Crossbow Hunting Regulations by State


Updated 05/13/2013

Below is a summary of crossbow hunting regulations in the United States. Although we believe this information is accurate and current, this page is intended as a quick reference, and as such there may be details about regulations in your state that are not mentioned here (e.g. are scopes legal? can I use a crank? etc.). Regulations can and do change frequently from state to state. Please contact your state agency to verify all the regulations you must follow. This summary page SHOULD NOT be considered official legal advice and it may contain errors or omissions.. Alabama Crossbows legal for all persons during the entire deer hunting season.  Magnified scopes are now allowed on crossbows only. 334-242-3469 Alaska Crossbows are illegal in bow-only areas, but can be used where guns and bows are legal weapons. Legal in archery season for handicapped hunters with an approved Methods and Means Exemption Form. 907-465-4190 Arizona Crossbows legal for handicapped hunters on a very restrictive permit basis, or for anyone during general firearms seasons. 602-942-3000 Arkansas Crossbows legal during archery seasons; must have minimum draw weight of 125 pounds and mechanical safety. 501-223-6300 California Crossbows legal for all hunters during gun seasons. Also, the California Game Commission voted on April 22, 2004 to adopt the following language to their regulations: “Any person with a physical disability which prevents him/her from being able to draw and hold a bow in a firing position, may use a crossbow or device which holds a string and arrow in the firing position to assist in the taking of birds and mammals under the conditions of an archery tag, archery season, or general session. Under these conditions, archers must provide to the Department and retain in his/her immediate possession while taking or attempting to take big game written verification of the disability, including: the person’s name and signature, address, date of birth, driver’s license or DMV number, physician’s name and signature, physician’s license number and address and a description of the disability.” 916-445-0411 Colorado Crossbows legal for all hunters during gun seasons and for handicapped hunters during archery season. 303-297-1192 Connecticut Crossbows legal for handicapped hunters by permit and for anyone during the January archery season on private property in Deer Management Zones 11 & 12.  Draw weight must be a minimum of 125-pounds and a maximum of 220-pounds, have a permanently fixed rifle stock and mechanical safety, minimum finished arrow weight of 450-grains or higher and a minimum arrow length of 18-inches. 860-424-3011 Delaware Crossbows legal during all deer seasons.  Crossbows may be equipped with a scope. It is unlawful to transport a crossbow on or within any vehicle while the crossbow is in the cocked position.  Deer may be hunted with crossbows provided hunter orange is displayed when it is also lawful to hunt deer with a gun. 302-739-9911 Florida August 30, 2010.  Effective July 2011, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission  passed a new rule which will extend zonal crossbow seasons by a month.  The new rule adds   30 days to each crossbow season in zones A, B, and C, and adds 33 days in zone D, thereby coinciding with the archery season on private land only. 850-488-3831 Georgia Crossbows legal in all seasons starting 2003. 770-918-6416 Hawaii Crossbows legal by special disabled permit only. 808-587-0400 Idaho During an any-weapon hunting season you can hunt with a crossbow without any other permit besides your hunting license and proper tag. Crossbows also legal for handicapped persons by permit-to hunt with a crossbow during an archery season, you must also have a valid archery permit as well as a hunting license and a proper tag. 208-334-3700 Illinois Hunters 62 years of age and older are now permitted to use a crossbow without a special permit. Hunters using a crossbow will need an archery deer permit and proof of age in the form of an official ID.  Crossbows used in hunting as authorized by a permit issued under this section shall meet all of the following specifications: 1) Shall have a minimum peak draw weight of 125 pounds and a maximum peak draw weight of 200 pounds. 2) Shall have a minimum overall length (from butt of stock to front of limbs) of 24 inches. 3) Shall have a working safety. 4) Shall be used with bolts or arrows of not less than 14 inches in length (not including point) with a broadhead. Broadheads may have fixed or expandable blades, but they must be barbless and have a minimum 7/8 inch diameter when fully opened. Broadheads with fixed blade must be metal or flint-, chert-, or obsidian-napped. Broadheads with expandable blades must be metal. Crossbows also legal for handicapped hunters by permit. 217-782-6384 Indiana Crossbows legal in entire archery season beginning December 31, 2011.  Crossbows must have a minimum draw weight of 125-pounds and a mechanical safety. 317-232-4200 Iowa Crossbows legal for handicapped hunters with permit.  Resident hunters 70 years old and older may purchase one statewide antlerless-deer only license to hunt deer with a crossbow. 515-281-5918 Kansas Crossbows legal for all hunters during archery deer seasons. Read more here: 620-672-5911 Kentucky Crossbows legal for all hunters during rifle and muzzleloader seasons, and portions of archery season (dates change annually). Legal in archery season for handicapped hunters. 800-858-1549 Louisiana The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Commission now has the ability to establish a bow and arrow only season, and a bow and arrow and crossbow season in special deer hunting seasons. 225-765-2350 Maine Crossbows legal for persons 16-years of age or older to hunt bear with a crossbow during the bear hunting season, or to hunt deer with a crossbow during the open firearm season on deer.  Also legal for disabled hunters. 207-287-8000 Maryland The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Wildlife and Heritage Service now allows crossbows to be used to hunt any game species during any open season where a vertical bow may be used (excluding waterfowl and certain furbearers). This would permit the use of a crossbow during the entire deer bow season in all counties.  Minimum draw weight is 75-pounds, telescopic sights are permitted and the crossbow must have a working safety. 1-877-620-8367 (in state) or 410-260-8367 (out of state) Massachusetts Crossbows may be used by certain permanently handicapped persons by permit only. 508-389-6300 Michigan August 17, 2010, Effective immediately, crossbow regulations have expanded for hunters statewide. The crossbow regulation changes include the following: -Lowered the minimum age for crossbow use from 12 to 10 years of age statewide. -Expanded the use of crossbows to all legal hunters during all archery and firearms seasons statewide, except in the Upper Peninsula, where crossbow use will remain prohibited during the late archery and muzzleloader seasons, unless the hunter is disabled (Crossbows may only be used in the Upper Peninsula by anyone 50 years of age or older during the Oct. 1-Nov. 14 bow hunting deer season statewide). Hunters using crossbows will still be required to obtain a free crossbow stamp. The stamp, which is free, will help the DNR monitor and survey crossbow hunters. 517-373-1263 Minnesota Crossbows legal for handicapped hunters by permit.  Also legal for anyone during firearms season and Turkey and Bear seasons. 888-646-6367 or 651-296-6157 Mississippi Effective July 1, 2013, crossbows are legal in all of Archery Season.  Archer’s are reminded that they are required to wear hunter orange during all gun seasons.  The separate crossbow permit is no longer required. 601-432-2400 Missouri Crossbows for handicapped archers by permit and during firearms season. 573-751-4115 Montana Crossbows legal only during gun seasons. No provision for handicapped hunters. 406-444-2535 Nebraska Crossbows are legal archery equipment for big game (deer, antelope, elk, turkey & bighorn sheep). 402-471-0641 Nevada Crossbows may only be used for hunting big game during an “Any Legal Weapon” hunt.  Crossbows are not allowed for archery hunts.  Crossbows must have a minimum 125-pound draw weight, minimum draw length of 14-inches from front of bow to nocking point, minimum 18-inch stock and a positive mechanical safety.  Arrows must be minimum 16-inches and have a broadhead. 775-688-1500 New Hampshire Crossbows legal for handicapped hunters by permit. Legal for all hunters to take a deer in firearms season. Legal for all hunters on Long Island in Moultonborough with Long Island Deer Permit.  Crossbow hunters must purchase a crossbow hunting permit. 603-271-2461 or 603-271-2462 New Jersey Crossbows are legal in any bow and arrow hunting season and other hunting seasons for all species where the use of bow and arrow is allowed. Crossbows must have a minimum draw weight of 75 pounds and a minimum stock length of 25 inches. 609-292-2965 New Mexico Crossbow use is allowed by Certified Mobility Impaired Hunters during all hunts.  Crossbows may now be used in “Any Legal Sporting Arm” or Muzzleloader” hunts unless otherwise restricted. 505-476-8000 New York Please note: the law allowing use of crossbows expired on December 31, 2012. Crossbows may no longer be used for hunting in New York. 518-402-8924 or 518-402-8985 North Carolina Effective August 1, 2010, allows the use of crossbows anytime bow and arrows are legal weapons. Crossbows must have a minimum draw weight of 150-pounds. 919-707-0050 North Dakota Crossbows legal for handicapped hunters by permit. Effective September 1, 2011, the following new regulations will go into effect: 1.  Crossbows are now legal for hunters during the rifle season. 2.  Crossbows are now legal for all hunters during primitive weapons season.  Note: Crossbows used during the primitive weapons season may NOT be equipped with optics that have any magnification.  Only scopes and red dots with 1x magnification may be used during the primitive weapons season. 701-328-6300 Ohio Crossbows legal during archery season. 614-265-6300 Oklahoma Crossbows and conventional bows with draw lock devices are a legal means of hunting whenever conventional bows are allowed. 405-521-3851 Oregon Crossbows illegal. 503-947-6000 Pennsylvania The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners has approved the expanded lawful use of crossbows to include both the archery deer and bear seasons. The Board included a sunset date for the expanded crossbow use requiring a future vote on the measure again before June 30, 2012. *The use of magnified scopes was approved on April 21, 2009. 717-787-4250 Rhode Island The crossbow is no longer classified as a firearm – it is now in the same classification as recurves, compounds and longbows. Crossbows are now Approved for use by all archery hunters during the Archery deer season provided the hunter has successfully completed the Bow Hunter education course or otherwise qualifies for an Archery deer permit. The use of crossbow for hunting wild turkey or any wild bird is prohibited by law (RIGL 20-14-7). Special permits are no longer required to hunt with the crossbow including those previously required for disabled hunters; however, use of Adaptive Aids for archery hunting still requires the special permit. 401-222-6800 South Carolina Archery equipment is now defined as ” a bow and arrow, a long bow, a recurve bow, a compound bow, or a cross bow.” 803-734-3886 South Dakota Crossbows legal for handicapped hunters during archery season. Must have a minimum draw weight of 125-pounds and a functional mechanical safety device.  Telescopic sights and lighted sight pins are prohibited. 605-223-7665 Tennessee The use of crossbows is now permitted during all seasons including the regular archery season. 615-781-6500 Texas Full-inclusion of crossbows in archery seasons except Grayson County. 512-389-4800 or 1-800-792-1112 Utah Crossbows legal only for handicapped hunters by permit. 801-538-4700 Vermont Crossbows legal only for handicapped hunters by permit. 802-241-3700 Virginia Crossbows are legal during archery season and firearms season.  A crossbow permit will be required if the season is “archery only”. 804-367-1000 Washington Crossbows legal for qualifying archers with disabilities.  Crossbows are also legal in firearms season.  Crossbows must have a minimum draw weight of 125-pounds and a working safety.  Retractable broadheads are not legal. Using a scope on a crossbow during a modern firearm season is now allowed. Several areas of law in need of clarification. Please consult Dept. of Fish & Wildlife directly for a list of approved crossbows. 360-902-2200 West Virginia Crossbows legal with a Class Y Crossbow Permit for individuals who have been determined to have a permanent physical impairment which renders them so disabled as to be unable to use a conventional bow and arrow device. An application must be completed and submitted by the hunter and a licensed Physician to the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources for consideration. 304-558-2758 Wisconsin Crossbows are not legal to use except by disabled hunters issued a Class A, B, or Crossbow permit; and hunters 65 years of age or older issued a valid archery hunting license. During any gun deer season, hunters can use a firearm, bow and arrow, or crossbow as their weapon of choice while hunting under the authority of their gun deer license and gun deer carcass tags. During the 10-day muzzleloader season, a hunter can use a muzzleloading firearm, bow and arrow, or a crossbow as their weapon of choice while hunting under the authority of their gun deer license and gun deer carcass tag. WI Hunting Regulations 608-266-2621 Wyoming Crossbows legal during archery seasons; Must have 90-pound minimum draw weight, minimum draw length of 14-inches and shoot a minimum 16-inch bolt. 307-777-4600]]>