For a member of the knightly class in the fifteenth century, hunting was far more than a simple hobby or pleasurable pastime--it was the very essence of life. Gaston III, compte de Foix, wrote in his treatise Livre de Chasse, or Book of the Hunt:tout mon temps me suis delite par especial en trois choses, l'une est en armes, l'autre est en amours, et l'autre si est en chasce..., or in "all my time I am delighted in three things, the one is in arms, the other is in love, and the other is in hunting." He would only claim to be an expert in the last.
Regardless to how the crossbow was viewed on the battlefield, it was ever a high-status hunting weapon. Unlike the longbow, a crossbow could be kept fully spanned for a considerable amount of time. The crossbows of noblemen sometimes had a veneer of intricately-carved stag horn and/or elaborate patterned inlays. I recently commissioned a fifteenth-century hunting crossbow from Danilo "Tod" Todeschini of Tod's Workshop. Tod's expert craftsmanship is featured extensively in Mike Loades's bookThe Crossbow.
Several years ago I joined Saint Hubert's Rangers, an international, online brotherhood of like-minded individuals dedicated to the medieval hunt. Members portray mid-to-late medieval Western European hunters and attempt to authentically recreate the clothing, accoutrements, and hunting gear appropriate for their station. Rangers research all aspects of the daily lives of medieval hunters and continually strive to improve on the period authenticity of their hunting apparel and gear.