Industry experts indicate that the bulk of the hunters picking up a crossbow for the first time are firearm hunters looking to extend their season.
The second largest demographic is most likely older hunters who cannot or don't care to draw a longbow, recurve or compound bow any more. These are experienced hunters who can continue to enjoy their sport by simply switching tools.
"I respect and now love crossbows," said Dr. Doug Hahn of Cartersville, Ga. "But I miss a regular bow -- it is such a part of me. I always feel I should be drawing it before the shot."
Dr. Hahn, 70, was driven to crossbow hunting by a debilitating disease. He could be rifle hunting, but that's not his style. He has several vertical-bow records. Crossbows are closer to bows, he said. He just returned from a successful crossbow black bear hunt in Michigan.
Similarly, 69-year-old Fred Barfield reluctantly picked up a crossbow.
"I was against them for years," said the Pentecostal preacher who hunts in Minnesota and the South. But health issues made his longbow, recurve and even compound bow too difficult to draw.
"Then I actually shot one, and liked it ... I don't need a rifle with this weapon. I can hit bull's eyes all day long from 50 yards in my climber," he said.
In addition to a pulley system that helps him draw back the string, Barfield said crossbows are just easier to point and shoot.
No peep twist. No torque issues. No pin adjustments on the fly. No finding your anchor point.
Barfield used a 2X scope that came with his $1,000 Ten Point crossbow.
"It's always ready to go," said Barfield as he pulled a cocked crossbow from the ground to his climber by a hauling line. He slipped an arrow onto the rail, sat down and looked out over a clearing.
"I'm 69, you know. And I am still hunting," said the longtime hunter with a smile.