Indiana's Byzantine Deer laws

Yesterday’s post about the .458 SOCOM being legal for deer sparked a flood of emails and comments about “whatinhell is wrong over there” for deer hunting.  As Tam pointed out so eloquently in comments, it’s actually pretty straight forward; but here goes.  In the early 20th Century in Indiana, farmers and over hunting had pushed the whitetail deer population in Indiana damn near to extinction.  So, the government passed a series of regulations which would in effect make taking a deer much more difficult.  At the time, the regulations were such that you could only take a deer with archery, or a shotgun loaded with slugs.  Over time those regulations expanded to include muzzleloaders, pistols in certain calibers, and carbines in certain pistol calibers.

A sample of “legal” guns:

  • A muzzleloader, caliber .54
  • A .410 shotgun loaded with slugs
  • A TC Contender pistol in .270 Winchester
  • A Marlin Guide Gun in .45 Colt

Examples of illegal guns for deer in Indiana:

  • A rifle chambered in .270 Winchester
  • Anything chambered in .30 Carbine
  • A pistol chambered in .45 ACP
  • A Marlin Guide Gun in .45/70

See?  Clear as mud.


  1. Illinois isn’t much better, but perhaps a bit clearer: (for deer)

    – Shotguns are ok, no sizes larger than 10 GA and no sizes smaller than 20GA. Slugs only.

    – Muzzle loaders of .45 or larger caliber, single or double barrel are ok.

    – Centerfire revolvers or single shot pistols of .30 caliber or larger with a 4″ barrel length.

    Trouble is that the culture in Northern Illinois is changing a bit – the demographic is shifting to suburbanites and most of ’em have never hunted before…

  2. If it’s in .45 Colt its a Marlin 1894. It’s only a guide gun if it’s on the 1895 frame and chambered in .45-70, with an 18.5 inch barrel. I have no idea why I suddenly felt the need to let my inner dork out, sorry.

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