The Porter County
Park Board gave its preliminary approval Thursday to implementing deer
hunting at three of its properties.
The board voted
unanimously 6-0 to “move forward” on a request by Valparaiso resident and
hunting enthusiast Bryan McFadden to allow bow-and-arrow hunting for deer in
isolated sections of Brincka-Cross Gardens, Brookdale Park and the former
Department of Corrections farm in Pine Twp., with a caveat that McFadden
provide a more specific report on how safety will be handled and when and
where the hunts will be.
McFadden, who is
the president of the an organization titled Quality Deer Management
Association, first approached the board in October advocating the
opportunities to educate younger hunters and to manage the burgeoning
population of deer in the parks. He also said that the meat harvested from
the slaughtered deer would go to food pantries around the state to feed the
“It’s something I
want to get started in our community,” he said.
The board then gave
McFadden the chance to work with Parks Superintendent Walter Lenckos to gain
a sense of how many deer are in the parks by setting up cameras at different
locations. The Department of Natural Resources, on its website, has named
Porter County as an urban deer zone.
his cameras over periods of two to three weeks spotted 67 does/16 bucks at
the DOC property, 87 does/17 bucks at Brincka-Cross Gardens, 36 does/29
bucks at Brookdale and 13 does/6 bucks near the campground area at Sunset
The photos all
showed deer that McFadden said appeared healthy and well-fed, indicating the
parks are an ideal place for deer to thrive.
“All these areas
provide a great location of cover, sources of water, and there’s always
plenty of food,” he said.
Represented at the
meeting were several groups wanting to be involved in the initiative that
McFadden said “can provide a lot of opportunity to the people of Porter
Ian Munnoch, a
coordinator with Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry, said over 100,000
meals were provided from harvested deer that were donated last year in
Indiana through FHFH.
Sweeney, president of the Porter County Chapter of the Izaak Walton League,
said that his organization was “impressed” with McFadden’s presentation and
support his plan to manage the deer population.
Stephen Spencer, a
regional leader of the National Bowhunters Education Foundation said the
organization would participate in holding classes on how to properly perform
hunting with bows. Persons who complete the courses are eligible to receive
a certification from the NBEF.
“It will instill a
sense of responsibility for the environment and carrying on the
responsibility into the field,” Spencer said.
educational components, McFadden said the program will teach fledgling
hunters about field dressing/butchering, hide tanning, taxidermy, trapping,
habitat and natural plant education.
To implement the
deer hunting program at the parks, McFadden recommended taking the next
steps of posting signs for an agritourism clause which lowers the liability
for landowners, setting up deer stands in the desired locations, and
Park Board member
Craig Kenworthy asked what the parks department can do to reduce its
liability if someone injured themselves on equipment or if someone was
struck by an arrow. “How do we mitigate that exposure?” he asked.
suggested background checks on hunters, saying he’s “not comfortable” with
having someone with a criminal history having weapons on park property.
Spencer said that
if a person has been convicted of a violent crime, they are “not supposed to
hunters will be required to have their bowhunting certificate from the NBEF
and anyone who sits through a nine-hour class is evidently taking hunting
One audience member
said the parks could set days where the parks would be open only to hunters.
Rico Semento, a
member of the Quality Deer Management Association, said Indiana Dunes State
Park closes for a few days in the fall to allow for deer reduction hunts. It
is likely that “poachers” are already hunting on county park property, he
Board member David
Canright said “No Trespassing” or “No Access” signs could be posted in the
areas where hunters would be, closing them off from public visitors. It
would not be too much of a hindrance, he said, because Brookdale and the DOC
property are not open to the public, and the hunting area at Brincka-Cross
would be situated in the additional acreage that is not yet open to
Board member Tom
Schnabel told McFadden he “loves the outline” of the proposal but feels
there are “still a lot of steps before moving forward.”
The board asked
that McFadden bring them a formal report on what the rules, dates and plans
for signs will be before giving their full support. Kenworthy made the
motion to accept the concept of the plan.