It's official - crossbows will be allowed during next year's regular and muzzleloader season, as well as during a special late season in the Southern Zone.
I know what most of you are thinking .... "so, what?"
I must concur - like I'm going to leave my Browning in the rack in favor of a device that tosses a bolt 2,700 feet per second slower.
Granted it is a baby step toward allowing crossbow enthusiasts the right to practice their craft in the Empire State.
But, for me, the legislation falls woefully short of its original intent because it doesn't allow those with physical limitations to hunt during the regular archery season with a crossbow.
I have a unique insight on this subject - I am one such person. My left hand remains partially-paralyzed after a negligent hunter sent a shotgun slug tearing through my neck in 1993.
Since that time, I've struggled to regain my ability to practice the sport I love. As I was recovering, one of the first questions I had of the physical therapists was "How am I ever going to bowhunt again?"
They had very few answers. We tried all sort of adaptive devices - metal forms that would hold my wrist straight. We tried velcro wraps to hold my hand to the bow.
Then, in 1995, a man named Jerry Goff came up with a device that could hold a bow at full draw, and New York passed legislation allowing such devices.
The device, called a Draw Loc, worked fabulously for me. I was bowhunting again - and I've since taken a number of deer with my adapted bow.
But, it does have limitations.
Fortunately for me I do have some use of my left hand, allowing me to at least grasp the bow. Others, like amputees, are not as lucky.
It also is awkward to hold a bow at full draw all the time. It gets very tiring, even from a sitting position, and some people simply do not have the arm or shoulder strength to do so or even hoist a bow.
So, why block these individuals from filling their bow tag by using a crossbow?
The use of crossbows is now allowed in some capacity in all but two states - and 18 states have provisions allowing physically-challenged hunters to use them during regular archery seasons.
Many provinces in Canada are the same. In fact, I leave in just a few short week's to hunt in Manitoba, where I am allowed to use a crossbow with my handicapped archer permit.
Some bowhunter groups - such as New York Bowhunters Inc. - have lobbied hard against the use of crossbows, even among the physically-challenged, arguing that there use would open the flood gates on applications from people perfectly capable of using a traditional bow.
That's like saying we shouldn't issue handicapped parking passes to people in wheelchairs because able-bodied people may abuse the right.
Why punish the disabled simply to control permit abuse? It seems to me this could be controlled through strict screening during the permitting process itself.
Bowhunter groups also argue that the use of crossbows would fill the woods with hunters during archery season - a time they have historically enjoyed to themselves.
But, the statistics don't seem to support the argument. In nearby Pennsylvania, for example, where crossbows have been allowed since 2009 for anyone possessing an archery license, the number of hunters has remained unchanged.
Granted bowhunters harvested a few more deer with crossbows - most likely because of their accuracy - but is that such a bad thing? I'd dare say less deer were wounded, and tags are issued to be filled.
And, let's face it, unless you hunt with a traditional recurve - there is little that remains "primitive" about today's compounds.
My compound bow, for example, because of its power stroke (the distance the bow string travels from full draw to rest position) is actually much faster than my crossbow. It's quieter, and I get better groups at 40 yards with it than I do my crossbow.
I'll be the first to admit it usually is my weapon of choice during the archery season.
I chose the crossbow for Manitoba, however, because it is easier to shoot given my physical limitations - especially in cold weather when my hand basically becomes a useless appendage at the end of my left arm with little to no mobility.
I'm not sure how anyone could in good conscience tell someone with a similar physical limitation they cannot bowhunt, with or without a crossbow - all in the name of somehow preserving the "purity of the sport."
John Gereau is managing editor of Denton Publications and a proud member of the Physically Challenged Bowhunters of America. He can be reached at email@example.com.