What Crossbow Can Kill a Deer?

Last Updated: 14.07.19


These days more and more hunters use high velocity crossbows and crossbow bolts to hunt deer and other animals. In the past, this way of hunting was mostly reserved for people with disabilities.

However, in recent months states like Wisconsin, Texas, and even New York changed many of their regulations and now allow the general hunting community to hunt big game by using crossbows. Here is some more information about deer hunting with a crossbow.

Recurve vs. compound

There are two main types of hunting crossbows on the market: recurve and compound. Both these types are completely capable of taking down large game if used correctly. However, they are different in many aspects and depending on your hunting style these differences may work toward or against your advantage.

Each one of these types of hunting crossbows comes with its own characteristics, advantages, and disadvantages. Therefore, when people ask themselves which one is better to use for killing deer, for example, they must realize that there are many aspects to consider first. Read the following paragraphs and find out more about them before purchasing a crossbow.



One of the most important characteristics of a crossbow is the speed of its fired bolt. Regarding this aspect, compound crossbows give the projectiles much more speed than recurve crossbows. The compound crossbow limbs can be placed under much more tension which translates into more power delivered to the bolt which in turn means a greater velocity.

There are people who claim that speed is not an extremely important characteristic of crossbows because the majority of animals are not able to dodge a bolt that flies at speeds above 200 ft/s. However, the speed alone is not the point. The speed is only an indicator of the crossbow’s takedown power.

In addition, a powerful crossbow can launch heavier bolts more easily and send them flying straighter and at a greater distance. Therefore, speed translates into greater stopping power and more range.

If you are planning on hunting deer, crossbows that shoot at a speed of over 300 ft/s are more than suitable for the job. You can, of course, choose even more powerful ones, but always keep within the limits set by the law.


Draw weight

Another crossbow characteristic that directly determines its power is the draw weight. Most hunting crossbows have draw weights that range between 75 pounds and 125 pounds. However, if you plan on getting a crossbow fit for deer hunting, you have to search for one that has a draw weight of at least 150 pounds.

This gives you more chances of achieving that one shot kill by sending the bolt deep into the deer’s flesh with precision. It’s worth mentioning that you have to keep in mind the legal limits, as this criterion is under strict regulation. Most states do not allow hunting with crossbows that have draw weights above 175 pounds.


Noise level

The noise level of a crossbow model doesn’t directly have an impact on its takedown power. However, the more powerful a crossbow is, the more noise it makes. You can safely assume that if the weapon provides great speed to its bolts and has a high draw weight, it will certainly make considerable noise when firing.

Although this criterion is not important before you take the first shot at the deer, it certainly may become an obstacle if you must take a second or third shot. This is why sometimes, even though your crossbow is able to kill, it could at the same time scare the deer into running away from you.

The solution to this problem is to make a compromise. Try using less powerful crossbows as they are quieter and always look for the decibel rating if you can find it in the specifications. Many crossbows come with sound-dampening devices. These are attached or can be bought separately and fitted by the hunter.


Size and weight

When acquiring hunting crossbows, a good idea would be to look for narrower models. They are more versatile and make deer hunting easier in most cases, regardless of your hunting style. A narrow crossbow is more maneuverable and is easy to handle especially if you are hunting from tree stands or if you are ground blind hunting. Moreover, narrow crossbows are lighter as well.

On the other hand, if you are the type of hunter who patiently waits only in a single spot and you tend to lure the pray rather than go after it, a wider design for the crossbow might suit you better. It is true that they can be heavier, but then again, you do not have to move much.

That being said, every hunter has to come out of hiding and go chase or track the prey. Being light on your feet is almost a necessity and as the crossbow is one of the largest pieces from your hunting gear it’s a good idea not to carry a heavy one with you. Try to buy a crossbow that weighs less than 6 lbs, if you can.

Product quality

If you want to kill your prey, you must buy high-quality products. Products that are “made in China” flooded the markets because they are inexpensive. However, the reason why they are so inexpensive is that they come from an environment that has a cheap workforce, uses cheap materials and skips many quality-control checks to save even more money.

This is why, even though the product may be advertised as having a set of attributes and characteristics, many times it does not and it falls apart right in your hands. To be sure that you are going to use a high-quality product and you will enjoy your deer hunting experience, look for authentic American or even Canadian products.



To be able to hunt for deer, you first have to determine your hunting style. Learn the difference between compound and recurve bows and see which one fits you best. From there, as long as you buy a crossbow that has a draw weight above 150 lbs, and you buy a decent quality product, nothing stands in your way.



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