GF&P denies petition to prohibit rifles during turkey season

Courtesy photo

SPEARFISH — The S.D. Game, Fish and Parks has denied a petition to prohibit rifles during the spring turkey hunting season.

Last month, Paul Roghair brought the petition to the S.D. Game, Fish & Parks Commission to change current ammunition regulations from 700 foot pounds at the muzzle, to “any rim or centerfire cartridge greater than 1 inch in length, but less than 1.5 inches in length.”

“By opening this area people can legally use a lower powered cartridge to harvest a turkey for which they hold a tag, in a format that does less potential destruction of the harvest, and at the same time makes it safer for all afield,” Roghair wrote in his petition. “Less power will mean less bullet travel, less pass-through energy, and shorter shot distances which also leads to more safety.”

Roghair said the change would also make it easier to determine food pounds of energy.

“Not many people, or conservation officers carry around the gear to determine the food pounds of energy on a cartridge,” Roghair said. “A ruler is much more common and simple. Thus, it makes the rules simpler, expands the amount of people that can hunt, and increases the safety of the sport for those who are afield.”

 John Kanta, regional supervisor in the department’s Rapid City office told the commission that he reached out to Roghair about his reasoning for the petition.

“He wanted to allow smaller calibers down to a .22 mag,” Kanta said. “He was after less destruction to the turkey and less chance of a pass through for safety purposes.”

But after discussing the matter with staff, Kanta said the current regulation for 700 foot pounds of energy at the muzzle works just fine. Therefore, Kanta recommended that there be no change to the rule.

“All of the foot pounds of energy definitions we have were developed in 1993,” Kanta said. “I’m told there was a lot of thought and input to develop those. Staff does feel there is ample opportunity and we are not prohibiting anyone from going out.”

Kanta continued to explain that if the Game, Fish and Parks accommodated Roghair’s request for the .22 mag, but keep energy measures at the muzzle, they would have to drop the foot pounds down to 300.

“I recommend not doing that because the farther away the turkey gets, the more opportunity there is for wounding the turkey and it running off,” Kanta said.

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