As airgunners, we often have far more opportunities to take game than traditional hunters. Most “big game” is controlled by seasons and highly regulated. But much of what we may hunt comes under the category of “fur-bearing non-game” animals. Can you hunt them too much? The short answer is yes, and we need to spend a little time talking about it.
To Kill or Not to Kill
Much of this article is going to be completely subjective. Animals deemed important enough to preserve are already controlled, and we have season limitations as well as fish and game management to keep things in check. Politics and personal feelings aside.
Airgun hunting is a great pastime, and while you can practice all you want on paper targets, the real test of skill is making that perfect ethical shot. Please forgive me if I speak in the first person for the remainder of this article, as it may lend some depth to the topic.
As a youngster, it was always a thrill to pull the trigger, watch the feathers fly, and put another notch on my trusted BB gun. I’m not sure how many of our feathered friends I may have sent to an early grave, but I’m sure it was a lot. I took a break from shooting and hunting for a long time, and then I got back into airgunning. Living in a “target-rich” environment brought out the “need” to see the feathers and fur fly again. I thought nothing of taking a few jackrabbits and other small game as they were unregulated and considered pest animals anyway. There is certainly a place to prove your gear to ensure it will get the job done when needed, but I went beyond that point. I’m not sure when it happened, but I began to see things differently as I got older.
Where Did All My Rabbits Go??
I live on a ranch of 400/+ acres, 20 miles away from anything. You could say I’m “remote.” Where some folks in the lowcountry of South Carolina may take off work early, hop in their boat and go fishing till dark, I would grab my airgun, wander the ranch, and take game without thinking about consequences.
At some point, I began to notice that the ease of taking game became harder and harder, and I had to go farther and farther to see viable targets. Then it went from bad to worse. A blight hit the rabbit population, and they were all just gone. We went more than just a couple of years before seeing even a single jackrabbit. If I had been more aware of the small game population, maybe we would have weathered the blight a little better, or maybe it wouldn’t have mattered. But either way, it made me realize that I had taken something for granted and it was not something that I want to repeat.
Why Does This Matter?
Why does this even matter? Well, I know many folks that have the perspective that “when it all hits the fan” they’ll just take their trusty airgun and go get food to put on the table. That may actually work for the short term, but it’s not a long-term solution by any stretch. I’m not advocating for governmental intervention and control of “fur-bearing non-game” animals. But I am asking us, as airgunners and hunters, to consider the results of recreational hunting.
Let’s suppose we go back to the fishing scenario for a moment. Was there ever that perfect “secret” fishing hole that everyone knew about all of a sudden? What happened? Well, at some point, all the fish got a lot harder to catch, and unless someone stepped in, it would just get completely fished out.
I’m not at all against hunting. I love to hunt. But now, I try to hunt more responsibly. Kids will be kids. But we are, or should be, mature adults who benefit from hindsight. If we take some time to impart a little bit of conservation into our youngsters, maybe their kids and grandkids will have the same opportunities we’ve all enjoyed while hunting with our airguns.
Good Airguns for Ethical Hunting
Airguns are a great tool for folks of all ages to get out and learn to hunt responsibly. We’ve posted many articles on our blog that talk about this topic. If you have questions about gear and what works and what doesn’t, please take a look at them, and we hope they help provide some clarity and guidance. And if you ever need more information, just give us a call. We are always here, ready to help.