It’s loaded when…
Under the provincial Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, in the case of a percussion muzzleloader, if there’s a charge of powder and a projectile in the barrel and a percussion cap on the nipple, it’s considered to be loaded.
In the case of a muzzleloader which is not a percussion muzzleloader, if there’s a charge of powder and a projectile in the barrel and the vent is unplugged, it’s considered to be loaded.
Under the federal Firearms Act (Storage, Display, Transportation and Handling of Firearms by Individuals Regulations) a gun, including a muzzleloader, is considered to be unloaded if any propellant, projectile or cartridge that can be discharged from the firearm is not contained in the breech or firing chamber of the firearm nor in the cartridge magazine attached to or inserted into the firearm.
Storage and transportation
Also, Critchlow notes, “Under the federal Storage, Display, Transportation and Handling of Firearms by Individuals Regulations Transportation of Non-restricted Firearms section, muzzleloaders must be stored and transported unloaded.
There are, however, some exceptions, including storage at a hunt camp in a remote wilderness setting, or while being transported from one hunting site to another,” he explains. “In the latter case, while the muzzleloader does not have to be unloaded, it must have the firing cap or flint removed. Note that this exception does not apply to transporting anywhere other than from one hunting site to another. For further information on the Firearms Act and its regulations you should contact your local police.”
Critchlow says muzzleloading hunters could be held to either federal Firearms Act or the provincial Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act at the discretion of the Conservation Officer. Similarly, hunters dealing with provincial police forces might be subject to either standard.
Therefore, the most prudent course of action is to unload projectile and powder from muzzleloader when storing them after hunts or during transport.
More muzzleloader considerations
For hunting, a muzzleloader may be used in any season except a bows-only season in Ontario. The province offers several special bow- and muzzleloader-only seasons for moose and deer.
There are no calibre restrictions for game being hunted with a muzzleloading rifle. However, when hunting wild turkey with a muzzleloading shotgun, the same gauge restrictions apply as to any other shotgun, i.e. must be between 10 and 20 gauge. When hunting migratory birds, non-toxic shot restrictions apply.
First published in the August 2014 issue of Ontario OUT OF DOORS.