Electronic Decoys, Other Devices May Soon Be Legal in Pennsylvania

Despite some opposition from more traditional hunters, state game board gives OK

Friday, July 21, 2017

By Lisa Lakey

Despite some opposition from more traditional hunters, the Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners gave the OK for three electronic devices to be added to the list hunters in the state are already allowed to utilize.

Electronic waterfowl decoys, electronic heated scent or lure dispensers and electronic devices that emit an ozone gas for scent-control, were the items given preliminary approval. In September, commissioners will meet for a second vote to legalize the devices before start of the hunting season. Dove decoys will also be considered for approval in September.

Currently, the only legal electronic hunting items allowed in Pennsylvania are certain callers, illuminated nocks on arrows and crossbows, sound amplification devices on a hunter’s ear, crow decoys, electronic impulses on guns and rangefinders.

The newest of the items up for approval are devices that distribute ozone gas for scent-control. Ozonics, a brand in the devices for scent control, describes the use of the product on its website:

“Ozonics produces ozone by introducing electricity to oxygen much like what happens with a lightning strike – only on a smaller scale. In the presence of electricity, oxygen molecules will fracture and temporarily turn into ozone molecules which are characteristically unstable. This means they will bond with other available molecules like human scent. This strong tendency to bond with other molecules is what results in purification in general and scent control for the hunter.”

The most popular of the items set to be legalized is by far the decoy. Electronic duck decoys are allowed in most states, and Pennsylvania duck hunters have been asking for the right for a long time. The most common type are motion decoys, many with remote controls.

The board has repeatedly denied hunter requests due to the belief that it would put the wildlife at a disadvantage, violating what is commonly known as the “fair chase” ethic and cause the population to become overhunted.

In Arkansas, for instance, there was a statewide ban on spinning-wing decoys in 2005. The state is well-known for the city of Stuttgart’s reputation as Duck Hunting Capital of the World. The state relaxed the ban in 2008, but currently prohibits the use of electronic devices in certain wildlife management areas.

If approved in September, Pennsylvania would be the 49th state to approve use of electronic decoys in the country, leaving Oregon alone in the ban. After a lengthy debate in the state of Washington in 2012, the decoys were legalized. Electronic decoys are allowed in all the states bordering Pennsylvania.