Survey: Hunters Want to Learn More about Air Weapons for Deer Hunting

May 24, 2018 | by National Deer Alliance

In our May 16 survey, we asked our newsletter subscribers about the use of air guns and air bows for hunting deer. Specifically, we wanted to know if hunters believe that states should allow the use of air guns and air bows for deer hunting. Additionally, we wanted to know how many hunters already use, or would consider using, an air bow for deer hunting.

Half of subscribers (50%) believe states should allow the use of air bows or air guns for deer hunting as long as they are proven to be effective. Effectiveness was a key consideration. One respondent noted, “As long as they are just as capable of a modern rifle or bow to make a clean, humane kill, then I see no reason to not use them.” Another respondent added, “I support any effective method of harvest, provided that it is ethical and works within the framework of responsible/healthy herd management.”

Some respondents believed that the allowance of air bows and air guns would increase hunter recruitment and retention. One respondent stated, “Anything to increase hunter numbers is a good thing.” Another took it a step further, “Let's not take options away from hunters. More options lead to more hunters - and that's good for everyone.”

But, many respondents were in agreeance that the use of air guns, and air bows specifically, should not be allowed in archery seasons, but rather should only be allowed in firearms seasons. One respondent noted that these weapons should be allowed, but “air bows shouldn't be eligible for traditional archery only seasons.” Another respondent agreed, noting “I would not want them to be used during archery season.”

Still, 20% of respondents were unsure whether states should allow the use of air bows or air guns for deer hunting as long as they are proven to be effective. One respondent noted, “I'm not familiar enough with air bows to cast an educated vote,” while others expressed a lack of knowledge of air bows and air guns, too.

When asked if they already use, or would consider using, an air bow for hunting deer, 69% of respondents stated that they do not, or would not consider using, and air bow for hunting deer. Many respondents noted that they’re happy with their current hunting weapons and feel no need to change. One respondent replied, “Right now I'm happy hunting with my crossbow,” while another answered, “I prefer a vertical bow for hunting.” One respondent took it a step further, replying “I'd stop deer hunting before I would use one of these, and you can take that to the bank!”

Interestingly, 17% of respondents were unsure if they would use an air bow for deer hunting, while 14.5% noted that they would. Some respondents noted that this was due to a lack of knowledge about air weapons, with one respondent answering “I need to know more about them.” Other respondents saw potential in air weapons for youth or senior hunters.

While the future of air bows and air guns for deer hunting is uncertain in many states, it appears that hunters are divided on the issue. Effectiveness of air weapons, as well as how they fit into existing hunting seasons, appear to be the main issues. Some hunters would like to see existing archery seasons defined narrowly, while others welcome new weapon options to attract and retain new and old hunters, alike.