Carrying a Crossbow Afield
In order to get from you vehicle or home to your treestand or your ground blind, you’re going to have to carry your crossbow. There are many options when it comes to carrying your crossbow afield. Should you carry your crossbow in your hands the entire time or maybe on a backpack? Should you cock your crossbow and carry it loaded or wait until you get to your hunting location? In this segment of the crossbow safety and education series, we’ll take a look at carrying your crossbow afield, show you some methods of transporting your crossbow, and discuss whether or not to walk with your crossbow cocked or loaded to and from your hunting spot.
Let’s first take a look at methods of carrying your crossbow. The first and most basic way is to carry it by hand. Many times, this is the way I personally walk in the woods with my crossbow. You can carry your bow in the same way you would carry a shotgun or a rifle. You can hold it in a ready position, across your body, or most times I put it over my shoulder when walking in. If you decide that you want to carry your crossbow by hand, then use whatever method that you feel most comfortable with.
For most of you, you will use a shoulder sling to carry your crossbow to and from your hunting location. Shoulder slings are good because they free up your hands to carry other items you might need such as a seat or stool, or maybe some rattling horns. One thing you’ll find different with crossbows as compared to guns is that crossbows are top heavy, so you may find that your bow wants to keep sliding off of your should when using a sling. Some guys will actually carry their crossbows in the downward position so that they are not fighting gravity the entire time.
If you have a long trek to and from your hunting location, or you’ll be hunting out west, you might want to take a look at crossbow specific backs such as this one called the bolt from Bohning Archery. Most of these packs securely hold your crossbow in place while walking or hiking and they allow both hands to be free. And if you should find yourself in a situation where you need to quickly grab your crossbow, most have a quick release feature that will allow to gain access to your crossbow without removing the pack.
Ok, now that we’ve discussed ways to carry your crossbow afield, lets talk about when you should cock your crossbow and also when you should load your crossbow. Unless your state game laws say otherwise. I always cock my crossbow at the truck before entering the woods. Even in the morning when it’s still dark out I’ll cock my bow. That way I’m not making any extra noise in the woods cocking it, especially if I have a crank style cocking aid, or if I forget my rope cocking aid in my crossbow case, it’ll be right there in the vehicle and I won’t have to walk all the way back from the woods to get it. Now as far as when to load an arrow into your crossbow, in many states it’s illegal to have a loaded crossbow before or after legal hunting hours. So if you’re walking in or out of the woods in the dark, there is no reason to have a loaded crossbow. But during daylight hours, if you are still hunting your way into your stand, then there is no reason you shouldn’t have your crossbow loaded if you feel comfortable doing so. On the flip side, if you are riding a four wheeler to your hunting location and your crossbow is in a rack, there is no reason to keep your bow loaded. Walking with a loaded crossbow can be a controversial topic. Many crossbow hunters are for it and many are against it. But the decision is yours to make based on your comfort level with your crossbow. You should however treat a loaded crossbow like a loaded firearm and always be aware of the direction it is pointing.