Airgun hunting is probably allowed in your state. However, you will need to check on restrictions and allowances with your state’s game and fish authority. This article provides guidance on general airgun hunting rules at the time of writing. Because regulations change frequently, check with your game and fish authority each season before you go airgun hunting.
Airgun Hunting Overview
After Rossi Morreale‘s recent turkey hunting trip in California with American Airgunner TV, we have been receiving a lot of questions. The biggest question is can I hunt with airguns in my state? This changes from state to state. Most states will only allow small game to be taken with air rifles. While a few others will allow larger game, such as Whitetail Deer, to be taken. Some states, such as Arkansas, don’t specifically allow airgun hunting. However, they do allow airguns to be used to “hunt” pest animals such as the crow, rabbit, and squirrel. As of right now, only two states do not allow airgun hunting of any kind: New Hampshire and Pennsylvania. There are only four states that specifically allow airgun hunting for turkey: California, Maryland, Michigan, and Virginia.
Airgun Hunting Map
This map is based on interpretation of existing regulations. Do not depend on this map for airgun hunting laws. Always check local regulations with your state’s game and fish group before hunting. The states marked in yellow have special rules for airguns which are explained below the map.
For information purposes only. Regulations will change over time. Remember to check your game and fish group every season for updates.
Arizona: Must use a .22 or larger for fur bearers.
Hawaii: Can only hunt with airguns on private property with permission from the owner.
Illinois: Can only hunt with airguns on private property with permission from the owner.
Kansas: Cannot use airguns to hunt bullfrogs or turtles.
New Jersey: Must use an airgun that is at least .177 but no larger than .22. Velocity must be at least 600 FPS.
New York: Must use an airgun that is .177 or larger. Velocity must be at least 600 FPS.
*North Carolina: According to the North Carolina Wildlife website, air rifles fall in the rifle category. All restrictions that apply to rifles apply to air rifles.
Rhode Island: Must use an airgun that is at least .177 but no larger than .22. Velocity of at least 750 FPS and pellets 7.5 grains or larger.
South Dakota: Must use an airgun with a velocity of at least 1,000 FPS. Only hunting pellets are permitted. Read page 41 of the SD Hunting Handbook for legal game.
Texas: Must use an airgun that is at least .177 with a velocity of at least 600 FPS when hunting squirrels.
View Airgun Hunting Regulations by State
Umarex USA continues to bring economical air guns to the American consumer that perform well beyond the expectations of the average shooter. A great example of what is available to the small game hunter and pest shooter is the new Ruger® Blackhawk® Air Rifle.
Available in two variations, the gun I received was the more powerful of the two. There is a version that features extremely easy cocking, and only shoots around 490 fps with the average .177 caliber pellet. However, as a hunter, I almost always opt for the more powerful versions as long as the shooting behavior is manageable and the cocking effort within the realm of reason.
If the Blackhawk Air Rifle looks familiar, it should. It is based upon the venerable RWS Model 34, an air gun that is a classic. This Blackhawk Air Rifle features a synthetic, ambidextrous stock that is comfortable for both right and left-handed shooters. The fiber optic open sights make target acquisition easy and quick, handy for when your shooting opportunity on a nervous squirrel or rabbit calls for a fast shot. Or, if you are like me and prefer a scope for finer shot placement, the Ruger Blackhawk Air Rifle comes with a 4×32 scope and mounts included.
My first opportunity to use the new rifle was on a pest control situation. If ever there was a pest, it would be the European starling. They rob my bird feeders, kill my bluebirds, and generally take over the best nesting sites that our native birds need in order to survive. So at every opportunity, I take them out!
I had finished sighting in the open sights on this air rifle and had it leaning against the kitchen door to do duty as my bird feeder gun. Some serious snow had fallen within the last evening, and birds were flocking to my feeders for an easy meal during the bad weather. Sure enough, the starlings started showing up to ruin the party, acting like the avian party crashers they are. I eased outside to do something about the situation, and with a single shot, the starling party was over. And one of them didn’t go home!
Having successfully proved the use of this air gun for pest control, I moved on up to small game hunting. Squirrel season is still open here in Kentucky, and I had a new camouflage chair I wanted to try out. Setting up in a likely spot, I chose the Ruger Blackhawk Air Rifle as my armament for the day. It didn’t take long for a large fox squirrel to climb up to a dining perch in a tree and begin working on a nut it had found under the snow. With a properly placed shot, the squirrel came tumbling down. The Ruger Blackhawk Air Rifle and RWS Superdome pellets made a lethal combination for this tree rodent!
Most air gun shooters like to keep an air gun around that is capable of handling larger pests. The possum and raccoon come to mind in this category, and though I would hesitate to take on a large raccoon with the smaller .177 caliber air rifle, a possum provided no challenge to the Ruger Blackhawk Air Rifle. I have issues every year in regards to what animals are going to move into my old barn, and this possum had to go. Coming out in the open at the wrong time of day earned this pest a shot to the head, ending the issue of where it would live for good. The power provided by the Ruger Blackhawk Air Rifle proved more than it could handle, and the accuracy provided by the rifle put the pellet exactly where I needed it to go.
If I had any suggestions for Umarex USA in regards to this rifle, I would opt for a slightly longer scope rail to allow the use of the longer-based 1-piece mounts that are so popular among air gun shooters. These style mounts provide some serious clamping surface on the dovetails, a greatly desired feature for spring-piston air guns. The current rails only allow the shorter-style 1-piece mounts.
I can recommend the Ruger Blackhawk Air Rifle for most game and pests that range in size from the possum on down. The air gun has the accuracy needed, is pleasant to shoot and practice with, and will provide many hours of shooting fun and enjoyment for its owner. Give one a try and see if you don’t agree!
The RWS 34 (or RWS Model 34) from Germany is one of the most popular spring-piston rifles known today. Many air gun enthusiasts have one of these fine air guns in their possession and use it for plinking and fun shooting. However, many individuals miss out on the hunting uses this fine example of German engineering brings to the table. Many people consider the RWS 34 an heirloom and legacy that is passed from father to son and mother to daughter. View all RWS Model 34 airguns.
I have been shooting the RWS 34 for a number of years now, having owned one or two in the past. Air guns at my house tend to come and stay for awhile, then move on to another worthy owner who shows interest in it while I’m at the range or shooting with a group of friends. So when my new RWS showed up on the porch from Umarex, I decided to write a brief article on the hunting uses of the RWS Model 34.
RWS 34 Recommended Ammo & Field Usage
When you hunt with an air gun, you will find there are debates in the air gun world as to which caliber is best for different game. I consider the .22 the best all-around caliber if you are going to own just one air gun…but where’s the fun in that? As you hunt more often and learn the differences in the calibers and their effectiveness, you’ll find the ability of the shooter a bigger factor than the caliber of the air gun in question. The rifle I ordered was a .177 caliber, and I quickly opened up a tin of RWS Superdomes and began breaking in the gun.
I shoot a couple of hundred pellets through an air gun before worrying too much about velocity measurements and accuracy tests. New spring piston guns need a break-in period to allow the internal parts to start working smoothly together, so shooting a half-tin or more of pellets is a great way to allow those parts to mesh and start doing what they were designed to do at top efficiency. I also took a moment to run a swab or two down the barrel to remove the preservatives inside the barrel. With a clean bore and some ammo already sent down range, I was ready to do some hunting!
I own about 3 acres on the edge of town, with lots of old-growth trees filled with hollows. These hollows make excellent nesting sites for woodpeckers and bluebirds, two of my favorite birds to watch and enjoy. However, they are set upon by English sparrows and European starlings constantly, so I try to even the odds in the favor of the native species, and eliminate every sparrow and starling I can find. Stalking along the edge of my property, I was offered several shots at starlings and sparrows that were competing over hollows and cavities for nesting rights.
The first sparrow I caught was arguing with a relative of hers over who had the best roost on the bush they were in. The male sparrows were also hanging around, trying to catch the attention of the females. I shot the female first at 10 yards, and the rest flew up into a tree to figure out what was going on. At that point, a Superdome was sent precisely to one of the male sparrows, putting him down for the count. That’s a couple of English sparrows that won’t be arguing with my bluebirds this spring!
Next came the European starlings, airborne Vikings I call them. From the front porch, I harvested the first with an upward shot. When shooting up, be sure you can call your shots—shooting at elevated targets or targets lower than you can be tricky sometimes. You need to hold a little bit under what you might think for such shots. Starling #2 was a longer shot of about 30 yards as it was searching for food on the lawn. After the shot connected, the starlings just folded up and went to sleep..
The Superdome pellets from this pellet gun are both accurate and devastating on pests and small game as well. There is currently no open season for small game in Kentucky right now, so I had to limit my hunting to the avian pest species that you see in the picture. Each pest was a one-shot, one-kill example of the usefulness that the Model 34 can provide as a pest control tool and small game hunting rifle. But during the small game seasons, rabbits and squirrels fall to this combination quite often. In addition to my experience with the RWS Model 34, I was at the local police chief’s office recently, talking about pigeon control. He showed me the tool he uses for quiet and efficient removal of feral pigeons. Want to guess what it was? Yep, an RWS 34 in .177 caliber. He likes to use head shots, and finds the air gun very accurate and up to the job.
RWS 34 Accuracy
Just how accurate is the RWS 34? It’s funny you should ask. Now don’t think I’m crazy here, but unusual targets are a favorite of mine. I’ll sit 10 yards from a ripe fruit tree and pick off the wasps and yellow jackets that buzz around the tree if the rifle I am shooting is up to the task. So I want to show you a picture that you may or may not recognize right off.
While waiting for another starling to come winging into range, I noticed a large housefly sitting on a cardboard box that was about 5 yards away. He was just sitting there in the sun, and I just couldn’t resist! I placed the sights on the fly, and at 5 yards left nothing but what you see in the picture.
Nothing but a splash left for any evidence that a fly ever sat there. Now that is accuracy! And that accuracy extends out to further ranges in proportion to the ability of the shooter. This is a well-made rifle that brings home the bacon when shooting pests and small game.
RWS 34 Family of Airguns
Click to view all RWS Model 34 airguns. The page includes these RWS 34 items:
- RWS 34 with or without Scope, .22 or .177
- RWS 34 P with or without Scope, .22 or .177
- RWS 34 Pro Compact .177
- RWS 34 Meisterschutze Pro
by: Randall Mitchell