Did you know wild birds and wild animals can only be hunted with handguns, shotguns and rifles less than 10-gauge? Or otherwise, you opt to use a bow and arrow or crossbow.
Yes, those are some of the intrigues surrounding firearms for hunting!
You’re not just going to buy any firearm and start hunting. There are minimum legal requirements when buying a hunting firearm.
The ideal firearm must meet the law-prescribed gauge, caliber and amount of energy produced by the projectile
A suitable hunting firearm must be powerful enough to kill instantly, fit you properly and have the right amount of recoil.
Looking to purchase a hunting recoil? Let’s see some of the legal requirements to consider.
Legal requirements when choosing a hunting firearm
The firearm and ammunition you choose depends on the game you’re hunting. There are specific recommended ammunition for specific species.
Below are some laws pertaining to a firearm for shooting.
Use of automatic firearms
- It’s illegal to hunt with an automatic firearm that will continue shooting as long as the trigger is held back.
- It is also unlawful to possess or hunt with an auto-loading firearm. This is a firearm that will reload itself with every shot. It also requires a separate trigger for every shot and has a magazine of 5 cartridges or more. But the provision does not apply to .22 caliber rifles, auto-loading pistols and small caliber guns.
Hunters are not required by law to hunt with bullets that are explosive or tracer bullets.
When hunting bear, moose and deer, you don’t need firearms with a .17 or .22 caliber rimfire. However, there is an exception of .22 magnum which can be used for deer hunting.
You should also not use shotguns that use shot loads to hunt moose and bear.
Hunting migratory birds
When hunting birds, it’s unlawful to hunt migratory species with a shotgun that holds more than three shells. The only exception is when the shotgun has been altered by cutting off.
The shot gun might also be plugged off with a single piece filler that cannot be removed without disassembling the gun. Doing so helps reduce the gun’s shooting capacity to not more than three shells.
Use of silencers
You need a permit from the federal bodies to hunt with a rifle fitted with a silencer. While you don’t need a permit from the wardens to hunt with a suppressor device, you still need a permit from a suitable body.
Consider getting a permit from either the Firearms and Explosives (ATF) or the The Bureau of Alcohol and Tobacco.
Throughout the expanded archery deer hunting season, no hunter is allowed to carry any firearm.
On a regular bow and arrow deer hunting season, no hunter should carry a firearm. The only exception is to carry a handgun. This is in accordance with Title 25 section 2001-A.
However, the handgun should not be used to shoot or dispatch a wounded deer.
Hunters need to be aware of archery licenses. The license allows for archery hunting throughout the season with one exception of the deer muzzleloader season. The archery license is mandatory during the regular and expanded seasons.
Apart from the archer license, hunters need a permit during the expanded archery season. Most can be bought at $12 each or $32 for hunting either-sex.
However, getting an archery license must come with proof of having successfully completed an archery hunter education course.
Carrying concealed and loaded firearms in motor vehicles
You also need to know the legal requirements around carrying loaded and concealed firearms in motor vehicles.
Unless and otherwise specified, it’s unlawful to carry loaded firearms and bows in a motor vehicle. A motor vehicle here can be an ATV, snowmobile, railway car, aircraft, trailer, etc.
It’s legal to carry a loaded magazine. But the magazine should not be inserted in a firearm.
You can also carry a firearm in a vehicle without a concealed permit. However, the firearms should be unloaded in plain view and placed in a secure remote area. This can be a locked trunk but away from other occupants in the vehicle.
Crossbows are considered loaded when they are cocked and armed. For a muzzleloader, it’s considered loaded if a primed ignition device or projectile is charged with powder.
It’s legal to carry a concealed handgun without a permit in a motor vehicle under certain conditions. The conditions are:
- The person is above 21 years and not prohibited from possessing a firearm.
- A person is 18 years and above and under 21 years but in active duty in the National Guard or Armed Forces in the United States. A honorably discharged veteran and not prohibited from carrying a firearm can also carry a concealed firearm without a permit.
Laws on the use of illegal devices and lights
Update yourself with devices considered illegal when hunting. Medicinal, poisonous or a set gun when hunting is considered an illegal device. Legal requirements prohibits stupfying substances with a few exceptions.
An Exception is the use of a rodenticide and gas cartridges to control mice and woodchuck.
Set bows and drawlocks are also considered illegal. There are only a few exceptions for disabled hunters and this must be specified.
During the muzzleloader season, hunting with a crossbow is illegal.
The use of lights 30 minutes after sunset and 30 minutes before sunrise to illuminate and locate wild animals and birds is also illegal. But there is an exception of racoons which can be hunted at night using flashlights.
Another exception is when agents from an established department are given permission to hunt coyotes.
Hunters also need to meet certain clothing requirements in certain conditions. A hunter orange is a daylight fluorescent color with 595 to 605 wavelength nanometers.
You need good clothing that is visible from both sides.
These are just a few of the common legal requirements when selecting a firearm. The rules might vary slightly from one region to another. Make sure you’re up to date with the latest laws regarding firearm purchase, use and safety before making a purchase.
With more than 50 years experience in the field and the testing lab, author L.P. Brezny is one of today’s most recognized shotgun experts and authors. He is a contributor to dozens of firearms publications, such as Wildfowl, Shotgun Sports, and Varmint Hunters, and he is a regular columnist in the Gun Digest annual as well as AmmoLand News.