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How to Hunt Legally – Complying with Equipment Regulations While Deer Hunting

Hunting is heavily regulated because it concerns the killing of wildlife.

In my view, hunting is a really thrilling sport because it’s highly unpredictable. Also, a person that is skilled in hunting would have obtained a multitude of benefits too. Hunting is an extremely useful skill for a survival enthusiast too. You get to maintain a healthy body, develop skills that are beneficial for survival and even spend extra time with your loved ones.

Just like any sport, hunting has its rules that you need to follow. The rules are made and complied with to ensure the safety of every participant in the sport. Similarly, hunting rules are made to ensure the safety of people and help maintain proper order.

In this article, I will delve deep into how you can hunt deer legally with archery equipment and firearms.

Archery Equipment

In this portion, I attempt to list out the regulations for hunting with archery equipment in different states. Hunting is definitely one of the worthwhile skills to

I find that it is more convenient for readers to refer to the regulations available for each state, so that we can have a good overview of the rules that a person needs to comply.

Here are some basics about archery equipment:

Compound and Recurve bows use arrows for shooting.

For crossbows, projectiles are used for shooting.

Draw weight is the amount of force required to hold the bow stationary when it is at full draw.

As for using tips with poison, explosive and chemicals, most states have prohibited this use.

1. Washington

Bows – Bows that are used for big game hunting must contain a minimum draw weight of 40 pounds.  

Arrows – The arrows that are used for big game hunting must weigh at least 300 grans, with a minimum of 6 grains per pound.

We cannot attach electrical devices to the bow or arrow too.

Broadheads – The broadheads must be really sharp and be 7/8 inches wide. Also, barbed broadheads are illegal. What is a barbed broadhead? It is basically a broadhead where the trailing edge of the broadhead is less than 90 degrees from the arrow shaft.

Vehicles – Bowhunters are now allowed to shoot their game from a vehicle. Also, bowhunters are not allowed to shoot along a public road.

2. Maryland

Archery equipment – Generally, the use of archery equipment in Maryland is legal. If you are hunting deer or bear, the vertical bow you use must have a full draw and pull of more than 30 pounds.

Archery equipment’s are permitted for hunting deers throughout the whole of the deer hunting seasons.

Arrows – The broadheads that are used for the arrows and bolts must be sharpened with metal points and have a width of minimum ⅞ inches.

Bows – The minimum draw weight for regular bows is 30 lbs.

For crossbows, there’s a minimum draw weight of 75 lbs.

Furthermore, Crossbows must contain working safety feature.

3. Oklahoma

Crossbow draw weight – For crossbows, there’s a minimum draw weight required, which is 100 lbs.

Furthermore, Bolts must at least have a length of 14-inches.

Leverage Gaining Devices – Oklahoma allows the use of leverage gaining devices.

What are these leverage gaining devices? Basically, they are cocking aids that can help you cock your crossbow. In other words, this device can help you lock the crossbow in the ‘draw position’ before you shoot. 

Compound bows – For compound bows, Oklahoma have set a minimum of 30 pounds for the draw weight while recurve bows must be 40 pounds or more.

Arrows – For broadheads, Oklahoma similarly requires it to be ⅞ inch wide.

4. Oregon

Crossbows – Do note, that crossbows are not allowed in Oregon. This is unique because this is the only state that bans the use of crossbows. Most of the states usually allow the use of crossbows for a fixed period and location.

5. New Hampshire

Crossbows – In New Hampshire, you can use crossbows to harvest deer during regular archery season, only when you are in wildlife management units.  

Arrows – In New Hampshire, you need to mark your name and address on your arrows and bolts before use.

Bows – The bows need to have a minimum draw weight of 40 lbs.

Fixed Blade Broadheads – In New Hampshire, the fixed blade broadheads that you use must be between ⅞ inches to 1½ inches, while retractable blade broadheads cannot be less than ⅞ inches when expanded.

6. California

Crossbows – In California, crossbows are only legal for people with disabilities. It’s illegal to hunt with a crossbow unless you hold a Disabled Archer Permit. Only when you have this permit, it can be considered legal to use a crossbow for hunting during gun seasons.

7. South Carolina

Arrows – For bowhunters from South Carolina, there are no restrictions on the width or length of arrows or broadheads.  

Bow – Also, there are no requirements for draw weight. Crossbows area also allowed on private lands and wildlife management areas state-wide for all hunting seasons.

Firearms Regulation

There are different types of firearms for hunting deer, including handgun, shotgun and rifle. In different hunting seasons, you are allowed to use different types of firearms.

Hunter Hunting Deer
Image by JamesDeMers from Pixabay

Many states have different legal requirements for barrel lengths, cartridges used and the size of the gun you use. You need to note the different legal rules in each state.

Make sure to check out the state’s laws before shopping for hunting gears.

1. Indiana

Shotguns – In this state, the shotguns used are required to use shotguns with a gauge size of 10-, 12-, 16-, 20-, or 28-gauge. Alternatively, .410 bore loaded with slugs or saboted bullets are accepted too.

Also, you can opt for combination rifle-shotguns, as they are allowed to be used for deer hunting.

Barrels – Rifled slug barrels are permitted in this state.

Handguns – Handguns are legal to be used for deer hunting during the firearms, reduction zone and special antlerless seasons in Indiana. They must have barrels of 4 inches long at minimum that fires a bullet of .243 inch or larger.

2. Oklahoma

Shotguns – Only shotguns that have a size of 20 gauge or larger, that fires a single slug are legalized in this state.

3. Alabama

Shotguns – In Alabama, shotguns are only allowed to be 10 gauge or smaller. You can use buckshot, slugs or single round ball as projectiles.

Rifles – Also, in this state, hunters using rifles are required to use those with mushrooming ammunition. Mushrooming ammunition basically mean bullets that are designed to expand as it penetrates the target. This regulation was made to ensure that each kill are made as swiftly as possible, and not them suffer slowly before going to their deathbed.

4. Virginia

Shotguns – In Virginia, shotguns must not be larger than 10 gauge. Also, the barrels used must be 18 inches or longer.

Furthermore, unplugged shotguns are legal for hunting non-migratory game and crows.

Also, Shotguns with rifled barrels are permitted to be used in areas where slugs may be used.

5. Nevada

Rifle – A hunter that uses a rifle needs to get a rifle with centrefire cartridge between .22 to .50 caliber.

Also, the length of the cartridge must not exceed 3 inches.

6. Maryland

Rifle – In Maryland, rifles that are legal for hunting deer are those that use ammunition.  It must be a muzzle that can shoot with an energy of at least 1,200-foot pounds. To identify that, you may need to consult an expert.

For rifles, Maryland only allows rifles to be used during the firearm seasons and junior deer hunt days.

7. Delaware

Handguns – Certain handgun cartridges are illegal for deer hunting in Delaware, such as the .38 Smith and Wesson, .38 Special and the .45 Auto Rim.

Usually, revolvers and single shot pistols are used for deer hunting here.

Also, they must have a barrel length of 5.75 inches or more. They must be carried openly too, and you cannot conceal it.

Delaware allows handguns to be carried in lieu of a shotgun during shotgun seasons, if you do not carry both handgun and shotgun at the same time.


Being a responsible hunter and outdoor enthusiast, you need to know all the regulations governing these matters.

If you fail to comply with one of those rules, you may be fined by the authorities or criminal sanction may even be imposed for certain offences.

Be sure to keep yourself updated with the regulations so that you can always keep yourself at the right side of the law.

Author bio: I am Peter Betts, a survivalist and outdoor enthusiast. I have spent hours researching and learning about what is needed to help keep you and your loved ones safe. To learn more about my work, you can check out The Survival Hacks.

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