"If there's something out there and people have a way to get it, they're going to get it," he said. "Just look at handicap parking. If I go to Walmart on a rainy day, I can count on having to park my van out on the edge of the parking lot and ride my [wheel]chair in because so many able-bodied people have pulled into the handicap parking spots, put their handicap placards on the dashboard and strolled into the store."
Still, he said the number of people who are obtaining crossbow permits doesn't concern him.
"I don't resent people for doing that," he said. "Think of it this way - a good many of those 18,000 people are bowhunting now who, for one reason or another, might not have been able to before."
One concern voiced by able-bodied bowhunters is that the high number of crossbow users might ultimately deplete the number of deer available to all sportsmen.
Paul Johansen, the DNR's assistant wildlife chief, said that isn't likely to happen.
"When you're talking reducing the number of deer, you're talking mainly about removing a certain percentage of females from the population," he said. "So far we have seen no significant impact in that regard from the use of crossbows."
The chief gripe DNR officials have with the high number of crossbow permits they've been required to issue is financial, not biological. Wildlife chief Taylor said it costs the agency $6 in staff time and materials to issue each permit.
"It's an unfunded mandate," he said. "We have to process the applications, produce the licenses, and maintain a database. Eighteen thousand permits at $6 a pop - you do the math. But we're bound by the laws of the state, so we do it."
Taylor believes if the agency were allowed to charge a small fee to cover the costs, the number of permit-seekers would drop significantly.
"At the same time, that would be like charging a guy who wants to muzzleloader hunt 10 or 12 bucks just to muzzleloader hunt," he said. "As far as the law is concerned, a crossbow is just a bow - and bowhunting is allowed under the basic license, no special permit needed."
Taylor said that since the Legislature created the mandate, legislative action would be required to make any changes in the way permits are issued.
"Our job is to do what the legislation calls for us to do, and that's what we've been trying to do," he said.