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I would like to hunt deer with a rifle this year, but am confused about which cartridges are legal. How can I tell if my rifle is legal to hunt with in Indiana?
The law allows deer hunters to use rifles with cartridges that fire a bullet of .357-inch diameter or larger and a case length between 1.16 inches and 1.625 inches. To determine if your rifle is legal, measure the diameter of the bullet to determine if it is larger than .357 of an inch and then measure the case length to determine if it is between 1.16 and 1.625 inches. If the bullet is larger than .357 of an inch and the case length falls between the upper and lower limits, the rifle is legal.
Some cartridges legal for deer hunting include the .357 Magnum, .38-.40 Winchester, .41 Magnum, .41 Special, .44 Magnum, .44 Special, .44-.40 Winchester, .45 Colt, .454 Casull, .475 Linebaugh, .480 Ruger, .50 Action Express, and .500 S&W.
The idea behind the new rifle regulations is to allow rifles chambered for cartridges with sufficient ballistics to efficiently harvest deer, but not allow cartridges with ballistics that might encourage hunters to take shots at ranges that are unsafe considering Indiana’s relatively high population density. This rules out what are typically considered high-powered rifles and allows many medium to large cartridges.
Eric Crook, with Sportsman’s Warehouse in Lafayette, displays two rifles that can be used to hunt deer in Indiana. On the left is a Marlin Model 1894, .357 Magnum. On the right is a Taurus Thunderbolt, .45 Colt.
Above: Eric Crook, with Sportsman's Warehouse in Lafayette, displays two rifles that can be used to hunt deer in Indiana. On the left is a Martin Model 189, .357 Magnum. On the right is a Taurus Thunderbolt, .45 Colt.
To submit a question, write Outdoor Indiana, Ask an Expert, 402 W. Washington St., Room W255B, Indianapolis IN 46204 or email OI@dnr.in.gov