By John Simeone
As the war to fully legalize the crossbow in Louisiana comes to a final close, hunters get a special new challenge with “Uncle John's Law”....
Kade insisted on using his High Country compound bow which he had practiced diligently with for months. I had my misgivings because turkeys were difficult enough and this was his first turkey hunt. I gave in to his pleadings and we left the 12 gauge in the truck.
It was 2002 for the youth turkey hunt on private land, I was carrying nothing but camo, decoys and some very fine custom turkey calls. Little did we know from that day forward Kade and myself would be influencing Louisiana outdoor history.
To say the least they came to the call, 5 big gobblers strutted in front of the decoys along with about fifteen hens. I had called up a whole heard of turkeys. Kade's silent draw and release was a magnificent sight to behold, as I caught the glint of the Stinger broad-head just as it left the bow. The shot was perfect, but there was no reaction from the long-beard, well, at least at first. I was reminded of a Samari movie as the turkey just stood there for a long 5 seconds, and then attempted to turn his head, he then discovered he had been decapitated, when it almost fell off.
That was the first time we made Louisiana hunting history as Kade became the first and only youth hunter to ever take a wild turkey with a bow and arrow.
When the crossbow controversy started in Louisiana between the American Crossbow Federation
and The local chapter of the North American Bowhunter's Collition, I was the leader in the fight to get the crossbow legalized for all hunters in the state.
Four years later after much debate, the governor singed it into law as it read all quadrupeds and birds hunted with archery equipment could be hunted by all licensed hunters using a crossbow. At the time I didn't think about turkeys as the separate regulation don't come out until the springtime. Surely I thought they wouldn't leave out turkeys. But of course they found a way.
I found out just before the season opened as many new crossbow hunters were very upset with the what was believed to be an over sight. No it wasn't, and there would be no last minute correction, came the voice on the other end of the phone.
At that very moment I took off the gloves, and wrote the infamous outdoor article “Handicapped Hunters Shafted In Louisiana,” which still can be read in the news section at Foremost Hunting.com. The law was made for everybody but there was a clear need for the crossbow as many handicapped hunters could not use a vertical bow or a shotgun, due to the high recoil, some of these folks just couldn't go turkey hunting.
When the word got out of my clear intentions of taking the matter to court under a class action for the handicapped, very quietly I received word to cease fire, they were going to comply. Then while scanning the Louisiana department of wildlife and fisheries website, I found it in writing, and not until I saw this did I stand down from my original intentions. Call it “Uncle John's Law,” if you please, but I'm just glad it is over.
Did the crossbow help out with new hunter interest. Well according to the last deer harvest report 700 women alone killed deer with a crossbow state wide, now that is something I didn't expect. But the crossbow was not as popular as they thought it would be. Seemed like everywhere I went hunting I was the only one packing one during the bow season. OK so I missed a big 8 point, but at least I got to use it.
Now after the extra years wait, we get to go for turkey at last with the crossbow. I had my arrows cut just a little bit longer so I could use the guillotine broad head. Depending on the distance I'll use one of these or my standard Stinger. They both shoot good enough. But now you and I have a choice of shotgun, vertical or horizontal archery equipment, all of which is a true hunting challenge with the wild turkey. Pass it on....