The Indiana Natural Resources Commission gave preliminary approval this week
to a comprehensive package of proposed changes to deer-hunting rules in
The DNR Division of Fish and Wildlife developed the rules proposal to focus
deer-herd reduction in a strategically targeted manner to more adequately
balance the ecological, recreational and economic needs of the state’s
Key points of the proposal include:
–Changing the deer firearms season to nine days beginning the Saturday
–Adding a two-day antlerless-only firearms season in October in designated
–Adding a statewide antlerless-only firearms season from Dec. 25 to Jan. 1
–Shortening the muzzleloader season to nine days
–Extending the urban zone season through Jan. 31
–Expanding the use of crossbows
–Requiring hunters to take at least one antlerless deer prior to taking an
antlered deer in an urban deer zone
“For the last several years, Indiana deer management and associated deer
rules were designed to stabilize or slightly grow the deer herd,” said Mitch
Marcus, wildlife section chief for the DNR Division of Fish and Wildlife.
“We are now experiencing record-setting harvests, record numbers of deer
damage complaints, constituent complaints to legislators, and record numbers
of deer-vehicle collisions. The intent of this deer rule proposal is to move
Indiana toward a focused, strategically targeted deer-herd reduction.”
Hunters have harvested more than 100,000 deer in the state in 15 of the last
17 years, topping 125,000 in four of the last five years, including a record
132,752 in 2009.
Further changes would add a new nonresident youth deer license, add license
requirements for the new special antlerless seasons, add requirements to the
use of ground blinds, allow a rifle cartridge to have a maximum case length
of 1.8 inches instead of l.625 inches, and require youth hunters to wear
hunter orange during the youth special season.
A complete summary of the proposed changes is at
The NRC’s preliminary approval moves the proposed changes into the public
input phase of the rules-making process. Comments on the proposal can be
submitted online at www.IN.gov/nrc; by mail to Division of Hearings, Indiana
Government Center North, 100 North Senate Ave., Indianapolis, IN, 46204; or
at public hearings. Dates and locations for a minimum two hearings will be
announced at a later date.
After the public input process is complete, the NRC will consider final
adoption of the rule package.
If adopted, the new rules would take effect in 2011 and would be evaluated
over a five-year period to determine if the intended result of reducing the
deer herd is being achieved. Success will be measured through maintaining an
annual deer harvest sex ratio of 60/40 (females/males), landowner and
deer-hunter survey responses, reduction in county antlerless quotas, and
reduction in deer-vehicle accident rates.
The proposed changes to deer-hunting rules are a result of the NRC Advisory
Council’s Comprehensive Fish and Wildlife Rules Enhancement Project and a
DNR review of Indiana deer management. The NRAC project drew more than 1,000
suggestions from the public, and the DNR review included discussions with
representatives from several stakeholder groups—Indiana Sportsman’s
Roundtable, Indiana Wildlife Federation, Indiana Deer Hunters Association,
Indiana Bowhunters Association, Quality Deer Management Association, The
Nature Conservancy, Indiana Farm Bureau, Bloomington City Council, Indiana
Forestry and Woodland Owners Association, and a sporting goods retailer.
Leaders or representatives of the Roundtable, IWF, IDHA, IBA, QDMA, The
Nature Conservancy and Indiana Farm Bureau spoke in support of the proposed
rule changes at Tuesday’s NRC meeting.
“We are pleased
with the amount of public input given [by] stakeholder groups,” Marcus said.
“We look forward to additional public input as part of the rule-making