Top 3 Reasons to Carry a Crossbow on Public Land

If you bowhunt whitetails on public land and have the choice to carry a crossbow or vertical bow, here are three reasons why going horizontal makes the most sense.

Top 3 Reasons to Carry a Crossbow on Public Land


This youth hunter is all smiles after tagging a Wisconsin public land whitetail with a crossbow.

My Wisconsin whitetail pursuits are spent on a combo platter of private and public land. Because these private woodlots measure 160 acres or less, I’m careful to avoid overhunting them. Too much pressure means nocturnal bucks (bad) or animals that seek refuge on a neighbor’s land (worse), so I minimize private land intrusions by spending 30-40 percent of my time on public ground. Here’s why I carry a crossbow when going public in Wisconsin, a state that doesn’t restrict their use based on age or physical limitations.

1. No Treestand Required

State ground is perfect for morning bowhunts because I can leave my private land food plot setups for afternoon ambushes. I scout for thick bedding cover during midday hikes on public land, then build spartan-style ground blinds from natural cover. I return at a later date, arriving well before sunrise, to intercept deer on their way back from evening visits to agricultural fields.

2. Terrific Tripods and Stadium Seats


Alps OutdoorZ Backwoods

In my opinion, a crossbow should always be shot with a rest, and my No. 1 choice is a tripod. I sit butt on the ground, with camo netting over the tripod legs, which also helps hide me. I carry a lightweight stadium cushion such as an Alps OutdoorZ Backwoods for much-needed back support. That way, I’m prepared if my makeshift blind doesn’t include a good-sized backrest tree. Carrying a crossbow, short tripod and stadium seat a mile or more into remote public land honey-holes is much easier and quieter than hauling a treestand of any size or style.

3. Loaded for Deer

Drawing a vertical bow without being busted by deer is always a challenge from the ground. With a cocked crossbow already supported on a tripod, however, I simply slip off the safety when I spot a whitetail in the distance, then lean into the scope when the deer steps behind a tree. Because the cover is thick, I plan for shots of 20 yards or less on animals that are totally relaxed.


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