Straight-wall rifle cartridges have been allowed in Ohio for deer season for the past few years.

This offers a hunter better ballistics over the old shotgun slug on any hunt. Here are the top seven rifle cartridges that you’ll see out in the woods during Ohio deer hunting season.

Ohio deer hunters still remember the days of shotgun slugs or muzzleloading rifles mandated by hunting regulations. They were the only legal deer gun season long guns allowed during season. Times have changed and straight-walled cartridge rifles from .357 as the smallest to .50 as the largest are now legal for deer hunting.

While slug guns and muzzleloaders are still legal in Ohio, the ability to use centerfire rifle ammo offers much more in terms of range and stopping power. The following calibers will no doubt be the favorites that many Ohio hunters will be armed with this deer gun season.

1. .45-70 Government


The .45-70 Government cartridge is a hard-hitter suitable for all large game at short-to-medium ranges. A well-sighted-in rifle with practice is a deer dropper all the way out at 200 yards away. A quality lever-action rifle or single-shot rifle will give any hunter an edge with many loads available to fuel this caliber. Pick hot or moderate loads and the deer drop either way with this superb straight-walled cartridge. Of all the big-game rifle cartridges, the .45-70 is my personal favorite. Most people who’ve hunted with this cartridge would also agree it’s the king.

2. .450 Bushmaster


A new player in the rifle pistol cartridge world is the .450 Bushmaster. The ODNR recently approved this cartridge, making it ready for the hunt. While it was made for AR-15 rifle platforms, you can now find single-shot and bolt-action rifles that use it. This hard-hitting round is great for deer, as it’s now a legal deer hunting cartridge here in Ohio. A 225-grain FTX bullet clocked at 2,310 fps will take any buck down quickly. Hunting deer in the Buckeye State has just gotten a lot more interesting.

3. .444 Marlin

For deer hunting season, what says traditional like the .444 Marlin? This cartridge came out to give lever-action rifles more punch when the .45-70 caliber rifles hadn’t been commercially produced commercially for years. When hunters needed a big-bore, lever-action rifle, the .444 Marlin was there to satisfy the craving.

4. .38-55 Winchester


This is one of the granddaddies of the deer hunting straight wall cartridge rifle calibers. This soft-shooting caliber was a popular deer cartridge in other states years back. With vintage rifles still hitting the woods, those lucky enough to have one find this cartridge to be a great whitetail deer round.

5. .50 Beowulf

Another proven AR-15 platform, big-bore caliber is the .50 Beowulf. That wide, .50-caliber bullet will certainly do very well for any deer hunter armed with such a non traditional weapon. It’s legal and humane, so what’s there to complain about?

6. .44 Magnum


The .44 Magnum cartridge isn’t just for revolvers. When chambered in an accurate rifle, this hard-hitting cartridge as much more power than a handgun length barrel. With light recoil out of a rifle this is a great choice for hunters who wish to stay away from heavy recoil but still throw a big bullet downrange. Also many .44 Magnum rifles will fire .44 Special ammunition. That allows for even lighter recoiling practice and is also legal for deer hunting in Ohio.

7. .357 Magnum


The .357 Magnum is an adequate revolver hunting cartridge for deer. It certainly should be considered in a rifle. When added to a rifle-length barrel this little cartridge gets some major teeth. With great rifles like the Henry Big Boy chambered for it this light-kicking cartridge is perfect for youth deer gun season. Recoil on such a weapon is extremely light for the young, small-stature or elderly hunter. The best part is cheap practice with .38 Special ammunition to be right on target when that shot of a lifetime appears.

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