Rarely accused of being overly progressive, Alabama updated its hunting regulations this fall-and raised a few eyebrows. The state approved the use of decoys during spring turkey season and scopes for muzzleloaders. But the most controversial change was the legalization of crossbows during archery season.
According to state conservation commissioner Barnett Lawley, many agreed with the new regulations. “The overwhelming majority of hunters favor them enthusiastically.” And of more than 3,000 public comments received by the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, better than 75 percent were positive. But some resident hunters voiced objections to the changes, arguing that the newly approved gear-especially crossbows-gives hunters an unfair advantage over game.
Other states, such as Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Maryland, are either considering or have already implemented a liberalization of their crossbow laws, and soon the concerns of Alabamans may be echoed across the country. But Bill Spear, president of the Alabama Society of Traditional Bowmen, points out that ethics are not the sole responsibility of legislators, saying that the choice of equipment in itself “does not, and cannot, have any ethics.” It’s up to the hunter, whatever he carries, to use it responsibly.