Ala. Hunters Slam Relaxation of Restrictions

Alabama's relaxation of hunting restrictions has drawn the ire of an unlikely group — hunters themselves.

The criticism centers on the state's decision to allow anyone to use crossbows (search), which were once reserved for the disabled.

Archery season begins a month before the regular season so that bow hunters can have a fair shot before hunters with guns enter the woods.

Archer Lynn Harrelson, who uses a regular draw-string bow, is upset with the move.

"If we continue to make the seasons more liberal and continue to bring in more and more weapons and extend it to people in primitive season to bows that are just, to me, a poacher's weapon — where do we stop?" Harrelson asks.

Other hunters say that by allowing the use of crossbows, turkey decoys and sights on muzzle-loaders, Alabama regulators are compromising the integrity of the sport just to increase the sale of hunting licenses and products.

State officials insist relaxed restrictions on crossbows and other non-traditional hunting methods are intended to give people more options.

"This has opened up numerous opportunities for additional bow hunters who, for one reason or another, can't draw a traditional bow because of physical impairments or age," said Kevin Dodd of the Alabama Conservation Department (search).

Hunter Mark Whitlock, who was forced to give up traditional bow hunting four years ago because of physical problems, said he's grateful for the new rules because he won't have to apply for a disability permit before hunting with a crossbow next season.

"Now I can go back and do what I like to do in October, which is sit in the tree and just have a good time away from the phone," Whitlock said.

Click on the video box above for a complete report by FOX News' Jonathan Serrie.