Washington Commission Shoots Down Petition Allowing Senior Crossbow Hunts


The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission unanimously voted to deny a petition allowing those 65 and older to use a crossbow for hunting during archery season.

The commission is appointed by the governor and sets policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Hunting with a crossbow in Washington during archery-only season is prohibited, unless one has a disability hunting permit, in which case one can hunt with a crossbow during any season where archery weapons are allowed. It is, however, legal to use a crossbow during any modern firearms season.

The bow-hunting community tends to be opposed to the use of crossbows during archery season. Doing so would add too much modern technology to hunts designed to be primitive, explained Anis Aoude, WDFW game division manager, during Friday morning’s virtual meeting.

The commission was asked not to pass the petition in part to further gauge public opinion on the matter.

“So at this time we’re asking to basically deny this petition and allow us to put it out there as an idea again in our next three-year season setting cycle, which basically starts next summer,” Aoude said.

He went on to further explain his reasoning, noting the WDFW’s Game Management Advisory Council is opposed to the proposed rule change that would allow seniors who may be struggling to draw and shoot their bows to use the more powerful crossbow.

“The reason some of the archers are opposed to this is if it does increase harvests through that, then their allocation actually goes down because allocation is based on the number harvested,” Aoude said.

A hunting allocation or special license allows the hunting of a specific species and type or class of animal during an identified hunting season within a specific area.

“So there’s a rationale why I think archers sometimes are opposed to having maybe a little bit more effective weapon in their season,” Aoude said. “So, just something else to consider. It’s not just based on kind of ‘They don’t like people who hunt with those kinds of weapons.’”

Not that most senior hunters need any special considerations.

“To be honest, older hunters do still tend to be very – they have a high success rate still, even though they are older,” Aoude pointed out. “They know kind of how to hunt and have been doing it for a long time, so their success rate isn’t actually lower than anybody else’s.”