The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission has delayed until its public meeting in Lubbock on May 24 any final rulemaking on the use of air guns and air bows as legal means for taking certain game animals, game birds, alligators and furbearers.

At the meeting, the Commission expects to hear further public input and to receive additional data from TPW staff.

The hold is a surprising and rare decision, especially after the Commission voted unanimously in March to approve both for hunting certain game animals, birds and others. Airguns and the “air bow” have been growing in popularity the last few years with hunters seeking new experiences afield. The air bow shoots an arrow with the assistance of compressed air in a tank built into the weapon’s stock.

“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,” Ralph Duggins, TPW Commission Chairman, said in a press release.

“I’ve asked staff to provide the Commission with additional information as well as to invite testimony from industry experts,” Duggins said. “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.”

The initial rule changes to the 2018-19 Statewide Hunting Proclamation approved by the Commission in March regarding air guns and air bows as a legal means of take did not specify any requirements except for minimum caliber sizes. As currently presented, air guns .30 caliber or larger would be legal to take alligators, deer, pronghorn, big horn sheep, javelina, turkey and furbearers. Airguns .177 caliber or larger would be legal to take squirrel, quail, pheasants and chachalaca.

Rules adopted by the Commission are not considered final until they are submitted to the Texas Secretary of State’s office for publication in the Texas Register. Consideration and action on airguns and air bows are the only provisions in the 2018-19 Statewide Hunting Proclamation that have been postponed until its May 24 public meeting in Lubbock.

As with all Commission action items, public comment opportunities will be made available through the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department online portal, and during the May 24 public meeting of the Commission.