Here is a list of crossbow hunting regulations in the United States. This page is by no means complete and we encourage you to check with your local and state regulations before purchasing and using a crossbow. Regulations changes all the time so please contact your local DNR (or equivalent office) for more information.
For your convenience, we have provided a listing for each state along with their websites where you can learn more about crossbow regulations.
Crossbows are legal for all persons during the entire deer-hunting season.
You may use a crossbow in any hunt that does not restrict weapons. “Certified bow hunters only”, “bow and arrow only”, or “muzzleloader only” hunts or areas specifically exclude other weapons, including crossbows. Scopes and other optical enhancement devices are not permitted.
Crossbows must have at least a 125-pound pull and a mechanical safety. Deer, turkey and bear hunters are required to use arrowheads at least 7/8-inch wide. Poison may not be used on arrows. Magnifying sights may be used. Crossbows are not allowed for taking elk.
California states that “a crossbow is not archery equipment and may not be used during the archery season.” Except with a Disabled Archer Permit, crossbows may not be used during any archery season or during the general season when using an archery only tag.
A crossbow may be substituted for a shotgun in November and December. May be used during archery season by disabled hunters with a permit. Check with state regulations for additional details.
Crossbows are now legal in the Central zone (October 20-24, 2008), South zone (October 6-10, 2008), and in the Northwest Zone, the crossbow season will be seven days long and will open the Monday following Thanksgiving (December 1-7, 2008). Click on the Florida link below for additional crossbow information. Crossbows also legal for handicapped hunters by permit.
Crossbows are legal in big game seasons restricted to short-range weapons. Permitted for use during archery season by disabled persons with a permit.
Crossbows are legal for disabled hunters by permit only and hunters over the age of 62 with permits and tag. See state regulations for details.
Crossbows are legal hunting equipment during the late archery deer season for antlerless deer. Deer hunters may use crossbows to harvest deer of either sex only in the late archery season.
Crossbows are permitted for disabled hunters with permit. Residents 70 and older may purchase a statewide antlerless deer license to hunt with a crossbow.
Crossbows may be used in designated weeks, see state regulations. Hunters using crossbows during a firearms deer season must follow all firearm season restrictions, zone guidelines and hunting requirements in effect during firearms seasons. Crossbows are also permitted during muzzle-loader only season. Disabled hunters with a permit may use a crossbow to hunt deer during the bow-only deer season.
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.
A crossbow hunting license is required for hunters 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.
A resident or nonresident 10 years of age or older and under 16 years of age may hunt with a crossbow if that person holds a valid junior hunting license (no crossbow license required).
Crossbows may be used to hunt deer only, with the exception of special crossbow permits for disabled hunters who may pursue all game legal for a vertical bow. All hunters may use crossbows for four weeks of archery season and four weeks of gun season.
New for the 2009 season! In Zone 3 (southern Michigan), anyone
12 and older can hunt with a crossbow during any hunting season as long as they have the
appropriate licenses. Meanwhile, anyone who has obtained a crossbow permit because of
a permanent disability can continue to use a crossbow. Certain restrictions apply see state regulations for details.
Crossbows are permitted for disabled hunters with permit and hunters 65 and older, also in primitive weapon and deer gun seasons.
Crossbows are classified as firearms and are permitted during firearms season. Disabled hunters with a permit may use a crossbow during archery season.
Crossbows with a draw weight of 125lbs or more are legal to hunt deer and antelope during the firearms season. Disabled hunters with a permit may use a crossbow during archery season.
Crossbows are legal for all hunters with a crossbow hunting permit during firearms season and for all hunters on Long Island with a Long Island deer permit. Disabled hunters may use a crossbow pursuant to disabled hunter regulations without purchasing a crossbow permit. Crossbows are prohibited during the youth hunting weekend for deer.
NEW * On Tuesday, June 16, the New Jersey Fish and Game Council voted on adopting proposed amendments to the 2009 – 2012 Game Code. The Council voted to adopt all the proposed amendments except amendment 29, which proposed boundary changes to Deer Management Zones 19 and 23. The full proposal containing the amendments can be viewed atwww.nj.gov/dep/rules/proposals/040609b.pdf (PDF) on the NJ DEP website.
The most significant amendment adopted expands the definition of “bow” by removing the prohibition on all draw locking and draw holding devices and by including crossbows in the definition. This allows the use of crossbows 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 minumum draw weight of 75 pounds and a minimum stock length of 25 inches.
Crossbows are legal sporting arms for cougar, bear, deer, elk, pronghorn, javelina, Barbary sheep, persian ibex, oryx, turkey, and bighorn sheep. Hunters that qualify with a permanent mobility limitation may use crossbows to hunt waterfowl and upland game. Sights on crossbows shall not project light nor magnify.
A Modified Crossbow Permit may be issued to permanently disabled individuals whose disability is so severe that they are physically unable to operate a mechanical device attached to a regular bow.
Crossbows are not legal, except with a permit from the Game and Fish director. Contact the Department for additional information on crossbow regulations.
Crossbows with a draw weight of not less than 75 lbs and no more than 200 lbs. Crossbows are legal arms for archery, firearms and muzzleloader seasons.
Residents of Oklahoma who are 60 years of age or older may use a crossbow. In addition, hunters who have a permanent disability to the extent that they cannot use a conventional longbow, as certified by a physician licensed to practice in Oklahoma or bordering state, may hunt with a crossbow. A disabled person who qualifies to use a crossbow shall have in their possession while in the field written evidence of such certification signed by the physician.
Pennsylvania Game Commissioners gave final approval to a proposal to legalize crossbows for archery hunting statewide beginning with the 2009-2010 seasons. Magnifying scopes are legal. There is a sunset review scheduled for 2012.
Crossbows only legal for hunters who posses an official adaptive Aid/Crossbow permit obtained through the DEM division of licensing.
NEW* Where the open season is designated as “archery,” only legal archery equipment/crossbow as specified below may be used.
Crossbows are legal for disabled residents and nonresidents under Class A, B, C or crossbow permit, and residents age 65 and older.
Crossbows are legal during archery seasons, and must have a 90 pound minimum draw weight, shoot a 16 inch bolt and can not be cocked with a leverage-gaining device.