Can You Hunt Turkey with a 22 Rifle

Can You Hunt Turkey with a 22 Rifle?

Whether you prefer hunting with bows, pistols, shotguns, or rifles, there’s something more captivating about hunting turkeys with a 22 rifle. The question is; can you hunt turkey with a 22 rifle and is it even allowed? Well, let’s find out.

Turkey is a noble bird; strong, proud, and of course, very sumptuous. These are perhaps some of the reasons why it’s widely considered America’s national bird and not the lowly American eagle. A sumptuous bird that is the main dish during Thanksgiving, this bird can be found in the wild but the method of hunting it is always a contentious topic and may vary from state to state. While archery methods such as bow and arrows as well as shotguns and small-caliber rifles are allowed in most states; the most pressing question remains; can you hunt turkey with a 22 rifle?

Although using a 22 rifle to hunt turkey is illegal in certain states such as Montana, California, Arkansas, and New York, it greatly depends on the ability of the shooter to take a clean shot without leaving the bird to escape with devastating injuries. This is why hunters are often advised to shoot at the head or neck area of the bird. So the most important thing is to find out whether using a 22 rifle to hunt turkey is allowed in your state and you’ll be good to go.

There’s no doubt that one of the few things that make the United States great as a country is the right of choice and all the freedoms that come with these choices. It is these freedoms that allow us to hunt various edible wild animals including turkey as long as we partake in what is known as responsible hunting. So whether you prefer using bows and arrows, a shotgun, or a 22 rifle, the most important thing is to observe the laws put in place and carry on with your hunting activities in a humane manner.

That being said, this article takes you through all the issues and legalities revolving around using a 22 rifle to hunt turkeys. While we may not be able to cover all the states, we’ll offer certain examples and also delve into the advantages and disadvantages of using a 22 rifle to hunt for turkeys. So read on and learn more about how to go about hunting a wild turkey using a 22 rifle.

Is Hunting with a 22 Rifle Legal?

When it comes to hunting, fishing, and gaming activities, it’s important to always keep in mind that laws and regulations may always vary depending on each state. This is why it’s of great importance to ensure that you’re fully aware of the state laws and regulations before you partake in any wild turkey hunting activity as you do not want to find yourself on the wrong side of the law.

With that in mind, hunting a wild turkey with a rifle is legal in many states. You, however, have to keep in mind that there are minimum calibers for turkey hunting and this is where you might find your activities minimized if you have a 22-caliber rifle. Some of the states that allow the use of a rifle to hunt turkeys include Texas, Florida, Colorado, Maryland, Alabama, Wyoming, Virginia, Missouri, Utah, Oklahoma, and West Virginia.

And even if your intended hunting state allows for turkey hunting using a rifle, it’s vital to ensure that a 22 rifle is among the rifles that are allowed. You should also be aware of other regulations that might be ignored but may leave you on the wrong side of the law. For example, most states that allow for turkey hunting using a rifle only allow it during the fall season, which means that using the same during other seasons will be deemed illegal.

Again, you have to always remember that the laws regarding turkey hunting are often esoteric. This means that they can be subject to change frequently and without notice. As such, you MUST be very familiar with the hunting regulations of the local jurisdictions as you won’t be able to claim ignorance if you find yourself in legal troubles that may amount to penalties and even jail time.

In short, you have to be aware of the turkey hunting laws and regulations in your hunting area before embarking on any hunting adventure for those beautiful and delicious birds. For instance, you’ll come across some states that stipulate specific species-by-species guidelines that can be or cannot be hunted using rifles. In essence, you have to look carefully and ensure that the particular species of turkey that you go for can be hunted using a 22 rifle. As we noted earlier, ignorance won’t be used to defend you against prosecution as far as hunting regulations are concerned.

Where Should You Should a Turkey Using a .22 Rifle?

So suppose you have done your due diligence and determined that it’s perfectly legal to use a 22 rifle on hunting turkey in your state, it’s essential to know where to aim if you have to carry your hunting adventure in a human manner.

There are two parts of the turkey that are often recommended:

  • Headshot
  • Broadside Vitals


If you’re planning on using a 22 rifle on hunting turkeys, it’s often advisable to go for the head or the neck. This is, without a doubt, the best place to shoot a turkey as it will produce a quick, clean, and humane kill. You, however, have to keep in mind that turkeys are elusive and alert and will most probably be moving their heads constantly. This will obviously make it challenging to get a clean headshot but that should always be your aim.

Broadside Vitals

One of the most important things to keep in mind is that a turkey is a strong and resilient bird that might take off even after you shoot it on the body. As you’ve probably imagined, it is inhumane to shoot a turkey and let it escape as it will probably suffer in pain. This is why there are fierce online debates on whether or not you should shoot a turkey on the body.

So, if you can’t go for the headshot and has to go for the body, make sure that you aim for the broadside vitals. This can include the base of the neck or right behind where wings attach to the body. The idea here is that you do not just want to hurt the turkey and let it suffer in pain. Instead, you want to make sure that the shot hits the turkey where it can penetrate the heart and lung areas.

Of course, those who are against a perfect body shot may also argue that a body shot can ruin more meat than anticipated. Well, this won’t be the case if you use a 22 rifle. This is because the bullet will most certainly not go all the way through a bird as huge as a turkey but this will, of course, depend on the circumstances, distance, your skills, and accuracy.

You, therefore, have to always remember that the head of a turkey is the best option but too small to get an accurate shot using a 22 rifle, especially at long range. This would mean that the only option is targeting the broadside vitals just below the point where wind contacts the body. This is where the bird’s vital organs are located.

What are Some of the Reasons that May Make You Hesitate Before Hunting Turkey with a .22 Rifle?

Here are a few reasons why you may want to think twice before hunting a turkey with a 22 rifle.

It Could be Illegal

We cannot emphasize more the importance of ensuring that it’s legal to hunt a turkey with a 22 rifle in your area. If you aren’t sure of the rules and regulations pertaining to hunting a turkey with a 22 rifle in a particular area, you’d be better off not indulging in such an activity as it would be illegal and would leave you facing prosecution and a possible jail term or a hefty fine.

It can be Deadly

If you have the experience of using both rifles and shotguns, you’ll agree with the fact that rifles rounds are more powerful and can travel a lot faster and further than shotgun rounds. This is, in fact, one of the main reasons why the use of 22 rifles in hunting turkeys is banned in most states. This would, therefore, mean that you have to be a lot more careful and conscious of the backdrop of what you’re shooting.

For example, hunting a turkey with a 22 rifle is not advisable on public land as you can cause serious injuries to others. Again, most hunters are camouflaged and the probability of noticing them or being aware of their presence is quite low. If anything, there are chances that you could be targeting the same group of turkeys without being aware of each other’s presence and this can be a recipe for a deadly disaster.

Unrecovered Turkeys or Animals

Another major risk that comes to mind when using a 22 rifle or any type of gun for that matter to hunt a turkey is that there are chances of not getting a clean shot and you may end up wounding or even crippling the bird. A 22 rifle is designed to hunt small games including Squirrels and rabbits and it can be a bad scenario if you do not get a clean shot on the turkey and it gets away with a serious or even crippling injury.

You have to keep in mind that shooting a turkey or any animal for that matter and failing to recover it is one of the worst scenarios to find yourself in during your hunting adventure. As such, you should have the ethical responsibility of not only making sure that the prey is hunted in a humane manner but also recovered after being shot. This is the unwritten rule of hunting.

Advantages of Using a 22 Rifle to Hunt Turkey

It is true that a 22 rifle will not give you the huge firepower or come in intimidating designs like those machine guns that you’ve been seeing in movies. However, it will quietly go about the business of hunting a turkey and that’s why it’s one of the most popular rifles in the United States.

That aside, one of the main advantages of using a 22 rifle to hunt turkey revolves around the fact that it can be easily and perfectly handled by both novice and expert shooters. This is because it has relatively low noise and doesn’t recoil. This makes it a perfect weapon for hunting an animal as elusive and alert as a wild turkey.

And even if you’re a novice shooter, a 22 rifle will just turn out right as it will make you more comfortable because it doesn’t recoil and so you won’t have to flinch as it naturally happens when anticipating a recoil. This means that a 22 rifle will easily and quickly enable you to find the right posture and follow-through, which is of great importance if you want to get a clean shot on a turkey.


To this end, you shouldn’t have any doubt in your mind when it comes to hunting a turkey with a 22 rifle. This is because it’s quite possible and very practical. Of course, not everyone will agree with the fact that you can use a 22 rifle to hunt for turkey. As long as it’s legal to use a 22 rifle to hunt turkey in your area, we actually do not see any reason why anybody should tell you otherwise.

In addition to ensuring that you’re adhering to the rules and regulations of the area regarding hunting a turkey with a 22 rifle, you have to apply ethics and reasoning such as hunting a turkey in a reasonable and humane manner. You should also make sure that you recover the turkey once it’s shot as you do not want it languishing in the meadow with a bullet lodged somewhere in its body.

Most importantly, go out there and have fun hunting turkey while using whatever legal means that are available.

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