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November 28, 2007

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Discussion Topic: Are Rifles As Safe As Shotguns?

From southwestern New York’s Star-Gazette News:

Nine days into the regular hunting season for deer, it doesn't appear that the use of rifles in some [formerly shotgun-only] Southern Tier counties is having a major impact on safety.

At the urging of sportsmen's groups and many county farm bureaus, a new law passed by the state Legislature and signed by the governor this year lifted a longtime ban on rifles for hunting big game in Chemung, Steuben and Yates counties. . . .

Some people felt the change would mean more accidental shootings.
So far, area law enforcement agencies say that hasn't happened.

What do you think? Should more shotgun-only areas lift the ban on centerfire rifles?



Being a Hoosier (really a Boilermaker), i've had first hand experience with this since the IDNR just allowed pistol cartridge rifles to be used during firearms seasons. I don't see a problem w/using rifle calibers anywhere...but i don't understand why the IDNR thinks that pistol cartridge rifles are better than a good slug gun or muzzleloader?


This has never made sense to me. I live north of the border in ontario and where i live we have to use shotguns for deer however we can use rifles for bear and coyotes. We dont have a .30 cal limit and those of us that hunt bear would be using the same rifles that we would use for deer. I think in some areas its a good idea but then you look at some of the shotgun and muzzleloader slugs which some of them go farther then some rifles.


Indiana made the switch this year and allowed SOME straight walled pistol cartridges for deer hunting.

The state does allow handguns chambered in rifle cartridges (that makes no sense) for deer hunting and allows center fire rifles (in all calibers) for varmint hunting.

I'm confused with the logic myself.


As I have said many times, Thank God I live in Alabama!


well, alabama, even though we have some screwed up hunting regulations regarding our rifle usage, our corn-fed Midwestern monsters could kick some deep south buck's ass any day of the week


See... have a government bureaucracy make rules for anything and they'll screw it up every time. Especially if the bureaucrats are politicians too.


I know IN has a muzzleloader season and they are almost like modern rifles now so whats the difference?


Well Greg, if you look at the ballistics of a black powder or black powder substitute powered muzzleloader compared to that of smokeless powder, you'll see that that there is a hug difference in range and bullet drop. Savage 10ML are legal in IN with smokeless powder, but my buddy almost has to beat his bullet to a pulp to achieve a good gas seal


Point well taken. What I meant was that there are M.L.s that are accurate out to 200 yards which is comparable to some rifles.



The ml data is true, but then Indiana would have to have hunting regs that make sense.

What kind of state government do you think we run in this state?


Gov. that makes sense. My apologies!LOL


jstreet are you in IN? I have kin in New Albany and Fredonia.


sorry, know what you're talking about now..I'd take a CVA Optima over a hipo anyday of the week.


NWTFKyle, I didn't say anything about our deer being bigger. I was just talking about how we don't have some of those screwed up laws. By the way, I met people a couple of years ago from western central Illinois, and have hunted there a couple of times. Haven't killed one, but I have seen a couple of 120-130". Nothing I can't kill on my families farm here in Alabama. Actually calling it a farm is using the word farm very loosly. We manage for deer and turkey. Our main crops being chufas and clover.


Every responsible hunter knows his target and what is beyond it. The reason some states employ this rule is because of their flat terrain. the heavier shotgun slugs and bullets used in muzzleloaders just have a shorter range. I know I had never taken a deer at more than 60 yards until this year. At that range they're all adequite enough for a clean kill.I had a bad year and took one at c250. I don't know what the average shot is but it doesn't really matter. Rifle bans need to be lifted. I'd much rather be hunting KY bruisers with my .300 than a shotgun or muzzleloader.


Following an accidental shooting, the Pennsyvlania General Assembly passed a resolution sponsoring a study of whether shotguns and muzzleloaders were safer than rifles for deer hunting in Pennsylvania. The report can be found at http://www.lmt.org/report.pdf

The report makes some very interesting points about this question.



I can think of a few reasons deer seasons are confined to shotgun in certain areas. In Wake co, where I hunt a bit,you have to be at least 8' off the ground to use a rifle. That is a good idea I think, because there are bits of public land that border private property everywhere!

I don't want to lose these spots - get it! I want the access, and while I bow-hunt, I want rifle access also!

Another reason, I think is that many people tend to shoot at running deer. Come on. If you know you are in an area where you could possibly take a shot like that, and there are homes within a mile or two, and you are shooting a 30.06 or a .270, what could happen? Do you really want to possibly be responsible for an accidental shooting? Also, people run dogs, which run deer away from those whom plan on taking the advantage; that sometimes leaves others shooting at running deer.

I hate any ban or restriction placed on my guns or my hunting. But sometimes - it just makes sense. If you live in areas where you can safely say you can take shots at ground level with a high powered rifle, or you can shoot at running animals - I hope you are right - for your sake.


I took a 3-1/2 year old doe opening day of rifle in Wake co. this year in one such "spit of game land", probably no more than 100 acres that sits between several private land-owners - one of whom has no qualms with running around nosy anytime there is a shot, and he hunts them too! The problem is he feeds them as well. He figures the deer are his. An idiot that also loves to start shooting his gun within 60 yards of the road; right about 4 or 5 on good hunting days.

But the point of my whining is that he has been lobbying, and has no problem admitting this to us, to have the area turned into an archery zone. This is why we have the law that requires us to be at least 8' up, on stand, to hunt with a rifle in areas like this. I could hunt this area by bow, but I want the options. Its a long drive from my home.

These areas are very important to me, because when the public land across the road, many more acres, fill up around the American Tobacco Trail, which I haven't mentioned yet, and the waterfowl impoundment fills up with duck hunters, the deer go to the less pressured, smaller spots. Nobody seems to know but me and the guy that needs to go back to England. They all stay in the big woods, while I lay in wait, usually about 9am for the deer to make there way to safety, or so they think. I have harvested several good deer there in this manner. Waiting out the masses in the escape routes.

While I believe his reasons, one of the landowners around the area, are selfish and even unconstitutional, when it comes to wild game being for the public; not the rich, I would not want to make others in the area, with let's say, more open minds, at least to those of us that obey regulations, feel unsafe. That would be unneighborly, and just plain selfish as well.

Just my 2 cts.

WA Mtnhunter

Who said game regulations make sense? You need to be a lawyer to figure some of them out! Obey them or lobby to get the foolish ones changed. Go to state wildlife agency meetings, call and write legislators, and join a conservation group (RMEF, NWTF, etc.). Don't just complain - do something to improve the image of hunters!

John R

My response to the original topic question is that with the newer technology available for shotguns (i.e. rifled barrels w/cantileverd scope mounts, and specialized sabot ammunition) the question is moot. There are shotguns available that can take deer cleanly and ethically at 200 yards. In my locale as well as that of some others who have previously posted, one must be at least 8 feet above the ground when using a rifle. (This is a good idea.) Demographically speaking local area tradition has much to do with the variance of game regulations from state to state. An example is the permitted use of shotguns and buckshot in southern states and the prohibited use almost everywhere else. We do not have to enter an ethical debate over the use of buckshot as most of us seasoned hunters know the pros and cons. The point is there will always remain some unethical use of permitted weapons regardless of locale.


Growing up in New Jersey I learned to live with shotgun only deer hunting. Certainly the current advanced rifled slugs and sabot ammunition do help.
New Hampshire allows rifles for deer with the exception of certain towns with higher population densities, I've not heard too much grousing over the limitations though I've only been here a few years.
My experience watching people shoot and hunt suggests two things; most of us need to practice a lot more (regardless of whether we are riflemen or shotgunners) and most of us should restrict our shots to shotgun ranges anyway. I stop short of suggesting that we should have to shoot a qualification course to get a hunting license renewed every so many years but it might be worth looking at before letting someone out into the woods with a highpowered rifle. Along that line, practicing with slugs is torturous while shooting all but the biggest rifles is fun, hence there might be a safety advantage going the other way!


I have hunted in shotgun only areas in Maryland, and except for those areas with a high residential factor, I could never understand why the areas are restricted. I think that removing the shotgun only restriction, but imposing a mininmum height on tree stands used when hunting with rifles or handguns would be a practical approach. I know that this is probably a daydream since this is strictly a political decision.


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