Deer hunters will have another weapon option this fall as state wildlife commissioners on Monday approved emergency rules for the use of air-operated stock rifles during big gun seasons.
Air rifles are also called air bows, but their use would be illegal in Oklahoma during shooting and muzzleloader seasons. The Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission classifies the gun as a hunting handgun.
“There is nothing about this weapon that constitutes a bow and arrow in the traditional sense,” said Wildlife Commissioner James Barwick of Edmund.
Air operated arrow guns are a hybrid hunting product that uses compressed air to fire an arrow. They have become more popular in recent years and Oklahoma is one of several states that have legalized hunting.
Barwick said Arizona has allowed air-operated stock rifles to be used for large game hunting for years, and Texas has legalized them. Safari Club International, the world leader in conservation and advocacy, recently created a new standard book dedicated exclusively to air rifle hunters.
Only time will prove:Will Tiger Bass be the answer to Grand Lake’s bigger bass growth?
State lawmakers legalized the use of air rifles for hunting during the last legislative session. Wildlife commissioners had to pass emergency rules so the guns could be used during upcoming hunting seasons.
Bill Denkins, chief of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s wildlife division, told commissioners that the weapon was “extremely lethal at 50, 60 and 70 yards.”
Sight sights are allowed on stock rifles but no laser sights, unless the hunter is legally disabled or blind. Thermal trackers and light-enhancing devices, including night scopes, are not permitted.
Other rules for hunting with air-operated stock rifles, such as the legal specification for broadheads, are now listed online at wildlifedepartment.com. The rules were passed too late for inclusion in the print edition of the Oklahoma Fishing Guide.
Since air pistols are not included in the Pittman Robertson Act, which taxes hunting gear for use in conservation, a one-time $20 permit will be required from Oklahoma hunters using air-powered stock rifles.
The guns are said to be very accurate and quiet, which appeals to some hunters. Hearing protection is not necessary when using it.
Miles Hall, owner of Hall and Hall Consulting in Edmund, has been involved in the sport of shooting for 41 years. It is believed that the cannons would become popular among those who hunt deer near suburban areas.
“I think it will continue,” he said.
Umarex and Benjamin Pioneer are the main manufacturers of air-operated stock rifles, but Hall said there will be more companies making rifles and more retailers selling them in the near future as states legalize them for hunting.
Prices for guns and accessories range from $200 to $1,000.
more:How will the weather affect the deer population in Oklahoma? Dollars may have smaller horns this fall
Game rangers save lives
Also at Monday’s meeting, state wildlife commissioners recognized four state game rangers for their efforts to save lives.
Delaware County Game Watcher Riley Wellman was awarded the Medal for Courage to Save the Life of a Drowning Man on May 11.
Wellman stopped at Flint Creek Water Park to check on fishermen’s licenses when he heard someone screaming to call 911. An Arkansas man was swimming in the creek and was sucked into the water flowing over the dam.
Wellman jumped into the fast-flowing stream, pulled the man ashore and then performed CPR to revive him.
On April 9, Wellman and teammate Austin Jackson, game guard Austin Jackson, rescued a fisherman whose boat capsized in Lake Eucha during an overnight fishing tournament.
The game rangers sailed six miles of water in their boat in thick mist and stream to reach the man who was clinging to a partially submerged log. The game rangers were able to get close enough into the boat to drag the exhausted man onto the boat.
“Their actions that night undoubtedly saved the man’s life,” said Nathan Erdman, chief of law enforcement for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
In October 2021, Wellman also assisted the Delaware County Representative with a mental disorder appeal in which a man barricaded himself inside his home. Upon entering, it was discovered that the man had cut his wrists. Wellman placed a tourniquet over his wounds to prevent the man from bleeding to death at the scene.
On September 26, 2020, Noble County’s game warden Stephen Poole was preparing to take his family to dinner when he got a frantic call from the sheriff’s department about a possible drowning in Lake Sooner.
Paul headed to Lake Sooner on a windy day with winds over 45 mph to search for one of the brothers who had jumped into the lake to retrieve a gas canister. The pontoon boat ran out of gas and the brothers threw the gas canister while trying to refuel the boat.
One of the brothers was clinging to a gas canister as he floated away from the boat. Paul began researching the area and saw a red dot between 3 and 4 feet of the lake swell. The red dot in the distance turns out to be a gas canister and Paul manages to save the man.
On January 19 of this year, Osage County Game Warden Larry Green was contacted by sending about three duck hunters whose boat capsized in Kaw Lake. Green launched his boat in cold temperatures and choppy, rough waters to reach the duck hunters, who were hypothermic when they were rescued.
“Larry risked his life to get to the Three Duck Hunters,” Erdmann said.
In addition, Monday’s Kingfisher County Game Warden’s Blake Pearson was honored as the state’s Game Superintendent of the Year.
more:Wildlife in Oklahoma needs help to beat the scorching heat. Here are some tips.
Specific field day at Lexington WMA
The Lexington Wildlife Management District will host a field day on August 17 for landowners to learn about prescribed fires and land management.
Topics will include the use of burns described to benefit wildlife or livestock, safety, and effects on plants and animals.
To attend, send an RSVP on Wednesday, August 10, to Brad Secraw at 405-321-4774 or [email protected] Lunch will be provided.
more:How many alligators do you call home Oklahoma? The Department of Wildlife wants to know that
Sports mud is shot to raise money for DU
Guthrie’s class from Ducks Unlimited will be having a fun photo shoot on August 20 at Silverleaf Shotgun Sports near Guthrie.
Registration will begin at 7:45 a.m. with a safety meeting at 9 a.m., and prizes will be awarded to the three best shooters in all classes.
The cost is $120 per shooter and $600 for a team of five. Shooters ages 10-17 cost $90, but they must be accompanied by an adult.
Lunch will be included and there will be games and raffles. For more information, contact Chauncey Watts at 405-278-1943 or Paul Fincher at 405-850-0275, or email [email protected]