TPWD May Allow Deer Hunters to Use Silencers
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission is one vote away from allowing the use of sound suppressors -- so-called "silencers" -- on firearms used to take game animals -- like deer.
The sound suppressor proposal is in a package of suggested changes in state hunting and fishing regulations drawn up by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department staff.
A firearm sound suppressor is a baffle-filled cylinder threaded on the end of a firearm's barrel. Contrary to popular belief, it does not eliminate the sound of the muzzle blast when the gun is fired. It only reduces it.
More and more hunters are thinking about using silencers as they worry about hearing damage caused by firearms, and efforts to reduce public noise complaints associated with shooting. It's also true that some hunters are fascinated with technology. They think silencers are "cool."
Texas is one of 39 states that allow hunters to use silencers, but only when hunting non-game animals such as feral hogs. They're not allowed when hunting game animals such as white-tailed deer, but that may change soon. After months of study, the TPWD wildlife division staff has concluded there is no biological reason to prohibit deer hunters from using them.
It's worth noting that even if TPWD approves the change, not many deer hunters are expected to run out and buy one. They're expensive -- several hundred dollars and up -- and hunters have to jump through some federal regulatory hoops.
To buy a silencer legally, a hunter must do business with a dealer licensed by federal authorities to sell them, meet strict application requirements for a permit to possess the device and pay a $200 transfer tax.
The silencer proposal is just one of several rules changes TPWD is considering. Other proposed changes include opening a deer season in Galveston County; imposing gear tag requirements on throw lines and minnow traps used in freshwater; and changing the re-dating requirements for gear tags used on passive fishing gear such as trot lines and throw lines from 30 days to 10 days.