Crossbow Hunting Permit Fact Sheet

Safety Course, License and Permit Requirements:

  • To purchase a crossbow hunting permit, a person must provide satisfactory evidence of the following:
    • Successful completion of an archery hunting education program or a firearms hunter safety course AND
    • Successful completion of a crossbow hunting education program. (There is no set order in which the courses must be taken) OR
    • Proof of having previously held any valid hunting license) in any year after 1976 and a valid permit or license that authorized the use of a crossbow in any year after 1979 (that is not a junior hunting license or an apprenticeship hunter license).
    NOTE: Existing license holders who have already held an archery or hunting license and want to try crossbow hunting only need to complete either the online crossbow course for $30 or attend one of the in-person crossbow courses (often free but facility fees may apply) that the Department offers periodically, to become eligible to purchase a crossbow permit.
  • When proof or evidence cannot be otherwise provided, the applicant may substitute a signed affidavit that the applicant has previously held the required completed archery hunting education program or hunter safety course and crossbow hunting education program or has previously held any valid hunting license  and a valid permit or license that authorized the use of a crossbow (that is not a junior hunting license or an apprenticeship hunter license).
  • Crossbow hunting courses are now available online or in-person classes listed on our website.

Junior hunters and apprentice hunters:

  • Valid junior hunting license holders may hunt with a crossbow without completing any hunter education courses or purchasing a crossbow permit but both junior hunters and apprentice hunters must be under supervision of a hunter supervisor who meets the legal requirements to supervise them.
  • Hunters who have turned 16 but who continue to hunt on their junior hunting license for the remainder of that calendar year must have completed the hunter safety course for the implement in which they choose to hunt if they want to hunt unsupervised.

Hunters under the age of 65:

  • May hunt any wild bird or animal with a crossbow during any open season on that bird or animal while still following all other laws pertinent to that species including:
    • Hunt deer, moose, and bear with a crossbow during the applicable firearms seasons, hunt turkey in both the spring and fall turkey seasons with a crossbow and hunt deer during the regular October archery season on deer.
    • Take an antlerless deer by use of crossbow during the regular October archery season on deer if that person has an antlerless deer permit via the antlerless deer permit lottery.
    • Take an antlerless deer by use of crossbow during the Firearms season on deer if that person has an antlerless deer permit via the antlerless deer permit lottery.
  • May not hunt deer with a crossbow:
    • during the muzzleloader season; or
    • during the expanded archery season (Except during the regular October archery season. Deer killed with a crossbow may not be registered with an expanded archery permit.)

Hunters age 65 and over and hunters who have a special permanent disability permit to hunt with a crossbow:

  • May hunt any wild bird or animal with a crossbow during any open season on that bird or animal while still following all other laws pertinent to that species including:
    • Hunt deer, moose, and bear with a crossbow during the applicable firearms seasons, hunt turkey in both the spring and fall turkey seasons with a crossbow and hunt deer during the regular October archery season on deer.
  • May hunt deer with a crossbow:
    • during the muzzleloader season;
    • during the expanded archery season under the authority of the expanded archery permit; and
    • Take a deer of either sex during the regular October archery season without having an antlerless deer permit (only in wildlife management districts in which antlerless deer permits have been issued).

For more information on laws specific to crossbow equipment, hunter orange laws related to crossbow use and specific areas where use of crossbow is not permitted even during the 2020, 2021, 2022 regular October archery hunting seasons, please visit mefishwildlife.com/huntinglaws