The Indiana Department of Natural Resources has unveiled a new package of
recommended changes to deer hunting rules, to be presented to the Natural
Resources Commission (NRC) at its Jan. 11 meeting at Fort Harrison State
Park in Indianapolis.
The recommendations were developed after the NRC withdrew its preliminary
approval of an earlier plan because overwhelming public comment opposed
shortening some segments of the deer hunting seasons. DNR Division of Fish
and Wildlife staff biologists believe that the proposed multiple shorter
seasons in the original plan—some for antlerless deer only—would have
contributed to the goal of reducing deer numbers by placing greater emphasis
on hunting of antlerless deer.
“The new proposal has the same objective: to focus deer herd reduction in a
strategically-targeted manner to more adequately balance ecological,
recreational, and economic needs of the citizens of Indiana,” said Mark
Reiter, director of the DNR Division of Fish and Wildlife. “Our
responsibility is to manage wildlife for all Hoosiers. Some pointed to the
previous proposal as an effort to manage the herd for trophy animals or
increase license revenue. That was not the case.”
The new recommendations maintain the focus but leave the firearms and
muzzleloader seasons at their traditional 16-day lengths and drop a proposed
two-day October season.
“This new proposal was created by staff within the DNR, using historic data
gathered for deer management in Indiana, feedback from comments received
during the initial proposal, and data from surrounding states,” said Mitch
Marcus, wildlife section chief for the Division of Fish and Wildlife. “We
can’t emphasize enough that the goal is to reduce deer numbers in a
strategic manner; not everywhere, but certainly in areas of the state where
it’s needed to address the balance we’re trying to achieve.”
Three key points of the new recommendation are carryovers from the previous
•Adding a special antlerless-only firearms season from Dec. 26 through the
first Sunday in January of the following year in counties with a bonus
antlerless quota of four or more deer.
•Extending the urban zone season through Jan. 31 of the following year.
•Requiring hunters hunting in an urban zone during the urban zone season to
take at least one antlerless deer before taking an antlered deer.
New components include:
•Changing the current split archery season to a single season from Oct. 1
through the first Sunday in January.
•Allowing a crossbow to be used by any hunter during the archery season and
establishing a special crossbow license.
•Adding two new licenses (a crossbow license for use in the archery season,
and an urban zone license) and offering a license bundle at a reduced price
that would allow one antlered deer and two antlerless deer to be taken
during the special youth, archery, firearms, muzzleloader, and special
antlerless seasons combined.
The full text of the recommended rules package can be found in the January
meeting agenda on the NRC website www.in.gov/nrc/2350.htm Additional
information from the DNR is available on the Division of Fish and Wildlife
web pages at www.in.gov/dnr/fishwild/ (click on the “Rule/Regulation
Changes” link in the left column).
“The Division of Fish and Wildlife recognizes that modifying regulations is
only part of a larger effort that must be addressed,” said Gary Langell,
private lands program manager for the Division of Fish and Wildlife. “Simply
changing regulations will not achieve our objective. Although we continue to
depend on deer hunters to help us manage our deer herd, we also believe that
landowners will need to be more actively involved in providing hunter access
and encouraging more intensive antlerless harvest on their properties.
Likewise, urban communities will need to recognize the importance of
balanced, regulated deer management.”
If the NRC grants preliminary adoption at its Jan. 11 meeting, it would be
only the fifth step in a 34-step checklist that can take as much as a year
A vote for preliminary adoption would be followed by a public comment period
overseen by the NRC Division of Hearings. The recommended rule changes and a
convenient online comment link would be posted at www.in.gov/nrc/2377.htm
The NRC also would accept written comments mailed to Division of Hearings,
Indiana Government Center North, 100 North Senate Avenue, Room N501,
Indianapolis, IN, 46204-2200.
State law sets a minimum period for receiving public comments, and the
period may be extended by the NRC hearing officer assigned to the topic. The
hearing officer also presides over at least one public hearing and prepares
a report for the NRC to use in its consideration of final adoption of the
proposed rule changes.