Crossbows – the next great Kansas deer debate

You have to feel for Lloyd Fox and the Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Commission folks. They no sooner get one great debate over deer hunting in Kansas over than another comes rolling down the mountain.

Steve Wood, of Hays, instructs Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism commissioner Debra Bolton on how to use a crossbow.

Right now it’s possible changes to deer seasons. (See next Sunday’s Eagle Outdoors page for exact details.) The next big debate will probably be the use of crossbows during the archery deer season.

Something tells me Steve Wood isn’t going to give up his one-man campaign soon.

Wood spoke at last week’s commission meeting at the Kansas Wetlands Education Center near Great Bend. It was a presentation unlike any I’ve seen in 11 years of covering commission meetings.

Rather than using the simple standing microphone in front of the commission, like all others of the public, Wood used the podium used by department officials. His presentation of about 15 minutes included handouts and lots of facts and figures.

Early in his talk Wood volunteered that he has a son working for Ten Point Crossbow Technologies, an Ohio crossbow manufacturer. Randy Wood is Ten Point’s vice president of sales.

Steve Wood rated getting crossbows legalized during the archery season as “number-one on my bucket list.”  He graded Kansas with a D or D- for crossbow hunting opportunities.

Currently those who can’t easily draw a bow can get a special permit to use a crossbow during archery deer season. The weapons are also legal during all of the state’s firearms seasons, too.

Many “vertical bowhunters,,” as Wood would refer to them, have long been against the use of crossbows during archery seasons because they’re too easy to use.

At the meeting Drew McCartney, an avid bowhunter who used a crossbow after an accident cost him an arm in 1990, said he’s not in favor of widespread use of crossbows during the archery deer seasons.

“It’s compromising our sport,” said McCartney, who now uses a leather tab and his teeth to draw a compound bow.

During a break Wood offered to let commissioners shoot a crossbow in the parking lot of the Kansas Wetlands Education Center. (Is that legal? It’s illegal to target shoot on most KDWPT lands unless specifically OKed on a  regulated range.)

Commissioner Debra Bolton accepted the offer.