Minimum hunting caliber for big game in your state?


April 23, 2011, 11:28 PM
Just wondering what the minimum requirements are for big game hunting in different states around the country.

Here in Montana and we have no minimum caliber standard. A lot of Elk are taken with .243 and sometimes lesser calibers. What about your state?

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April 23, 2011, 11:33 PM
minimum of .23 caliber with a case length exceeding 1". And a min of .45 cal in muzzle loading equip for big game in Kansas. 20ga or larger for shotguns on big game including turkey which is no longer considered a big game animal.

April 23, 2011, 11:34 PM
.23 in VA in the areas where rifles are allowed. 350 ME for handguns. Shotguns are unlimited though (might be able to use a .410). Muzzle loaders have to be .45 caliber or larger.

Correction - shotguns must be 10ga or smaller

April 23, 2011, 11:35 PM
In ND, deer can be taken with any centerfire cartridge with a .22 caliber bullet or larger. There used to be a 8-round magazine limit for semi autos until a few years ago when the SKS became more popular so they dropped that requirement so if you want to go hunting with say a semi-auto belt fed rifle in .22 Hornet, it would be legal.:evil:

April 23, 2011, 11:35 PM
minimum of .22 centerfire, handguns centerfire min 4"bbl

and for furbearers and coyote not larger than .30cal (retarded huh)

April 23, 2011, 11:38 PM

Any centerfire cartridge in a rifle. .22 Hornet for elk, FTW!!!

April 23, 2011, 11:43 PM

Try 22lr for Elk. I know its been done. Its stupid but its been done.

April 23, 2011, 11:49 PM
Mini- - I wouldn't say it was stupid. If it is done right, .22lr is more than enough for elk.

Some Inuit use it. They wait for the deer to cross a river (where it has to swim), pull the boat up next to it and put one in the head from about 5 ft. Tie the beast up to the boat and head for shore.... they even float!

I believe it was Caribou who was describing it on here. It's illegal for not substanace hunters I believe.

April 23, 2011, 11:51 PM
In Illinois it's shotgun 10 through 20 gauge loaded with slugs only. Muzzleloaders must be .45 or larger firing a bullet .44 or larger. (The sabot doesn't count.) Handguns must be .30 or larger with at least 500 ft/lbs at the muzzle.
Whitetails are the only big game around.

April 23, 2011, 11:54 PM

Yes some Inuit use it but the Inuit are known for being game losing hunters especially when hunting Walrus'. They had to send Wisconsin Game Wardens (Arthur Laha) to Alaska to teach them why they should stop using .22lr back in the 60's.

April 23, 2011, 11:59 PM
In alabama its rifles using centerfire mushrooming ammunition shotguns 10 gauge or smaller black powder rifles 40 caliberor larger pistols using centerfire mushrooming ammunition

April 24, 2011, 12:16 AM
.223 or better for big game. Pistol, i cant remember off hand, .36 cap and ball or larger i thunk.

April 24, 2011, 12:27 PM
Some Inuit use it. I don't know any Inuit that do it, but I've heard of Inupiat Eskimos doing it.

(most of my eskimo friends find the term Inuit offensive.)

April 24, 2011, 12:35 PM
.22 centerfire for deer out of a rifle .30 cal out of a pistol.

Ole Humpback
April 24, 2011, 12:49 PM
In Indiana, it depends on what you're hunting.

For coyotes, anything goes. For small game, fowl, birds, and turkeys its rimfires only or shotguns under a certain gauge & shot size depending on the game.

For deer its even wierder. Shotguns of 10, 12, 16, 20, or 410 with slugs. Rifles that shoot a bullet .357 or bigger from a case no shorter than 1.16" and no longer than 1.625" OR a rifle that shoots .357 Mag or larger rounds and approved rounds that include the 458 SOCOM.

April 24, 2011, 01:13 PM
No caliber requirement in Texas for hunting game animals, but rimfire isn't legal for white-tailed deer, mule deer, desert bighorn sheep, and pronghorn antelope. With non-game animals, anything goes as long as you own it legally.

April 24, 2011, 01:56 PM
From the Colorado DoW

"Rifles using center fire cartridges of .24 caliber or larger, having expanding bullets of at least seventy (70) grains in weight, except for elk and moose where the minimum bullet weight is eighty-five (85) grains, and with a rated impact energy one hundred (100) yards from the muzzle of at least one thousand (1000) foot pounds as determined by the manufacturer's rating providing that any semiautomatic rifle used shall not hold more than six (6) rounds in the magazine and chamber combined. "

April 24, 2011, 02:17 PM
For NE:

1. rifles that deliver at least 900 ft. lbs of energy at 100 yards;
2. handguns that deliver at least 400 ft. lbs of energy at 50 yards;
3. muzzleloading rifles .44 cal. or larger;
4. muzzleloadering muskets .62 caliber or larger, firing a single slug;
5. shotguns of 20 gauge or larger that fire a single slug;
6. crossbows that have a draw weight of 125 pounds or more.
7. Semi-automatic firearms capable or holding more than six cartridges are NOT allowed

So technically the .223 is legal.

April 24, 2011, 05:30 PM
The only caliber restriction that I'm aware of in NM is for oryx where .243 is the minimum.

April 24, 2011, 07:09 PM
As zdc1775 said,Alabama has no caliber minimum for big game but must be centerfire using mushrooming ammo.

April 24, 2011, 07:51 PM
Kentucky - any centerfire rifle or pistol, but a 10rd magazine limit; shotguns between 410 and 10 gauge with slugs only.

April 24, 2011, 08:43 PM
IIRC "centerfire" is the only rifle restriction on deer/bear in these parts. Not that I would use anything sub-6mm for said game.


April 24, 2011, 08:50 PM
.357 for black bear.

April 26, 2011, 09:38 AM
Indiana Whitetail Deer (our only "big" game)

Handgun: .243" minimum bullet diameter, 1.16" minimum case length
Shotgun: Slugs only, 12, 16, 20, or .410
Rifle: .357" minimum bullet diameter, 1.16" min/1.625" max case length
Muzzleloader: .44 cal minimum firing .357" bullet minimum
Muzzleloading handgun: .50 cal minimum firing .44 cal bullet minimum, 12" min barrel length.

April 26, 2011, 09:57 PM
1. rifles that deliver at least 900 ft. lbs of energy at 100 yards;
2. handguns that deliver at least 400 ft. lbs of energy at 50 yards;

More handgun magic!:confused:

April 27, 2011, 12:20 AM
Here it is straight from the Oklahoma wildlife department.

Legal Means of Taking

Rifles: Centerfire rifles firing at least a 55-grain weight soft-nosed or hollow-point bullet and having an overall cartridge case length of 1 1/4 inches or longer (9mm rifles are not legal). Clips or magazines of all .22 caliber centerfire firearms may not be capable of holding more than seven (7) rounds of ammunition.

Muzzleloaders: Equipment described as legal for deer muzzleloader season and blackpowder firearms loaded from the breech are legal.

Shotguns: 20 gauge or larger, firing a single rifled slug are legal.

Centerfire handguns: Chambered for .24 caliber or larger and 100 grain or heavier soft-nosed bullet having an overall cartridge case length of 1 1/4 inches or longer are legal (.357 or larger) and a minimum barrel length of four (4) inches.

Semi-automatic handguns: Chambered for any centerfire ammunition with a 100-grain or heavier soft-nosed bullet and having a cartridge case size of .40 caliber or larger (includes 10 mm, .357 Sig., and 40 cal. or larger) and a minimum barrel length of four (4) inches.

Handguns chambered for any centerfire rifle ammunition: Chambered for any centerfire rifle ammunition using at least a 55-grain soft-nosed bullet and having an overall cartridge case length of 1 1/4 inches or longer and a minimum barrel length of four (4) inches.

Archery: Equipment described as legal for deer archery season.

Illegal devices: Fully automatic firearms, silencers, laser sights and light enhancement devices (night scopes) are illegal.

April 27, 2011, 12:43 AM
No minimum caliber requirement in Idaho, just has to be center-fire.

April 28, 2011, 12:58 PM
Here in MN, it's
-Any centerfire at least .220 caliber
-Single projectile ammunition (no buck shot)
-Soft point/expanding bullet type
-Blackpowder: minimum .40 rifled, .45 smooth-bore, non breech loading.

April 28, 2011, 01:08 PM
Any centerfire for deer and bear.

April 30, 2011, 07:59 AM
.223 or better for big game. Pistol, i cant remember off hand, .36 cap and ball or larger i thunk.

Any centerfire for deer and bear.

Specifying your locations would help.

April 30, 2011, 03:51 PM
No minimum in MISSISSIPPI except on some managed WMAs, and except for muzzleloaders - I think they have to be .38.

April 30, 2011, 09:57 PM
As far as I know here in NY any centerfire.

May 6, 2011, 11:11 PM
Im Alaska, any centerfire ammo is good to go, you gotta decide what your willing to shoot, however :D
Muzzleloaders and Bows have caliber/poundage restrictions.
Subsistance hunters can use .22LR on swimming Caribou.

As to shooting Caribou with a .22LR, its a fairly restricted timeframe and use. for 3 or so months of the year, the rivers are unfrozen, and Caribou love water in its liquid form.
The animals herd and bunch up when making a river crossing, so shooting one in the head and having no pass throughs (wounding others) and general safety for boaters .
But Unlike Elk, 5 feet away and in the back of the head is very doable with Caribou, who are avid swimmers.
The consession to the .22LR law came about when lancing and snareing Caribou at the very same places we now pith them with .22LRs was outlawed in the 50's.
Unlike many places, FnG here realized that harvesting Caribou at these river crossings has been going on traditionaly for centureys (arechologicly proven,) as well, my fatherinlaw , as a young man lanced swimming Caribou and snared along the shores.
This was for a Fall time hunt for Fat, meat and skins at the start of an Arctic winter, with prerut bulls being harvested like Beef onna Ranch, just before the sun quits the land and hunting is all in the dark, no 'Sport' to it at all.
Hunting along known crossings gives you advantage of being able to keep the carcass whole, and in the skin, as its below freezing when the animals will come down from the mountains to insect free river bottoms. Keeping the hide on protects the meat from drying, and and mice, while on the storage racks, and when you give or trade a carcass, the hide is valuable long after the meat is eaten.The hunt ends as the rivers, lakes and tundra ice over and make people stay home for the next month with thin ice. Setting ice nets and catching the Whitefish run is next anywhoo :D ( ( (
This is all we leave behind, after removing the Tounges and the organs from the guts, but sometimes we clean the guts for sausage caseings..... (
Anyway, I wouldnt apply a .22LR in normal cirumstances to a mountain side Elk , but it has its place and time. Caribou skulls from behind are very thin, a very easy target when popping a few fat ones out of a few hundred bunched up , swimming, before they jump outta the water and straight into the willows that line our banks.

.243W is a VERY popular 'round here.

May 6, 2011, 11:18 PM
Here in Missouri, its "center-fire only", with a maximum capacity of 10+1.

May 10, 2011, 12:20 PM
In Idaho there is no restriction on center fire rifles concerning a minimum caliber.

However rim fire rifles are not allowed on big game except for Mountain Lion.

Fully automatic weapons are not legal to use for big game (This is right out of the Idaho Fish and Game regulation rules) :)

Another goofy law in Idaho is the total weight of a rifle must be under 16 pounds.

For muzzle loaders a minimum of .45 cal for deer, pronghorns, and cougar and .50 cal for elk, moose and black bear.

Anything less than #00 buck is illegal for taking big game with shotguns but interestingly enough there is no gauge restriction.

May 10, 2011, 12:39 PM
As far as blackpowder goes in Colorado...
c. To hunt deer, pronghorn or bear, they must be min. of .40 caliber.
d. To hunt elk or moose, they must be min. of .50 caliber.
e. From .40 caliber to .50 caliber, bullets must weigh min. 170 grains.
f. If greater than .50 caliber, bullets must weigh min. 210 grains.
There are a lot of regs for the blackpowder season, but I'm only posting the caliber since that's what this thread is about. But the way I understand it, if you're going to use a muzzleloader during the regular rifle season, you can toss the blackpowder regs. They only apply during the blackpowder season. Scopes, sabots, pelletized powder, electronic ignition etc., and maybe caliber too. I don't know.

Loyalist Dave
May 11, 2011, 10:56 AM
The vast majority of Maryland is shotgun & ML only, so .40 is the smallest in the ML, and I believe you can go as small as 20 gauge, but the .410 is not allowed in a breech loading shotgun. Which is silly as the 3" Winchester rifled slugs are rated at 1800 fps and are much heavier than a .390 round ball, but the round ball is allowed while the .410 is not.


May 11, 2011, 07:59 PM

It is unlawful to hunt big game with:

•A firearm or bow aided by any artificial light or a laser that projects a beam toward the target.
•An autoloading firearm with a capacity of more than 6 shells (one which requires that the trigger be pulled separately for each shot), except an autoloading pistol with a barrel length of less than 8 inches.
•A firearm using rimfire ammunition.
•A shotgun of less than 20 gauge or any shotgun loaded with shells other than those carrying a single projectile.•A bow with a draw weight of 35 lbs or less.
•Arrows with barbed broadheads; arrowheads less than 7/8 inches at the widest point or with less than 2 sharp cutting edges.
•Aircraft of any kind.

May 11, 2011, 08:19 PM
In AZ the requirements are simply center fire rifle or handgun, or shotgun shooting slugs. Not sure on the muzzleloader requirements.

May 11, 2011, 08:57 PM
Shotguns of .410 bore or larger shotguns, loaded with slugs only. (all shotgun slugs)

Rifles of 35 cal or grater, and with a case length of between 1.29 and 1.6 inches. (magnum pistol cartridges, and WSSM based wildcats)

Handguns of 243 cal or greater, with a case length of 1.29 inches or more. (256 Win Mag up to 500 S&W)

May 13, 2011, 12:58 AM

Thanks for posting that, you beat me to it. I'd gone down and got the reg's out and started to write when I saw your post. Thanks again.

May 16, 2011, 05:40 PM
whereas NC used to be any CF rifle or CF revolver as well as bows of 35lbs and up, as of last year it became legal to also use .22 RFs and Crossbows.
They want to control the deer population, but would they do so by moving the dates around? Perish the Thought!!! Instead we just get to empty our Marlin 60's. DUMB!!!!

May 16, 2011, 06:36 PM
FL any centerfire for deer. Hogs anything.

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