Alabama's Legislative Council voted 15-8 Thursday to loosen the state's hunting laws to allow turkey hunting decoys and crossbows. The changes were sought by groups seeking to expand the $1.5 billion hunting industry in the state.
The new rules permit the use of crossbows by all hunters, beginning with Alabama's deer archery season Oct. 15 and permit the use of non-mechanized turkey decoys in the spring turkey season, which starts Mar. 15 in most counties.
The proposed rules prompted a heated debate throughout the summer in a state where hunting is family tradition. A public comment period drew more than 3,000 responses, with more than three-fourths of them favorable.
Legislators said they were flooded with letters, phone calls and e-mails that were reminiscent of past debates over creating a state lottery.
Crossbows are appealing to aging hunters who want to continue the sport but are losing strength in their chests. Other longtime hunters say crossbows make it too easy to kill a deer.