Oklahoma House Bill 2355 (HB 2355), which passed out of the Oklahoma House of Representatives on March 7 and is now being considered by the Oklahoma Senate, would establish arrow-shooting airguns, or ‘air bows’, as a legal hunting method during any archery season, including for deer, elk, antelope and other regulated species.
Please consider joining the National Deer Association (NDA) in opposing this legislation. In most instances, the NDA supports choice-of-weapon decisions to be made by state wildlife agencies – not lawmakers. Here, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC) is best qualified to determine legal hunting methods and weapon-specific seasons in the state. CLICK HERE to ask your lawmakers to oppose HB 2355.
While the NDA supports innovative efforts to increase hunter recruitment, retention and reactivation (R3), such efforts must adhere to scientific wildlife management principles. In the vast majority of cases, state wildlife agencies are best situated to make decisions regarding expanded choice-of-weapon opportunities, extended seasons and so on. HB 2355’s inclusion of arrow-shooting airguns into traditional archery seasons ignores ODWC’s intentional decision to not include these weapons as legal archery equipment for bowhunting seasons.
Additionally, unlike bows and firearms, airguns (including arrow-shooting airguns) are not included in the items taxed under the Pittman-Robertson Act (which funds the Wildlife Restoration Program) and do not contribute to conservation funding in a manner that is consistent with other authorized methods of take. Last year alone, the ODWC was apportioned over $27 million from this fund to conduct critical wildlife management activities across the state. While the bill requires a hunter to purchase a special stamp to hunt with an ‘air bow’, the funds from the stamp will not make up for lost excise tax revenue generated by currently-approved methods of take.
Further, Oklahoma’s 117,000 archery hunters accounted for 31% of the state’s deer harvest in 2021 – over 9% greater than the next-highest southeastern state – according to the NDA’s 2023 Deer Report. Clearly, bowhunting and the current Oklahoma archery season is important to the state’s hunters, and the inclusion of arrow-shooting airguns into traditional archery seasons could impact not only the resource but the hunting experience for Oklahoma’s plentiful bowhunters.