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The FWC has directed staff to proceed with a final rule proposal...

that would allow the use of crossbows for all hunters on private lands during archery season.

The FWC made the decision during their June 23 meeting in Lake Mary, after receiving “much interest from Florida hunters” in favor of allowing crossbows to be used during archery season – as it is legal to do in many other states, including Georgia and Alabama.

Hunters reportedly expressed support for the proposal in an online survey conducted by the FWC.

Currently, only compound bows, longbows and recurve bows may be used during archery season, unless a hunter qualifies for and has obtained a disabled crossbow permit.

If the current crossbow proposal gets final approval, which could come as early as the September FWC meeting, any hunter with a hunting license and archery season permit could use a crossbow (or a bow) during archery season, beginning with the 2011-12 hunting season on private lands.

The rule proposal is intended to give hunters more opportunity and enable youth and others who have difficulty using a vertical bow more hunting days, thereby helping recruit and retain more people into the tradition of hunting.

Spring Turkey Firearms Restricted

FWC Commissioners also directed staff to proceed with a rule that would limit firearms and ammunition allowed during spring turkey hunts on public hunting areas. If passed at a future FWC meeting, the proposal would restrict firearms to shotguns only (using shot no larger than No. 2) on FWC-established public hunting areas beginning with the 2011 spring turkey season.

However, all legal bows and crossbows would still be allowed during spring turkey season, provided they have draw weights of at least 35 pounds and shoot broadheads with at least two sharpened edges (minimum 7/8-inch width).

This rule proposal came about after public-land turkey hunters expressed concerns about safety, prompting the FWC to poll Florida’s hunters through another online public survey.

According to the FWC, in many cases public lands have more hunters per acre than private property. And, hunters on public lands are less likely to know the locations of other hunters compared with those who are hunting private lands, leading hunters to express interest in eliminating long-range firearms from public lands during spring turkey hunts.