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Best Crossbow for Deer Hunting

6. Crossbow for Deer Hunting

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If you’ve never tried bow hunting before, but this season you’ve developed an itch for it, then a crossbow might be the right way to go. Although not every jurisdiction allows crossbow deer hunting, it is a pretty straightforward way to be introduced to archery. As long as you can physically cock the bolt back, much like you’d prepare a gun to fire, then there’s a good chance that you’ll find some success in filling your tags for an extra season. This guide will help you find the best crossbow for deer hunting.

The Best Chart for Deer Hunting Crossbows

Just about any crossbow can be used for hunting. What you’ve got to do is find one that is the right weight, has the best sights, and has a reputation of firing straight and true. The chart below offers you a glimpse of the best crossbows in this category that will help you get the job done.

PictureNameOur RatingVelocity Power (Feet per Second)
PictureNameOur RatingVelocity Power (Feet per Second)
SA Sports Fever Crossbow Package 4.4
SDN Black Metal Hunting Crossbow 4.0
Barnett Jackal Crossbow Package 4.2
Carbon Express X-Force 350 Crossbow Kit 4.4
Last Punch Wood Crossbow w/ Scope 4.2
Barnett Outdoors Brotherhood Crossbow Package 4.5
PSE Fang Crossbow 4.5
Barnett Penetrator Crossbow Package 4.4
Barnett Recruit Compound Crossbow Package 4.4

What Is a Crossbow For Deer Hunting? Should I Get One?

Crossbows have been around since the Middle Ages, but this history has also developed some legends about this weapon that aren’t necessarily true. A crossbow isn’t going to fire a bolt like a gun. Even the best crossbows on the market tend to top out at 350 FPS, which is about one-third the speed of a gun and that’s if you can manage a 175 pound draw weight.

The advantage of using a crossbow for deer hunting is that you get to partake in a bow season (if legally allowed) without the same challenges as a recurve bow or a compound bow. Crossbows are aimed and fired much like a gun, but everything else about them is very similar to the other bows.

For example: you could probably fire a bolt from a crossbow upwards of 1,000 feet. You just wouldn’t know where that bolt would land. You might be able to hit your target, but you’re more likely to hit nothing at all. At best, a crossbow bolt is lethal at 100 yards with practice and under 40 yards if you’ve never really used this weapon before.

Can you get big game? Potentially. You’ve also got a chance of getting nothing at all if you aren’t 100% sure that you can properly operate your crossbow.

How to Cock Your Crossbow for Deer Hunting

With some crossbows having a draw weight of 150 pounds or more, being able to cock your crossbow is the first challenge you must consider. Some bows offer you a foot rest for manual cocking so all you have to do is place your foot in the proper location and then use two hands to leverage the string into place. You’ll still need to deadlift the full draw weight, however, and that’s not suitable for all hunters.

Some crossbows are designed to utilize rope cocking instead. This allows you to reduce the draw weight by about 50%, but it also means you’ll have to draw 2x as much to properly cock the crossbow for firing. Most models will require you to have a foot stirrup for stability as well.

If a 75 pound draw weight is too much, but you feel like a crossbow is right for you, then crank cocking models are the way to go. Using a small crank handle, you would just continue cranking the string back until it is cocked. This usually requires the equivalent of a 10 pound draw weight, which is suitable for just about everyone. 

Ethical Hunting Standards for Crossbows

Here’s the bottom line: if you wound an animal while hunting, are you going to be able to track it? A bow hunter always wants a clean hit and a blood trail to track if a one-shot kill doesn’t happen, but you’ve got to be aware of your skills. If you’re not sure you can make the shot, then don’t take the shot in the first place.

Knowing what crossbow bolt works best for your selected equipment is also important. Many first-time hunters tend to look for the lightest arrow possible, but this isn’t always the best solution. Heavier bolts tend to provide better accuracy while hunting, but lighter arrows will give you longer distances. Speed sells in this industry, but sometimes a heavier bolt will give you an advantage with your shot while reducing the risks of a misfire, which could cause a serious injury.

Heavier bolts also make a crossbow quieter while firing, which is almost a necessity when deer hunting with this equipment.

What Are the Prices of Crossbows Today?

Entry-level crossbows can be found online for $50-$100 or less, but these are more for target practice and becoming familiar with the equipment more than anything. If you’ve never tried using a crossbow before, this would be the type of bow we’d recommend, as you won’t waste a lot of cash if you decide that this type of hunting isn’t really for you.

Most crossbows built for deer hunting are going to be found in the $150-$300 price range. On the lower end of the spectrum you will find feature-specific models, while the upper end tends to provide more of an all-around experience.

Premium crossbows, which often include kits that include bolts that meet manufacturer specifications, are priced above $400. Although an investment, you can also take these bows out hunting once you receive them and potentially fill your tags.

What Do Our Reviews Have to Say?

Barnett Brotherhood

This is one of the best crossbows we’ve ever fired. The high-energy cam system is complimented by an ADF trigger system, which keeps your shot straight, fast, and true. Drawing takes a little effort, but was to be expected with the quality of this design. A foot stirrup is included to help with cocking. You will want to be very proactive with waxing the string on this particular model. The recommendation is to wax after every 10 shots – we found it worked better to wax after every 6-8 shots to avoid minor issues with consistency. This crossbow definitely earns our recommendation.

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This crossbow is a solid entry-level model, which we can see taking out for a hunt or two if you’re looking to have some fun. The arrow speed of 220 FPS didn’t blow us away, but the lightweight design and ease of use helped to make up for the lack of speed. You receive a 4×20 scope and a dozen bolts with this crossbow as well, but we would recommend upgrading to a laser sight for best results. Best for shots within 30 yards, we found this to be an enjoyable crossbow and believe you’ll have fun using it too.

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SAS Jaguar

This crossbow performed as we expected it would upon our first impression. The auto safety cocking mechanism was functional, performing as it should with the 175 pound draw weight. The compression molded fiberglass limb was relatively quiet upon use and the composite stock was comfortable for carrying and firing. Younger archers will probably need a cocking mechanism assist when using this crossbow. At this price range, we’re impressed with the power displayed up to 40 yards, but ultimately this is more of a beginner’s crossbow than for routine hunting.

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PSE Fang

This might be the pound-for-pound best crossbow that is on the market today. You receive speed, accuracy, and versatility while staying under 7 pounds for the entire setup. The power stroke of 14.25” is suitable for this design and the overall length of 35 inches makes it comfortable to fire for most users. The 155 pound draw weight was a little odd at first, but easy to get used to using after a few shots. There’s also an anti-dry fire trigger, removable scope (and we recommend removing ita0, but be careful with the limbs to avoid damage to the crossbow. We found it to be accurate up to 75 yards.

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Last Punch

If you want more of a throwback feel to your crossbow, then we think you’ll enjoy this particular model. The stock is made from real wood and the design is very reminiscent of many rifles that you’d take deer hunting. This makes the transition from gun to bow a lot easier for many hunters. The 4×20 scope included was surprisingly helpful and the 150 pound draw weight will give you a relatively fast and accurate shot. It’s best used within 60 yards, but we found that with a little practice, we could hit a stationary target at 100 yards rather consistently. It won’t outperform premium models, but as an introductory model it is a solid option.

Click here to compare pricing on Amazon and get a great deal.

The best crossbow for deer hunting will give you the chance to transition to a new season without much difficulty. If you’re up for a new challenge this year and have some time to practice before hunting, then get your preferred crossbow, get your tags, and then prepare to fill your quota this year having more fun than ever before.

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