The four basic rules of firearm safety (TABK) also apply to crossbow use and hunting.
Treat every crossbow as if it were loaded;
Always point the crossbow in a safe direction;
Be certain of your target and what’s beyond; and
Keep your finger outside the trigger guard until ready to shoot.
Treestand fall is the leading cause of injuries to archery hunters
Jon King , DNR hunter education administrative warden, says if a tree stand is part of your hunting tradition, it’s best to review key safety tips.
“A treestand fall is the leading cause of injuries to archery hunters,” King said.
To reduce chances of taking a treestand fall while archery hunting, King advises these two top tips:
- Always wear a fall restraint device when using a tree stand. This should also include a safety device to assist you in climbing in and out from the ground to the platform.
- Let your family know where you are going.
For more information search the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for “Tree Stand Safety.”
Here are a few more things Hunter Education Administrative Warden Jon King urges people to remember if they plan to hunt with a crossbow this year:
- Always read and review the manual of your crossbow and follow all manufacture safety rules.
- Never attempt to repair your crossbow unless you are properly trained, consider taking to a pro-shop for repairs or return to the manufacturer.
- Crossbows have a safety. Most crossbows are on safe at the end of the cocking process. Immediately after cocking always check to make sure that your bow is on safe before doing anything else. This is very important!
- Always use bolts/arrows recommended by the manufacturer and handle carefully. Protect yourself and the arrow points with a covered arrow quiver.
- The safest way to carry, transport, and raise or lower a crossbow from a stand, is to have the crossbow un-cocked at all times.
- Never dry-fire a crossbow. Crossbows have a draw weight of 125-290 pounds. The safest way to un-cock a crossbow is to fire a bolt into the ground or target.
- Make sure that the limb tips are free of obstructions and your fingers, hand, or arm is not in the string path at any time while the crossbow is cocked.
- Although crossbows can be extremely accurate at great distances due to the slow velocity of the bolt/arrow, care should be taken not to take long shots at game. Most crossbows are incapable of beating an animal’s reaction time at distances greater than 50 yards.
During open firearm seasons, a gun deer license will authorize bow and crossbow use. Crossbow and archer licenses include one statewide buck tag and up to three Farmland (Zone 2) antlerless tags, depending on the Deer Management Unit of choice. It is important to remember hunters purchasing a traditional bow (archer) and a crossbow license will receive only one set of tags.
In addition, tree stands and ground blinds used on DNR-managed lands must be removed daily. For other types of property such as county or federally owned lands, contact the property manager to learn about these rules.
For more information, check out the 2016 Deer Hunting Regulations, or visit dnr.wi.gov and search keyword “deer.”