EL DORADO — Wildlife and Parks commissioners were asked Thursday to make two changes that its department staff things will ease hunting regulations.
One request would create statewide use for crossbows for all deer hunters, while the other would ease requirements for ammunition used to kill deer.
The commission and others attending the meeting discussed the issues at length. A formal vote will be taken at a March 21 meeting in Topeka. It could again be lengthy.
“These regulations come up almost every year, and they are often controversial,” said Lloyd Fox, big-game program director for KDWPT.
Current regulations allow the use of crossbows by special permit for people who can’t draw a compound or traditional bow, and those 15 and under and 55 and older statewide. This season was also the first of a legislature-mandated two-year pilot program to study allowing hunters of all ages to use crossbows in four deer management units.
Many bowhunters have opposed liberal crossbow regulations.
Bob Griffon, of Lebo, told the commission the ease of use with crossbows would lead to higher harvest rates during the archery season and could cause crowding in some areas. He said deer numbers and quality are already “down dramatically” on the public area he hunts, while hunter numbers keep increasing.
“One of our biggest problems is we are losing hunters and anglers,” said Wildlife and Parks secretary Robin Jennison. “We need to make it as easy as possible for people to enjoy the outdoors.”
For decades, Kansas deer hunters were restricted to rifle and handguns of .23 caliber or larger, that are 1.28 inches or longer. Those using shotguns with slugs were required to use 20 gauge or larger.
The proposal would allow the use of all shotguns with slugs, from a .410 on up and all centerfire cartridges in rifles and handguns.
Gerald Lauber, commission chairman, said that would make his palm-sized .25 semi-automatic pistol legal for hunting deer. Department staff said it would, but predicted few problems.
“The type of weapons (hunters) use is personal ethics. I don’t think it is our job to tell them what their personal ethics are,” Jennison said. “Hunters select equipment they feel will be best for their use. They don’t select inferior equipment.”
Several members of the commission said it might be best to pass regulations before the legislature could vote them through.
Also at the meeting:
• Fox requested that the 2013-14 deer seasons and limits mostly mirror the 2012-13 seasons, with minor adjustments. The agency would, however, add an Oct. 12-13 season this fall for antlerless whitetails. The new season was mandated by the legislature in hopes of lowering deer numbers across Kansas.
• Brad Simpson, Wildlife and Parks public lands chief, requested a change in a law made last year that makes it illegal to hunt over bait on public lands. Under that regulation, hunting doves at Wildlife and Parks managed sunflower fields could be considered breaking the law since sunflower seeds had been scattered by a mower.
• At the request of Don Copley, from Haysville, the commission asked the department to look into making the type on big-game hunting permits easier to read. Copley said small type probably contributed to him getting his permits confused and illegally putting a permit valid only for an antlerless whitetail on a mule deer buck. He paid nearly $1,300 in fines and other penalties.