- Striking the balance between technology and conservation is critical to ensure that hunting remains safe and supports science-based conservation while providing new and novel opportunities.
- The use of arrow-shooting airguns during Oklahoma’s firearms deer seasons, following the purchase of an airbow conservation stamp (which ensures this new method of take contributes to conservation funding), provides a unique opportunity to utilize this novel technology.
- Advancements in shotshell technologies will benefit turkey hunters in Iowa who may now use .410-bore and 28-gauge shotguns during the 2023 firearms turkey seasons.
Why It Matters: Our outdoor pursuits are undeniably rooted in deep tradition, but that doesn’t mean the old way of doing things is the only right way. Thanks to continued innovation, hunters, and all sportsmen and women, have seen their opportunities to participate in and enjoy the outdoors grow in ways that our ancestors could have never imagined. However, with these advancements come questions that we must ask. Do these opportunities provide any additional conservation benefits? Do they open the door for new, or lapsed, participants? Fortunately, recent efforts across the Midwest, and in other parts of the country, have ensured that both of these questions are answered correctly.
As new technologies are developed, sportsmen and women, state fish and wildlife agencies, and elected officials must all grapple with striking a balance between utilizing these technologies to increase participation in our outdoor pursuits and maintaining the fair chase ethic by which America’s sportsmen and women operate. This balancing act can, at times, be quite a challenge as innovations continue to be developed. Fortunately for hunters in the Lower Midwest, 2022 efforts have opened the door for new opportunities in 2023 while maintaining the conservation ethic by which we all abide.
In Oklahoma, thanks to the efforts of now-retired Oklahoma Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair and NASC Executive Council Member Senator Mark Allen and the passage of Senate Bill 1571 in 2022, hunters will have the opportunity to pursue deer with arrow-shooting airguns (also commonly known as “airbows”) during the Sooner State’s firearms deer season following the purchase of an airbow conservation stamp. This opportunity was available for hunters in 2023 thanks to an emergency clause within the bill, and the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation is currently finalizing its efforts to formally include arrow-shooting airguns within its regulations package.
In Iowa, turkey hunters will have the opportunity to utilize .410-bore and 28-gauge shotguns during the upcoming spring turkey season. Thanks to mission partners, members of the sporting-conservation community, and the leadership of Iowa Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chairs Senator Chris Cournoyer and Representative Terry Baxter (now retired), Senate File 2334 passed unanimously. These smaller, lighter recoiling chamberings, when combined with advancements in shotshell technology, allow young, small-framed, or otherwise recoil-sensitive hunters to use a more comfortable firearm while maintaining their effectiveness in the field.
These are but two examples of the way that improvements in technologies can benefit hunters and, on a much broader scale, conservation overall. As new technologies arise, and they undoubtedly will, we must continue to strike the balance of removing barriers to participation while safeguarding the fair chase ethic that makes sportsmen and women the “Original Conservationists.”