Texas reconsiders air guns for big-game hunting
Friday, May 11, 2018
Though the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission originally approved air guns and air bows as a legal method of take for big game during their previous commission meeting in March, some members of the commission appear to be having second thoughts regarding that decision. For that reason, the commission plans on readdressing the issue at its next public meeting on May 24 in Lubbock.
Current regulations only permit hunters to use air guns and air bows to harvest squirrels and nongame animals like feral hogs.
However, the new rules initially approved by the TPW Commission back in March would have allowed hunters to use air guns and air bows to harvest virtually every species of small, big and upland game in the state except for migratory birds.
The new rules do not specify a minimum muzzle velocity or energy for air guns or air bows. Instead, they merely established a .30 caliber minimum for using an air bow or air gun to take big game (deer, javelina, turkey, etc.) and a .177 caliber minimum for hunting squirrel, quail, pheasants, and chachalaca.
During the original public comment period for the proposal, most of the opposition to allowing air guns for hunting big game was focused on the relative lack power of an air gun compared to modern firearms. Though modern air guns are more powerful than many people might initially think, a number of people still have concerns about hunters armed with air guns wounding an unacceptably high number of big-game animals.
According to TPW Commission Chairman Ralph Duggins, “This is new and evolving technology, so we want to make certain any actions we take do not present undue risks of wounding of wildlife. I’ve asked staff to provide the Commission with additional information as well as to invite testimony from industry experts. I also want to give the public the opportunity for more input on this issue at our May public meeting. We appreciate everyone’s patience while we fully evaluate any action on the proposed rules.”
So, not only will the public get another chance to comment on the proposal, but representatives from companies that produce air guns and other experts from the hunting industry will likely get to provide input to the commission as well.
In the meantime, the TPW Commission took the unusual step of putting a hold on publication of the 2018-19 Texas Hunting & Fishing Proclamation, which sets season dates, bag limits and legal methods of take, until it resolves the issue of using air guns and air bows for hunting big game one way or another.
Texas Parks and Wildlife is currently taking public comments on the proposal to allow air guns and air bows as a method of take for big game through 7:00 a.m. on May 23. You can also attend the public hearing in person at 2:30 p.m. on May 24 at the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center. Regardless of whether you support or oppose the proposal, I urge you to let the commission know what you think.
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