Crossbow issue promises to stir debate in N.D. LegislatureWhen lawmakers convene next winter, legislation allowing crossbows as legal gear for archery deer hunting is likely to get the attention of hunters on both sides of the fence.
By: Brad Dokken, Grand Forks Herald
The 2011 session of the North Dakota Legislature is still nearly nine months away, but there’s already one hot-button issue brewing on the outdoors front.
And no, it has nothing to do with baiting for deer.
When lawmakers convene next winter, legislation allowing crossbows as legal gear for archery deer hunting is likely to get the attention of hunters on both sides of the fence.
Officials from the North Dakota Game and Fish Department touched on the crossbow issue Tuesday night during the agency’s spring advisory board meeting in Fordville, N.D. Already, it appears, a lawmaker from southwestern North Dakota has indicated plans to introduce a bill that would legalize crossbows.
North Dakota law currently states a bow “must be pulled, held, and released by hand.” A crossbow, by comparison, uses a trigger to release the arrow. Crossbows now are legal only for hunters with a proven medical disability who obtain a permit from the Game and Fish Department.
Randy Kreil, wildlife division chief for Game and Fish in Bismarck, urged sportsmen attending Tuesday night’s meeting to keep tabs on the crossbow issue. Allowing crossbows, he said, would put deer management in a “different realm” because the number of archery hunters in the state likely would swell from 17,000, the average in recent years, to perhaps twice that number, if not more.
Kreil predicted the issue will be contentious if it surfaces in the Legislature.
Game and Fish Director Terry Steinwand said he recently had a chance to try a crossbow. At 40 yards, Steinwand said he was able to direct his arrows into a grouping not much larger than the diameter of a pop can. With a conventional bow, Steinwand said, his grouping was more like the diameter of a 5-gallon pail.
“They’re just as effective as a rifle,” Steinwand said of crossbows.
Regardless of where you stand on the crossbow issue — there’s no doubt where Game and Fish officials stand — look for any legislation to generate plenty of heated debate next winter.
Longtime Minnesota warden dies at 90
Northwestern Minnesota lost a legend in the world of fish and game enforcement last week with the passing of Al Markovich.
Markovich, of Roseau, Minn., died April 10 at the age of 90. His funeral was Friday in Roseau.
Growing up in Roseau County, I never knew Markovich, but I certainly knew the name. He was one of those larger-than-life figures who often went to creative lengths to catch poachers.
Stuart Bensen, who’s now a conservation officer for the Department of Natural Resources in Erskine, Minn., said he had the opportunity to work with Markovich as a rookie in Roseau in the early 1980s.
While he wasn’t there to see it, Bensen said one of his favorite Markovich stories involved a poacher who was spearing northern pike as they ran up a creek from Lake of the Woods to spawn. The road to the creek was in clear view, Bensen recalled, so Markovich wasn’t able to catch the poacher in the act without being spotted.
That is, until he borrowed a bicycle from a person who lived nearby and peddled right up to catch the poacher with spear in hand.
What game warden — as they were called in Minnesota in those days — would be out on a bicycle, after all?
“He was an absolute legend,” Bensen said. “He was a man from an era gone by, but still, his name stands forever in the communities up there. Everybody knew he had a job to do, and they respected him because he treated everybody equally. He loved his cigars, and he loved his coffee.”
Dokken reports on outdoors. Reach him at (701) 780-1148; (800) 477-6572, ext. 148; or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.