Crossbow Hunting Regulations in New York

On this page you will learn about crossbow hunting regulations in the State of New York. Please keep in mind that information presented here should not be considered legal advice. We do our best to keep the information here current and accurate, however crossbow laws change often and so it’s always best that you check directly with your State agency to find out what the current regulations are.

Make sure to check out our list of top 5 recommended crossbows for hunting in the USA if you’re looking to get started.

Crossbow Hunting Regulations in New York

August 27th Update: The Department of Environmental Conservation has made it legal to hunt using a crossbow during the fall hunting season (an exception being the Nassau, Westchester, and Suffolk counties). You must be 14 years or older, have a Standard Hunter Education course that has been completed after April 1st (and which is offered by DEC), or an equivalent DEC-approved online course. A few other things to keep in mind:

– Taking any kind of fish (including carp) is NOT legal with a crossbow in New York.
– Your crossbow must come with a trigger safety mechanism.
– The draw weight must be a minimum of 100 and a maximum of 200 lbs.
– There is an imposed minimum on the length and width of the crossbow (24″ and 17″, respectively).

Please see here for details, and Happy Hunting!

As of December 31st 2012, crossbow hunting has become entirely illegan in the State of New York, unless one is almost completely physically disabled. However, thanks to Bill S1699-2013, this might change soon enough, although no guarantees can be given.

It’s possible to obtain a Modified Crossbow Permit (Statury: ECL Section 11-0901(16)), but only if your disability is severe enough that a regular vertical bow cannot be used for hunting even with the help of a mechanical device. If that is the case, a crossbow permit will allow you to use a device that allows for the discharge of an arrow through breathing into a special tube.

In order to obtain this permit, you will need to obtain certification from a New York licensed physician, stating that you are physically unable to release a pre-drawn vertical bow string even with the help of a mechanical device for string release. The permit may be obtained at no cost and it is valid for 5 years, after which it needs to be renewed. Please note that you must carry the permit with you at all times while hunting with your crossbow; not having it with you will result in a hefty fine.

You can begin the licensing procedure by getting in touch with NYSDEC’s Special Licenses Unit – call 518-402-8985.

Please also note that there might be different regulations in the State of New York with regards to the use of certain types of scopes, as well as the minimum draw weight on a hunting crossbow. These regulations tend to change quite often, so please inquire about them by calling the number above.

Did We Miss Something? Let Us Know

If you have any new information, or if you believe that the regulations above are no longer valid, we would really appreciate it if you could drop us an e-mail. We will check the facts and make any required updates if necessary.


Add a Comment
  1. This should be updated because NY now does have a crossbow season from 11/1/14 through 11/14/14 and you must obtain a muzzleloader tag to hunt with a crossbow. If you do not get a deer with the regular bow you can take 2 because you get 2 tags. You can also use the crossbow during the regular gun season and the muzzloader season effective this year

  2. New York State is the only state that has a 17 inch minimum width of a crossbow. Is there any logical reason for this? Many newer crossbows are 10 inches wide and are a lot safer. Is this law going to ever change? PA has no such limit.

  3. NYS DEC needs to update this. “A MINIMUM limb width of 17 inches uncocked”????? Seriously? That makes all RAVIN manufactured xbows illegal that I know of, Most of the new Ten Points xbows being manufactured, and I’m sure many more modern xbows. Today most are being produced with limb widths well below 17″ and have MORE FPS and kinetic energy than wider xbows of late.

  4. The breath tube rule does very little. I had a mastectomy three years ago which limits my draw to 15 pounds. I have a disabled archer form signed by my Dr., but I can not use the modifications allowed. A permit to use a crossbow during archery season with an automatic or crank cocking device would allow me to hunt again during bow season. Also its pretty limiting when I am teaching NYS Hunter safety education and I can show you a bow and crossbow, but can’t actually use one. This legislation would enable disabled bowhunters access to bowhunting seadon under certain conditions. Thank you. Feel free to contact me to get this legislation started.

  5. I use medical cannabis for PTSD. Am I able to hunt WhotebTail in New York State? Crossbow , bow or rifle?
    Any info is greatly welcomed.

  6. Since this is about hunting with crossbows. When are they going to change the law where you can hunt all of archery with a crossbow. Back in the day before compounds the people that hunted with recurves bitched about compounds. So let us hunt with crossbows. They are alot of laws that need to be changed

  7. I am a non resident that has a crossbow permit in Mass. I have had this for 10 years. Sold my compound bow. I can’t hunt early bow season in Southern New York. October 1 thru November 20. I have to wait till November 7 thru 20. The money I pay for non resident and being in my 60ties they should let us hunt from the beginning of the season. It cost me 30 bucks for a bow tag. I had to buy a muzzleloader tag for another 30 bucks to use my crossbow. Something needs to change.

  8. I agree . when i was young i didnt want a crossbow season in fear harvest would be greater so season would be shorter . But now im 55 torn shoulders , bad arm tendons and vision isnt so good from welding . the use of a crossbow would be awesome . What people dont understand i wish i could shoot a bow the way i once did . I made some awesome shots . Now all my guns have scopes and my bow has a draw lock which i hate but at least i can go out during bow season til the small crossbow season begins . Even Ohio and Pennsylvania are using them . New york makes big deals out of nothing . They will make a extra week of hunting in January but no crossbow .

  9. Why the width restriction in a few years you won’t find a crossbow that’s over 17” unless it’s sold on eBay or Craigslist new one much narrower please get up to date nys

  10. Cross bows should be able to be used during regular bow season..DEC keeps saying were not taking the DEC persribed anual take…so…no brainer let cross bow hunters take deer during the full season of bow

  11. The restriction of not allowing the crossbow to be less than 17 wide forbids the hunter to use the most safest, accurate and user friendly crossbows on the market! Presently a hunter using a crossbow from a tree stand, has to cock the bow on the ground and hoist it up to his stand, load a bolt (arrow) and prepare to hunt! If the crossbow should snag on the way up and cause it to discharge, it could shatter and possibly cause injury or death! Modern technology allows the crossbow to be cocked while safely in the tree stand by use of crank! It can loaded and unloaded while in the tree stand. Plus , being narrower, it can be easily maneuvered whole in a tree stand! I’ve asked numerous owners of hunting stores, politicians and hunters about the 17 inch minimum width restriction and no one can answer why it’s the law in New York State and not in any other state! Hunting safer should be our goal!

  12. Just wondering is the min width on a crossbow will change soon. It seems most new ones are much narrower! I don’t want to buy a old model. Thanks

  13. I find everything in New York State is just frustrating especially these hunting laws, New york bowl hunters are bitching about crossbows I was old enough to be around when we went from recurves to compound and now we’re having the same God damn bullshit whining and pissing and moaning about crossbows crossbows or a medieval firearm we should be able to use them all year around this is bullshit wake the hell up New York State you’re losing people

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