A bill that would have let children under the age of 16 hunt deer with powerful crossbows during any of the three hunting seasons for adult hunters in Iowa has been tabled at the statehouse after opposition from the Iowa Bowhunters Association and others.
Representative Matt Windschitl, a Republican from Missouri Valley, said he didn’t want to “ruffle feathers” but had offered the proposal because he has childhood friend who wants to teach his own kids, who are around the age of seven, how to hunt with a crossbow.
“Without having them have the kick of a shotgun, a 20 gauge, because they’re going to be put on their rear end if they’re pulling the trigger on a 20 gauge ” Windschitl said, “so he thought this would be an opportunity or a way to take his children out with him, set the crossbow for them and have the opportunity for them just to engage in the hunt.”
Denny Bradley of Ottumwa, the president of the Iowa Bowhunters Association, says it isn’t exactly “archery” when a hunter uses a crossbow to kill deer.
“Those aren’t considered very ethical shots by bowhunters,” Bradley said.
Others cited concerns about injuries with crossbows, which can shoot long distances and have a trigger like a gun. Randy McPherran of Unionville has been teaching hunter safety courses for over 35 years and he said crossbows are “probably not” something kids should be handling.
“In case you’re not acquainted with crossbows — 180 pounds to string one of those. It takes mechanical equipment to set that,” McPherran said, citing “the danger factor of a crossbow.”
Dale Garner, chief of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources wildlife bureau, saw a man who leads of a similar agency in another state have an accident with a crossbow.
“He had his thumb higher than he should have and it took the thumb off,” he said today during a subcommittee meeting to consider the bill.
Luckily that Nebraskan was rushed to a nearby hospital to have the thumb re-attached. Hunting advocates say allowing children who are accompanied by a parent to use a crossbow during the rifle and bow hunting seasons for adults is a recipe for disaster. Don Avenson, a lobbyist for the Iowa Bowhunters Association, also warned that some less-than-ethical parents will use their child’s deer tag, shoot a buck themselves with a crossbow and then try to pass that off later as a shot with a bow and arrow.
“There is absolutely no question in our mind that those youth seasons are being used by adults to take big deer earlier than anybody else gets a chance at them,” Avenson said.
Iowa currently has a “youth” hunting season in September and children under the age of 16 who are accompanied by an adult can use a rifle, a muzzleloader or a bow and arrow to shoot during that season. The bill that would have allowed children to use a crossbow during any hunting season in Iowa has been tabled for the year and Representative Windschitl, the bill’s sponsor, vows to try to find a compromise with the hunting groups that might pass muster next year.