Air Rifle Deer Hunting? The Difference between what is Legal vs Ethical
Dr. John Woods 11.18.20
An article in the local weekend newspaper’s outdoor page has brought on a number of questions. It outlined that by one state’s deer hunting regulations it was perfectly legal to kill a white-tailed deer with an air rifle. Of course, some regulation restrictions were in place the main one being that this could only occur on private land. The big question to some though even if it is legal to take a deer with an air rifle, was it ethical to do so? Would you participate in air rifle deer hunting?
My big question is why a hunter would want to do so in the first place. I know the arguments. It is a quiet manner to harvest a deer without disturbing (or giving notice) to the neighbors that hunting is even taking place next door. Then, the question arises on defining “private land.” My house sits on private land in the middle of a residential neighborhood. Does that count? It is in the city limits so that might take care of that, but see the issues that come up with air rifle deer hunting?
It might go a step further with questions like, though legal, is it smart? Would you hunt an elephant with a 22 long rifle? Would you stalk a tiger with a 22-250? What about a grizzly bear with a 5.56? It might be legal, it might be ethical, but is it smart? See how stupid such questions can be.
Now, it is a given that this legal air rifle deer hunting provision is not talking about a .177 BB Red Ryder air rifle. However, there are no particular specifications given. There are some “air” rifles that can attain up to 700-1300 foot pounds of projectile energy with “bullets” of 185 to 400 grains in weight. The Air Force Texan SS air rifles are in fact .308 caliber. Obviously, these air guns are not your typical air rifles. That might make them an exception for hunters so inclined to go this route.
This exceptional use of an advanced air rifle for deer hunting could also be appropriate for preppers and survivalists who want their positions kept secret. This silent way of taking game for food would be ideal for preppers working around areas where others might live, be camped, or bugged out. It’s worth considering.
But as far as traditional hunting is concerned, I don’t see an air rifle replacing a regular hunting rifle or archery gear. Each to his or her own, I guess. Be sure to double check the regulations in the state where you hunt to be sure the use of any air rifle is legal. You decide if it is ethical.