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Airgun Hunting Laws

What states allow airgun hunting? Choose your state to see what's allowed.

We have worked together with Airgun Sporting Association to compile state specific regulations for airgun hunting. This map shows the states where it is legal to hunt with airguns, and also lists restrictions, if there are any. Remember, pest control is approved in all states, but this map lists any game above and beyond that. We've listed over 100+ species - and have included everything from rabbit, white tail deer and everything in between.

There are 2 ways to use this map:

  1. Airgun hunting by state: Simply click on the state, and it will list all the species that are allowed to be hunted in that state.
  2. Airgun hunting by specific game: Choose any state, and click on the species name you want, and it will highlight all the states where that particular species can be legally hunted.

Because of the ever changing laws, use this map as a guide, but consult with your local state authorities to be sure there are no recent state changes impacting hunting laws and regulations in that particular state!

HI DE RI AK CA CO NV OR WA ID MT WY UT AZ NM TX OK KS NE SD ND MN IA MO AR LA MS AL GA FL SC NC TN VA WV KY OH IN IL WI MI PA NY VT ME NH MA CT NJ MD

*Click on the specific state and read state specific regulations, limitations and requirements.
Always consult with your local state authorities to be sure there were no recent state changes impacting hunting laws and regulations in that particular state!

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Legal Air Rifle Hunting

Since the airgun was first invented someone has always hunted with it. Be it frogs, birds, squirrels, snakes, or insects. Kids and adults have all done it.

Little did we know that we were probably breaking the law.

In 2008, Missouri was one of the first states in America to allow airguns to be used to harvest large game.

Since that time, changing the laws for hunting all sizes of game animals with airguns has been an ongoing commitment. Many airgunners across the country have taken to educating legislators and State Game Management officials about the capabilities and advantages of using a big bore airgun for big game hunting.

As more states allow airguns to be used in hunting, it makes it easier for other states to change their airgun hunting laws as a precedent has already been set, and they can follow those guidelines.

You may not use just any airgun for hunting, each state has set its own standards of minimum caliber and power levels that can be used for different sized game.

The weapons that meet these standards are a far cry from the Daisy Red Ryder or Benjamin pump-up pellet guns people may envision when the term airgun is used.

Air rifles capable of killing game as large as American Bison have been around since the 1700s. Lewis and Clark carried an air rifle on their famous expedition west.

Although used primarily as a show of strength to prevent possible attacks from some Native American Indian tribes, the Girandoni air rifle they carried was capable of firing up to 30 shots before requiring the removable air reservoir be changed with a fully charged one, which could then be recharged from a hand pump.

This same airgun design was also in service with the Austrian army from 1780 until 1815, it was favored because it did not produce a huge smoke cloud when fired like muzzleloading flintlocks of the time, and it was also a repeater, requiring only a few seconds between shots, something unheard of at that time. Modern airguns that can be used for hunting are capable of firing bullets and even arrows with great accuracy and power.

Air Gun Regulations

In the United States, airgun hunting regulations and requirements are governed at a state level, therefore each state has different seasons and different minimum caliber and velocity/power requirements.

Most states allow airguns to be used for harvesting game during the regular firearms hunting seasons, but not during the primitive weapons seasons if your state has those special seasons.

Some states like Texas require a minimum of a .30 caliber airgun with a 150-grain projectile, shooting a minimum of 800 feet per second, producing at least 215-foot pounds of energy at the muzzle, or a combination of bullet weight and velocity meeting or exceeding the 215-foot pounds of energy minimum.

Other states have a minimum of a .35 caliber, while others have a minimum of .40 caliber and at least 400-foot pounds of energy at the muzzle.

Pyramyd Air has this interactive guide that shows airgun laws by state and what types of game animals can be harvested with airguns.

You should consult your state Department of Wildlife & Fisheries for up-to-date revisions of the 2021 air gun hunting laws.

In addition to air rifles, some states allow airbows to be used for hunting big game.

An airbow is a precharged air gun that fires an arrow (also called a bolt) like a crossbow, but it uses compressed air to launch the arrow at speeds that are unattainable by most modern handheld crossbows and compound bows, and much faster than a traditional recurve or longbow are capable of.

An added benefit of the airbow is its lightweight, and its great level of accuracy, since there is no mechanical movement or vibration other than a valve opening at the instant of firing.

If you live outside of the United States please consult your country's requirements involving licensing, hunting, and any special airgun requirements beforehand.

Common Questions

Do you need a license to hunt with a pellet gun?

This question has both a yes and no answer.

From squirrels to deer, if you are hunting native game animals on public land, yes, you should have a license. An airgun hunter has to abide by the same laws that apply to hunters that use firearms.

By law, 100% of the license fees you pay to hunt, fish, or trap goes to the funding of state wildlife resources and conservation programs. This helps to ensure there will be hunting and fishing opportunities for future generations.

Some entrepreneurial landowners have invested in breeding exotic game animals for pay-hunting customers.

Some landowners have even gone all out and offer helicopter hunts, you pay to be flown around and shoot feral hogs from a moving helicopter.

This is done on private land, and most state laws do not apply to exotic game animals or invasive species that are hunted on privately owned land.

Remember, always check the air rifle hunting laws in your area before you go hunting.

What can you hunt with an air rifle?

Just to be clear, we are not talking about low-powered BB or pellet guns, but rather precision airguns that are performing at power levels that are far above what most people think an airgun is capable of producing.

Spring-powered airguns should be limited to use for small game and pest control, and precharged pneumatic guns (abbreviated as PCP) rifles can be used for everything from small to very large game with amazing accuracy. They range in calibers from the commonly used .177 all the way up to .50 caliber.

As larger caliber airguns capable of producing anywhere from 200 to 800-foot pounds of energy or more have become commercially available, and have proven they can ethically harvest larger and larger game. There is a growing contingent of airgun enthusiasts seeking the opportunity to push the envelope of what can be harvested with an airgun.

Can you hunt with an air rifle?

Airguns are vastly different from the centerfire rifles or shotguns most hunters have traditionally used to hunt game animals.

Knowing the limitations of your equipment is critical to reducing or avoiding wounding an animal and losing them.

Before buying an airgun, you should check the specifications to ensure that it meets the minimum caliber and muzzle velocity/muzzle energy requirements of your state.

Regardless of the size of the game you are hunting, hunters should understand that while several airguns may meet the minimum standards for them to be legal for hunting, different manufacturers and models may have different levels of accuracy and effectiveness.

Other factors such as the proficiency of the hunter using an airgun, the distance to the target, and the type and weight of the bullet being used. All factor into the ability of that airgun to perform well enough to deliver a lethal shot.

The amount of air pressure in the reservoir on the airgun drops after each shot which changes ballistics and the effectiveness of the airgun in its ability to take game. Hunters should be aware of the number of shots an airgun can produce on a fully charged tank before its velocity drops below the legal and effective limit.

Although medium and large game animals have been harvested with airguns at distances over 150 yards, the effective range is recommended to be 75 yards or less.

Beyond 75 yards, the ability of some air guns to be lethal becomes diminished, so it is critical for hunters to know the limitation of the airgun being used and to practice with their equipment just like with any other sporting arm.

Shot placement into vital organs (heart, lungs) is also critical to minimize wounding and losing the animal. The cause of death from airguns would be more similar to traditional muzzleloaders or bow hunting rather than being shot with a centerfire rifle.

Similar to bow hunting, hunters taking animals with an airgun should be encouraged to wait an hour before going to track and retrieve the deer or other game animal. Allowing sufficient time for the animal to run a short distance, then lay down to expire.

Above all, hunters should always strive to make ethical shots that will greatly reduce the chances of wounding and loss of the animal.

Air rifle hunting laws for Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New, Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming

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