Crossbow hunting for deer in Georgia will be legal during the 2002 archery
season. The first meeting of the Old Deer Hunters Association will come to order on September 14th in Oconee County, Georgia with crossbows. Until this
season, only people with disabilities that prevented them hunting with conventional bows could use a crossbow for hunting deer in Georgia. Arkansas
has allowed deer hunting with crossbows during deer archery season for many years. If you are unsure about your state, a complete list of regulations by state,
is available from Great Lakes Crossbows at http://www.dartonarchery.com/CrossbowRegulations.htm .
Crossbows are Tons of Fun
For those of you who have never tried shooting a crossbow, it is easy and a lot of fun. Crossbows bring archery to many people who don't have the ability to shoot compound bows, to
the older generations and to people who don't have the strength to shoot longbows. A perfect example is a petite lady friend of mine who can't pull a
regular bow, but can use a crossbow with the aid of a cocking device. She loves target shooting with the crossbow and routinely puts her arrows in a two inch
group at 30 yards. For those of us whose eyes are failing in the later years, crossbows allow us to mount scopes so that we can see the target more clearly. I can barely see
through the peep site on my compound bow, making it difficult to acquire my target, but with the aid of a
low power scope on my crossbow, I can see the target clearly and more accurately place the shot.
Accurate shot placement is paramount in bow hunting. I have never been a great shot with my compound bow, but I am deadly at archery range distances with my Horton Legend and 3x Weaver scope.
Horton Legend SL and Barnett Quad 300
For our crossbow report we chose two of the most popular crossbows, the Horton Legend SL and the
Barnett Quad 300. John opted for the Barnett Quad 300 Package that includes a crossbow, multi-reticle
4x scope, bow quiver and 6 20" arrows. Cabellas sells this package for about $300. Since I already had
an extra 3x scope and quiver, I chose a Horton Legend without a package deal and the price from
Cabellas was also about $300. I added 6 Horton Lightning Strike 20" arrows and a scope mount for an
additional $65. One other accessory that comes in handy is a rope and pulley cocking device that cuts the weight by 50% when cocking the crossbow ($20).
These compact bows weigh about 6-7 pounds, much lighter than the crossbows of decade ago. They
have safeties and sights similar to a rifle, making it easy for the rifle hunter to make the transition to
archery. Both have conventional peep and pin sights and both can be used with a scope. The pull weight
for modern crossbows usually run from 150-200 pounds, so a pulley or crank cocking device will take a lot
of the strain off your back when cocking. I use the simple rope pulley device and it not only makes it
easier to cock, it aligns the string in the same position for every shot. Most modern crossbows use cams
(like a compound bow) to produce arrow speed. The arrow speed advertised for the Horton is 300 fps and
the Barnett 335 fps. The speeds will vary according to the weight of the arrow and point or broad head. I chronographed (Oehler P35) the Horton with an aluminum arrow and 100 grain target point and it shot
consistently at 280 fps. This speed is comparable to most compound bows, so although the crossbow
may look like a rifle, the power is the same as any other bow and it is still a short range hunting device, with a max range for big game of 40 yards or less.
Although both crossbows can be used with scopes, the Horton has a clear advantage over the Barnett.
The Barnett has a rail mount for the scope and you need a special multi-reticle scope for sighting at
different ranges. The Horton, on the other hand, has a built in distance "dial-a-range" compensator made
into the rear sight and scope mount. There is a dial on the side of the bow with a numbered scale that
lets you click in the estimated yardage and it works great. After setting the dial at "1" you zero your
scope at 10 yards. You can then move the point of aim for longer yardage by moving the dial up to 2 for
20 yards, 3 for 30 yards and so on. Compensation for arrow trajectory will vary depending on arrow speed
and broad head weight. It will work with any type of scope that uses a weaver type mount.
The Good the Bad and the Ugly
There are always things about every product we use and report on that the Old Deer Hunters find great
and not so great and that is what you need to know. Fortunately most of this report is good.
Horton Look and Feel-- The Horton line of crossbow has a great ergonomic design and feel. They also
have great camo patterns like Mossy Oak Break Up. The Barnett is easier in the wallet, and looks OK too, if you are a "Star Wars" fan.
Fast Shooting & Accurate--Both the Horton and the Barnett are easy to shoot and accurate. With a little
practice, you can consistently hit two inch bulls eyes at 25-40 yards.
Fun & Easy--Want to get your wife, son or daughter interested in shooting and hunting? This is a great
way to do it and you can usually find a safe place to shoot in your back yard or close by.
More Hunters--The combination of the accurate crossbow and a scope site makes archery hunting a
better proposition for more people. Less wounded deer and more hunters in the woods. If you are a bow
or gun hunter, please don't criticizes or complain about hunters using crossbows. We need all the
hunters we can get to continue our hunting heritage. Stick together against the anti-gunners and anti
-hunters who want us all unarmed and out of the woods. Think about trying it for yourself and the opportunities it may open for young and old hunters.
Scope mounts-- The rail scope mount on the Barnett had to be shimmed. Using the scope and mounts
provided in the Package, there was not enough elevation adjustment in the scope to zeroed it. John had to shim the mount to get it sighted in.
Loud!-- When compared to modern compound bows, crossbows are loud, and there is not much you can
do about it. A pair of Limb Savers on the limbs helped some. I put some rubber silencers on the string and they lasted about 3 shots.
Even if you are a "Star Wars" fan, That Quad 300 is an Ugly Bow! Shoots pretty good, but ugly.
Ten Point Crossbows
Bass Pro Shops
First Hunting Trip
The first 2002 meeting of the Old Deer Hunters opened on a rainy September 14th. I had set up an Ameristep Doghouse blind a couple of days before and it was the only dry spot on the hunting lease. I
got in the blind just at daybreak, got set up, and took a couple of range readings with my range finder. I
had one shot out to 30 yards but most shots from the blind would be about 20 yards if the deer passed on
the trail I was watching. I set the Horton "dial-a-range" dial for 20 yards and waited. At 7:30 AM a doe
caught me off guard, blew a freight train snort, and was gone. I thought that would put an end to the deer
parade, but 20 minutes later two more does came by in front of the blind. The larger
doe got into the blackberry vines before I could get a shot at her. She had been eyeing
the blind, but didn't seem too afraid of it. She started feeding and slowly circled back
into an opening long enough for a broadside shot. I heard the "twang" of the string at the shot, and the "whack" of the 100 grain Game Tracker GT Silvertip when it hit the
deer and cut completely through her, just behind the shoulders. The Hoton performed like a champ, and put the arrow right on the mark.
My first shot with the Horton Legend SL on the first meeting of the Old Deer Hunters
put venison in the freezer. Needless to say, I am hooked on crossbow hunting.
Try a crossbow. You will like it, I'm sure.