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Sportsmen mull crossbows, turkeys

Crossbow legalization and turkey-taking tactics were top topics during the May meeting of the Western and Central New York Chapter of Safari Club International on Wednesday evening.

Recently elected Assemblyman Sean Ryan (D-Buffalo), a west Buffalo resident, has a lifelong involvement in the outdoors. An angler and involved upland game hunter, Ryan recalled his many years afield with his German shorthaired pointer during his presentation at the Safari Club International meeting at Michael's Banquet Facility in Hamburg.

Shortly after taking office as a state Assemblyman, Ryan learned of extensive efforts to legalize the crossbow as a hunting device in all seasons. A bill previously passed had been altered by a lobbying sector of bow hunters to allow hunting with a crossbow only during the big-game gun season. That bill was given a sunset/termination date.

"The Assembly bill I'm sponsoring (A9682) will give the Department of Environmental Conservation complete control of crossbow use with no 'sunset' term to it," Ryan explained. He recalled the many problems emerging with phrasings of earlier crossbow bill proposals.

Factions assert their interests and stipulations; experts offer concerns and advice that often prolong matters. Legislation remains tentative and terminal. But no resolve is met and outdoors groups continue wrangling on major and fine points.

Sen. Patrick Gallivan (R-Elma) had previously sponsored the Senate bill in the same version. Like Ryan, Gallivan wants to enact legislation that will eliminate bickering among sportsmen factions and expand hunting opportunities.

Ryan, a hunter who spends much time in bird-hunting fields, noted that more liberal legalization of crossbows would recruit young hunters and keep impaired and aging huntsmen afield.

Jim Monteleone, SCI vice president, pointed to the recent successes of hunter recruitment in Michigan following the legalization of crossbows in all hunting seasons there.

Tom Povhe of Gowanda serves as Western New York rep for the New York Crossbow Coalition (, a statewide effort to expand crossbow use. Povhe and others with NYCC impressed Ryan with their presence and reasoned input during an Albany Legislative Awareness Day on March 20. Povhe will be manning a booth during the Zoar Fest on the banks of Cattaraugus Creek on Saturday. For details on this event and NYCC membership, call him at 725-5117.

Chris Schotz coordinates the Third Annual Crossbow Demonstration day at the Wilson Conservation Club, 2934 Wilson Cambria Road, on June 2. Schotz has seven major crossbow manufacturers set up with gear that hunters and shooters can try on the spot. For details, check with Schotz at 731-1642, with Rich Culverwell at 751-6267, or with Bill Hilts Sr. at 731-9984.

Monteleone offered some sound advice about turkey-hunting basics. His leading suggestion is not to get caught up in gear and gadgets but stick with basics and stay focused in the field until the noon-hour close.

Monteleone cited one outstanding product exception -- Matt Stephenson's metal turkey call he considers good gear -- not a gadget. Stephenson markets his Out of the Box Game Calls in Amherst. To view this call device, go to

For now, legislators and crossbow supporters look for permanent changes in crossbow hunting use and turkey hunters look forward to a challenging but enjoyable season through the month of May.