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Air gun hunting has become legal in Texas, and should be in the books for the 2018-19 hunting season.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department passed the legal use of air-powered rifles and bows for hunting big game, game birds, and
— TX Parks & Wildlife (@TPWDnews) August 23, 2018
The proposal was officially meant to amendment the Statewide Hunting and Fishing Proclamation and allow the wider use of air guns. It was passed as stated:
- Make air guns lawful for the take of alligator, big game species (deer, pronghorn, bighorn sheep, javelina), turkey, and fur-bearing animals, provided the air guns are pre-charged pneumatics and meet certain ballistic requirements;
- Make arrow guns lawful for the take of alligators (in "non-core" counties), game animals, and upland (i.e., non-migratory game birds - quail, pheasant, chachalaca) game birds, and fur-bearing animals, provided the arrow guns are pre-charged pneumatics and arrows/bolts conform to current rules for archery equipment;
- Establish hunter education requirements for persons hunting by means of pneumatic weapons; and
- Simplify standards for archery equipment and air guns used to take squirrel.
The subject of air guns and arrow guns, as the TPWD has termed air-powered bows like the Benjamin Pioneer Airbow, has brought up some debate among the hunting community, mostly centered on the idea of ethically and efficiently killing game animals, as opposed to merely wounding them.
We got to experience shooting a good selection of Gamo air guns during a recent event in Wyoming, and not only were they easy to sight in, but we dispatched a good amount of prairie dogs with them. Though the representatives assured effectiveness with good shots on much larger game, there was still a sense of needing more experience before gaining the confidence that ought to be required before aiming at a nice whitetail.
Nonetheless, air guns are used as a prime example of the industry's efforts to get more people into hunting and shooting sports. There's little recoil, almost no noise, and enough safety mechanisms built in to keep most attentive and educated folks clear of danger.
Air guns are already legal for deer and other big game in a dozen states, and for small game in even more. Texas seemed like a logical place where this would inevitably get discussed, and it wasn't long before the decision was made.
As of right now, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's Outdoor Annual website and mobile app still states that air gun rules are still being developed. But in the meeting on Wednesday, August 23, it was mentioned that staff would have the information ready to go, and that it would be made available soon thereafter.
We'll be sure to follow up with the official amendment's finality, and provide plenty more info from our own opportunity to give some air rifles a test drive soon.