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Commission OKs equipment changes for deer, turkey seasons

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Friday, March 22, 2013, at 12 a.m.

— Kansas hunters now have more choices for what equipment they can use during deer and turkey seasons.

The Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Commission unanimously approved all of the department’s requests for liberalizing weapon and other equipment restrictions during a meeting Thursday evening.

•  Crossbows will now be legal for all hunters during archery deer seasons. Previously they were only legal for those with approved physical limitations, those 15 and under and 55 and older, in four deer management units involved in a two-year study. The restriction saying all crossbows had to have at least 120 pounds of pull was also removed.

•  Any centerfire rifle or handgun cartridge can now be used for big game hunting during the appropriate firearm season.

•  Slugs can now be used in any gauge shotgun for deer hunting, rather than 20 gauge or larger.

The restriction saying all crossbows had to have at least 120 pounds of pull was also removed.

•  Most electronic devices attached to bows are now legal, including such things as attached cameras, and rangefinders. Also, radio frequency devices attached to arrows are also legal.

•  Any shotgun, regardless of gauge, can now be used for turkey hunting. Before, it was only shotguns 20 gauge or larger.

Chris Tymeson, Wildlife and Parks attorney, said the new regulations will be in effect when deer seasons open in September. He estimated it will take about four weeks before the turkey regulations become law. Tymeson said Wildlife and Parks will post a news release when those regulations become official, to inform hunters for the upcoming spring turkey seasons.

Robin Jennison, Wildlife and Parks secretary, said he favored the changes to allow hunters more freedom of choice, and to possibly make it easier for more children and small-framed adults to enjoy time deer hunting. He’s not concerned the changes will lead to an over-harvest of deer, or decline in the state’s trophy quality.

"It’s always been a societal issue, and never been a biological issue," Jennison said of the crossbow and caliber changes that drew lengthy debate for several years at commission meetings. "The crossbow (becoming legal) doesn’t take away from the experience of anybody who wants to use a (vertical) bow."

Brent Gardner, a National Rifle Association representative from Fairfax, Va.m said his group supported all of the weapon changes, and said the NRA has studied the topics at length and never found any of them to have a negative impact on wildlife.

Several commissioners said they had gotten several e-mails and phone calls opposing the equipment changes, but found widespread support when they started talking to local sportsmen. "If I was up here representing bowhunters I would be against it," Commissioner Roger Marshall, Great Bend, said of crossbows. "But I have to represent the people (of Kansas.) I don’t think passing this is going to hurt the deer herd."

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