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Crossbow Hunting in Nova Scotia


This year we expected to be able to hunt deer with a crossbow during the early bow season in Nova Scotia. The required regulatory changes didn’t get made, however. So, for another season, a crossbow can be used for hunting deer only during the rifle season. We’ll hope for change next year though.


Last year legislative changes enabled the crossbow to be used for hunting species other than deer in Nova Scotia. This includes small game such as rabbits and partridge as well as coyote and bear.


The crossbow I prefer is a simple recurve type (not compound) made by Excalibur of Kitchener Ontario. Quality crossbows, like quality fly rods, have benefited by technological developments such as carbon fibre and specialized metallic alloys to become lightweight, durable, high-performance shooting equipment. Arrow speed is as high as 350 FPS, depending on model. Draw weight can be as high as 225 lbs., but use of a rope cocking aid reduces this by 50%, and an optional pocket winch enables young, old or disabled folks to cock and use a crossbow. Also, a crossbow produces very little recoil, practically nothing compared to a rifle’s recoil.


Excalibur crossbows fitted with a scope have phenomenal accuracy, every bit as good as a rifle. The effective range is much shorter than a rifle, similar to a bow, 10 – 30 yards.


Like most rifles, Excalibur crossbows have a manual safety mechanism. Safety issues are similar to those encountered with rifles and bows, but there are a few special considerations unique to crossbows. A crossbow is held horizontally instead of vertically like a bow. This makes it necessary for the shooter to ensure that the crossbow limbs won’t hit any vertical obstacles, like trees, when the crossbow is fired. Shooters are also warned to keep fingers and thumbs away from the bowstring path when firing the crossbow.  A “stirrup” on the front of the crossbow enables the shooter to place a foot in the stirrup (on the ground) when cocking the crossbow. It’s very important, to avoid serious injury, that the foot is firmly placed in the stirrup so the stirrup can’t slip off during cocking. If it does, a crossbow stock travelling at speeds approaching 350 FPS may hit you under the chin. Ouch! 


Like any bow used for hunting, accuracy is extremely important to ensure clean kills. Arrows don’t have the impact power of a rifle and will not break shoulder bones. They are designed to damage vital organs and blood vessels, so the hunter should expect a deer to travel 100 yds. or so before falling, and not rush to find the animal. Since an arrow doesn’t damage an animal like a high-calibre bullet, nearly all of the bow shot deer’s meat should be useable.


Crossbows require no permits for acquisition or possession, as do firearms. It is now possible to satisfy Nova Scotia’s education requirement for crossbow hunting by taking a course delivered via the Internet. The course requirement for a crossbow hunting stamp in Nova Scotia is now available online at www.hunterexam.com, requiring 3-4 hours of our time, along with a certification fee of $29.95 + HST. That certification is automatically added to our DNR record so it isn’t necessary to have our Wildlife Resources Card replaced, saving a few bucks.


If you’re even a little bit curious about crossbows, see or test drive one at River Magic in Stillwater.


Please send comments and suggestions to slim@rivermagic.ca


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