approval during its July
meeting to a proposal restricting crossbow hunters to only the first two weeks
of the archery deer season, effectively blocking them from participating in the
prime days of the whitetail rut.

Not surprisingly, the vote prompted outrage among those crossbow owners who
were preparing to hunt the entire five-week deer season slated to open October
3. Crossbow manufacturers understandably felt they’d been duped. Even
Pennsylvania sportsmen who didn’t have a horse in the race were bewildered by
the actions of their Game Commission through its rule-changing after the
regulations had already been printed and distributed.

Fast forward to last week, when a now-complete eight-member Commission
became locked in a 4-4 tie vote over the proposal restricting crossbows in the
2009 hunt, meaning the hunt will proceed as it was originally approved way back
in January.

Connecticut Pistol Permits Soar, More Women Packing
Nearly 12,000 new pistol permits have been issued this year in Connecticut, a
state with one of the historically lowest gun ownership rates in the country.

The state issued 7,741 pistol permits from January through May, a 90 percent
increase over the same time period in 2008. Retailers and safety instructors
report a surge in first-time gun purchases, particularly by women

"I think that the percentage that you’d see of women coming for the
first time has quadrupled," John Petricone, a staffer at Tactical Arms in
Torrington, told the Danbury Republican-American. Pistol safety classes that
once drew about nine men for every woman are now evenly split, Petricone said.

Herb Furhman, a retired state trooper who now trains correction officers and
operates HF LeanSafety LLC in New Milford, said his private classes are running
at capacity, and about a third of his students are female.

"There’s more single women now," he said, adding that most of the
female participants exhibited an interest in personal protection.

Young Bucks Get Share Of The Action
A new study dispels a widely held assumption that older, dominant male
whitetails generally prevail in the breeding process and contribute
overwhelmingly to the herd’s future generations.

The study, published in the August issue of the Journal of Mammology reveals
that bucks of all ages and maturity general have an equal chance at breeding.

Researchers led by Randy DeYoung of Mississippi State University studied
deer in three locations: Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge in Mississippi, the
King Ranch in Texas, and the Noble Foundation Wildlife Unit in Oklahoma.

Their DNA research performed on 1,219 deer found that 1- to 2-year-old bucks
sired a third of the fawns, despite the presence of more mature bucks,
resulting in the conclusion that social dominance alone may not guarantee
reproductive success.

Bill Would Strike Kentucky’s Anti-Dueling’ Oath
Kentucky State Rep. Darryl Owens, (D-Louisville), has pre-filed a bill that
would eliminate the provision in Kentucky’s Constitution that requires all
lawyers and political office-holders to swear they have never engaged in a duel
with deadly weapons. The language has been part of official state swearing-in
ceremonies since 1849.

The oath in the state Constitution says, "…I, being a citizen of this
state, have not fought a duel with deadly weapons within this State nor out of
it, nor have I sent or accepted a challenge to fight a duel with deadly
weapons, nor have I acted as second in carrying a challenge, nor aided or
assisted any person thus offending, so help me God."

Owens said the dueling language in the state oath takes away the dignity of
public swearing-in ceremonies for new state officeholders.

"I think that it is time we jump into the 21st century and delete this
archaic language so the oath of office can be administered in a serious and
respectful manner," Owens told the Lexington Herald-Leader.

A look back at Kentucky’s colorful history reveals that 41 duels were fought
in the commonwealth from 1790 to 1867.

In 1849, delegates to a constitutional convention inserted a provision in
the new charter that required all state officers to take an oath that they had
never fought, seconded, or issued a challenge in a duel. The move effectively
ended dueling in The Bluegrass State.

Quote Of The Week
"When one hunts with a friend, it hardly matters who kills the birds. It
hardly matters whether birds are killed at all. One must do right by the birds,
by one’s partner, and by the dogs. Hunting is a path, a muddy, brushy, dank,
and spoor-written path along which the seeker, if his spirit be right, can
truly feel the earth. If he is fortunate, he travels with a true dog and a true
-Charles Fergus
“A Rough-Shooting Dog,” 1991

J.R. Absher is a freelance outdoor writer whose articles and columns appear
in numerous national publications. He offers his unique perspective of the outdoors
weekly for You may contact him at

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