Deer hunting with a crossbow has become a very popular form of hunting over the past several decades, and it's only getting bigger.

Some traditionalists might not be the biggest fan of this, while newcomers to hunting look at it as a fun, easy entry pathway to getting into the outdoors. 

If you're still on the fence, or trying to understand a little bit more about this sub-area of hunting, I wanted to provide a few highlights. 

What Is Deer Hunting With A Crossbow?

Deer hunting with a crossbow is simply the choice to use a crossbow as your style of weapon while hunting deer, more specifically white-tailed deer.

Just like archery, muzzleloading, shotgun, and rifle, crossbow hunting has its own rules and regulations to ensure it's done in the most safe and ethical way possible. 

While crossbows aren't allowed in every state, if they are, those using this style of weapon must abide by the laws outlined by each individual state... which differ depending on location.

Are Crossbows Good For Deer Hunting?

If you're trying to get into the sport of deer hunting, crossbows can be one of the safest, easiest, and most ethical forms of killing a deer.

Of course, I know several hunters might disagree with exactly how easy or difficult it is and if it should be allowed, but that's a subjective argument.

However, if you break down a crossbow, it provides a cheaper and safer option when compared to guns, but an easier to learn option when compared to standard archery.

How Did It Become So Popular Over The Years?

Crossbows were largely banned before the 70's and 80's due to poor stereotypes and fears that it would negatively impact deer populations and the sport of hunting.

Since that time, states have relaxed their regulations, opening up more opportunities to see the true impact of the sport. 

Now that states have provided more leeway, and the United States is seeing aging cohorts of hunters, the sport has gained quite a bit of traction of the past 20 or so years.

This, along with the fact that crossbow technology has only gotten better and better and is more exciting-looking, only helps the growth!

Pros And Cons Of Hunting Deer With A Crossbow


1. Accessibility: Crossbows are often more accessible to hunters who may have physical limitations that prevent them from using traditional bows. 

2. Accuracy: Crossbows are generally easier to aim and shoot accurately compared to traditional bows.

3. Power and Range: Crossbows typically have greater power and range compared to traditional bows, allowing hunters to take down larger game at greater distances.


1. Reload Time: Compared to firearms, crossbows have a slower rate of fire and require more time to reload between shots.

2. Mechanical Complexity: Crossbows are mechanical devices that require regular maintenance and care to ensure optimal performance.

3. Legal Restrictions: In certain areas, crossbow hunting may be subject to specific regulations and restrictions imposed by wildlife management agencies.

Key Questions To Ask

1. Where Do You Aim On A Deer With A Crossbow?

When trying to determine where to shoot a deer with a crossbow, there's really no difference between this weapon and any other weapon.

To put it simply, the most lethal shot is going to be one that properly hits the heart and or lungs. From there, your lethality starts to diminish. 

2. What Is The Effective Range Of A Crossbow For Deer Hunting?

For some reason, people are always very interested in how for a crossbow can shoot.

If you're deer hunting, the most effective range is 10-20 yards, with many crossbows providing opportunities to expand this out to 50 yards.

3. What Type Of Crossbow Should I Use For Deer Hunting?

I would recommend a compound crossbow, either forward or reverse draw, with a minimum draw weight of 150 lbs. 

If you use this as your parameters, and choose from any of the brands mentioned below, you should put yourself in a good spot.

4. Are Crossbows Better Than Bows For Hunting? 

When comparing crossbows vs. bows, there are quite a few things to consider. 

First, crossbows are much easier to shoot and much more accurate than compound or traditional bows. 

As far as price, hunters can find affordable options within both categories, with crossbows offering slightly more expensive packages if outfitted with high-end scopes.

Of course, you'll find many that say bows offer a more rewarding experience due to the time needed to perfect a shot, especially while in an intense hunting situation.

5. What Crossbow Brands Should I Consider Before Purchasing?

If you're looking for a top crossbow brand, I would consider TenPoint, Ravin, Barnett, Killer Instinct, or Wicked Ridge.

What To Avoid When Hunting Deer With A Crossbow

1. Not Practicing Before The Hunt

While crossbows are much easier to manage and shoot than standard bows, that doesn't mean you should avoid preparation.

Similar to hunting with a shotgun or rifle, time needs to be dedicated to practice to ensure your shots are accurate.

Above everything, hunters need to do their best to ensure an accurate for ethical purposes. 

2. Shooting Free-Handed

Similar to the comments made above, crossbows are much easier to easier than compound bows but that doesn't mean it offers unlimited forgiveness.

Today's crossbows are now producing high arrow speeds, which means that any small movement while shooting can result in wildly inaccurate shots. 

For this reason, I would recommend shooting with some type of crossbow rest, whether it be a tripod style or simply resting it on something static like a stand or blind window, to make sure you're putting yourself in the best position possible.

3. Not Having Your Crossbow Cocked

In my several decades of hunting, I've ran across several shot opportunities when entering or exiting the field or my stand.

If you're planning on hunting deer with a crossbow, you have to realize that a crossbow is the most difficult weapon to prepare for shot. It can take quite a bit of time, while producing a large amount of noice, to cock and ready your crossbow.

If you have a crossbow that offers a de-cocking mechanism, I would suggest cocking your crossbow with a bolt ready when you enter your hunting area. You never know what could happen!

Also, check out the new 2024 TenPoint Crossbows!