License Requirements for Deer Hunting

To engage in deer hunting in Indiana, individuals must adhere to specific license requirements, unless exempt (refer to License Information). The following licenses are accepted for deer hunting on public or private land:

Accepted Licenses:

  1. Deer Hunting License: Allows for the harvest of one deer per license (except with the deer license bundle, comprehensive lifetime hunting license, and resident youth hunt/trap license).
  2. Resident Youth Hunt/Trap License: Available for eligible youth hunters.
  3. Lifetime Comprehensive Hunting License: Grants lifelong comprehensive hunting privileges.
  4. Lifetime Comprehensive Hunting/Fishing License: Provides lifelong comprehensive hunting and fishing privileges.

Seasonal Specifics:

Archery Season:

  • An archery, deer license bundle, bonus antlerless, resident youth hunt/trap, lifetime comprehensive hunting, or lifetime comprehensive hunting/fishing license is required.
  • To use a crossbow during archery season, individuals need a crossbow license, deer license bundle, bonus antlerless, resident youth hunt/trap, lifetime comprehensive hunting, or lifetime comprehensive hunting/fishing license.

Firearms Season:

  • A deer firearms, deer license bundle, bonus antlerless, resident youth hunt/trap, lifetime comprehensive hunting, or lifetime comprehensive hunting/fishing license is mandatory.
  • Note: A muzzleloader license is not valid during the deer firearms season. The firearms license allows the harvest of one antlered deer during this season.

Muzzleloader Season:

  • A muzzleloader, deer license bundle, bonus antlerless, resident youth hunt/trap, lifetime comprehensive hunting, or lifetime comprehensive hunting/fishing license is required.
  • Note: A firearms license is not valid during the deer muzzleloader season.

Ensure compliance with these license requirements, and consult the Deer Seasons, Licenses & Equipment tables for a comprehensive overview of deer seasons, licenses, bag limits, and equipment specifications. Stay informed and contribute to responsible and lawful deer hunting practices in Indiana.

Deer License Bundle

The deer license bundle provides a versatile and comprehensive approach to deer hunting in Indiana, offering validity across all deer seasons, excluding the reduction zone season. Here are the key details:

Validity and Seasons:

  • The bundle is valid for all deer seasons, providing a flexible option for hunters.
  • Excludes the reduction zone season from its coverage.

Harvest Limits:

  • Allows the harvest of up to three deer with only one license.
  • Breakdown: Two antlerless deer and one deer of either sex can be harvested.

Utilization and Quotas:

  • Antlerless deer harvested with the bundle contribute to the bag limit for bonus antlerless deer, archery, or muzzleloader.
  • When used for bonus antlerless deer county quota, the specific county quota regulations apply. Refer to Bonus Antlerless Deer for bonus county quotas.

Antlered Deer Harvest:

  • An antlered deer harvested with the deer license bundle counts toward the individual's one antlered deer limit for statewide seasons.

Seasonal Equipment Usage:

  • The bundle allows the use of legal equipment during archery, firearms, or muzzleloader seasons.
  • Legal equipment includes crossbows during the archery season.

Limitations on DNR Properties:

  • The bundle may not contribute to the bag limit for bonus antlerless deer on DNR properties where the bonus antlerless license cannot be used.
  • For details on specific DNR properties, contact the property (Public Hunting Areas) or visit hunting.IN.gov.

Stay informed and maximize the flexibility provided by the deer license bundle while ensuring compliance with regulations. Enjoy a streamlined and efficient hunting experience across various seasons in Indiana.

Legal Hunting Hours for Deer Seasons

Understanding and adhering to legal hunting hours is crucial for responsible and lawful deer hunting in Indiana. Here are the established legal hunting hours for all deer seasons:

  • Duration: Legal hunting hours extend from one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset.

By following these specified timeframes, hunters contribute to a safe and regulated hunting environment while respecting wildlife and fellow hunters. Always be aware of and adhere to these legal hunting hours to ensure a compliant and ethical hunting experience in Indiana.

Hunter Orange Requirements for Deer Seasons

Ensuring safety and visibility, hunters, including those using archery equipment, must adhere to hunter orange requirements during specific deer hunting seasons in Indiana:

Seasons with Hunter Orange Requirements:

  1. Firearms Season (Nov. 18-Dec. 3, 2023):

    • Hunter orange must be worn during this period.
  2. Muzzleloader Season (Dec. 9-24, 2023):

    • Hunter orange attire is mandatory for hunters during muzzleloader season.
  3. Deer Reduction Season (Nov. 18, 2023 - Jan. 31, 2024 in deer reduction zones):

    • Hunter orange must be worn throughout the designated reduction zones and corresponding timeframe.
  4. Youth Deer Season (Sept. 23-24, 2023):

    • Hunter orange is required during the entire youth deer season.

Ground Blind Requirements:

  • An occupied ground blind must display at least 144 square inches of visible hunter orange on each side.
  • This applies during any deer season where a hunter is already obligated to wear hunter orange.
  • Ground blinds constructed of man-made or synthetic materials and positioned on or within four feet of the ground must comply.
  • The hunter orange requirement extends to both public and private land.
  • Note: Placing a flag on top of a blind does not fulfill the hunter orange requirement.

For more detailed information, refer to the "General Information: Hunter Orange Requirements" section. Adhering to these regulations ensures enhanced safety and visibility for hunters during designated deer seasons in Indiana.

Infrared Sensors/Electronic Calls

The use of infrared sensors, drones, or electronic deer calls to locate or take deer is illegal. It is also illegal to hunt or to retrieve deer with the aid of an infrared sensor or to hunt deer while possessing an electronic deer call.

Antlered Deer Requirement

When hunting antlered deer in Indiana, hunters must observe the following requirement:

  • Antler Specification:
    • An antlered deer must have at least one antler that is a minimum of 3 inches long.

 

Tree Stand Regulations for Deer Hunting

Efficient and legal use of tree stands is essential for responsible deer hunting in Indiana. The following regulations apply:

General Use:

  • Permitted Usage: Tree stands are allowed for hunting deer during all deer hunting seasons.

  • Permanent Tree Blinds: Erecting or hunting from a permanent tree blind on state-owned or state-leased lands is illegal.

Land-Specific Guidelines:

  • State-Owned or State-Leased Lands:

    • Portable Tree Stands: Permissible for use.
    • Permanent Tree Blinds: Prohibited.
  • U.S. Forest Service Lands, Muscatatuck, Patoka River, and Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuges:

    • Portable Tree Stands: Allowed.

Overnight Placement:

  • Tree stands may be left overnight only during the period from noon on Sept. 15 through Jan. 10.

Fastener Limitations:

  • Fasteners penetrating a tree more than 1/2 inch are prohibited on the specified lands.

Marking Requirements:

  • A tree stand placed on public land must be legibly marked with the owner’s:
    • Name
    • Address
    • Telephone number, or DNR Customer Identification Number.

Fair Chase Regulations for Deer Hunting

To ensure fair chase and ethical practices in deer hunting, Indiana has established specific regulations:

Prohibited Practices:

  1. Use of Snares: It is illegal to use snares for deer hunting.

  2. Use of Salt and Bait: Using salt and bait to take deer is strictly prohibited.

    • Definition of Bait: Any product transported into a hunting area and placed for animal consumption.
    • Attractant Consideration: Bait includes salt, mineral blocks, prepared solid or liquid, apples, and other food.
    • Baited Area Duration: An area is considered baited for 10 days after the removal of the bait and any affected soil.
  3. Use of Dogs or Domesticated Animals: It is illegal to use dogs or other domesticated animals to take deer.

    • Exception: Dogs may be used while on a leash only to track or trail wounded deer.

Permitted Practices:

  • Artificial Deer Decoys: The use of artificial deer decoys is legal for deer hunting.

Deer Reduction Zones

In addition to statewide bag limits, deer reduction zones give hunters opportunities to harvest deer in areas with high deer densities.

The deer reduction zone season is Sept. 15, 2023 through Jan. 31, 2024. The bag limit for the reduction zones is 10 deer, of which only one can be antlered. Individuals hunting in a designated reduction zone who are attempting to satisfy the reduction zone bag limit must harvest an antlerless deer before harvesting an antlered deer (aka earn-a-buck). The earn-a-buck requirement only applies to the reduction zone bag limit. The reduction zone bag limit is in addition to all other bag limits (Deer Seasons, Licenses & Equipment).

Hunters attempting to satisfy the reduction zone bag limits must have a deer reduction zone, resident youth hunt/trap, lifetime comprehensive hunting, or lifetime comprehensive hunting/fishing license, or meet a license exemption. The license bundle is not valid when working toward the reduction zone bag limit. A valid license is required for each deer taken.

The season does not override any local ordinances restricting shooting of firearms and bows.

Where allowed by local ordinances, archery equipment legal for deer hunting can be used in reduction zones from Sept. 15, 2023 to Jan. 31, 2024.

Where allowed by local ordinances, firearms legal for deer hunting can be used in reduction zones from Nov. 18, 2023 to Jan. 31, 2024.

From Nov. 18, 2023 to Jan. 31, 2024, hunters must follow hunter orange clothing requirements to hunt deer with a firearm in a reduction zone. Hunters must obtain permission from landowners to hunt on private property.

Certain restrictions apply regarding deer reduction zone licenses on DNR-managed properties. Please contact the property you plan to hunt for more information.

Deer reduction zones may be altered annually at the DNR director’s discretion based on deer population management needs. Please visit deer.dnr.IN.gov to see a current map and zone descriptions.

Deer Reduction Zone CheckIN: Reporting Requirements

Ensuring accurate reporting is crucial for the effectiveness of Deer Reduction Zones, and hunters must adhere to specific check-in procedures. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) relies on these responses and corresponding harvest numbers to evaluate the success of these zones.

Reporting Process:

Hunters in counties with a deer reduction zone are required to report in CheckIN Game whether the deer was harvested within a deer reduction zone.

Bag Limit Considerations:

  1. Deer Harvested in Reduction Zones:
    • Hunters must report whether they want the deer to count toward the deer reduction zone bag limit.
  2. Second Buck or Antlerless Bag Limit:
    • For hunters utilizing reduction zones to harvest a second buck or fulfill the deer reduction zone antlerless bag limit, it's essential to ensure that their deer are counted toward the zone bag limit.
  3. Hunters Not Interested in Zone Bag Limit:
    • Hunters in the reduction zone area who are not interested in counting deer toward the zone bag limit or those not using a valid license in a deer reduction zone should select that the deer will not count toward the reduction zone bag limit.

Tagging Requirements for Harvested Deer

Upon killing a deer, hunters must promptly adhere to specific tagging procedures to comply with regulations. The following requirements must be fulfilled:

  1. Completion of Temporary Tag:

    • Immediately upon killing a deer, the hunter must complete a temporary tag on paper.
    • The tag must include the hunter’s:
      • Name
      • Address
      • Sex of the deer
      • License number (if applicable)
      • Day and month of the kill
  2. Tag Placement:

    • While dragging the deer out of the field, the hunter is not required to place the tag on the deer.
    • However, the completed temporary transportation tag, containing all required information, must be carried by the hunter.
    • The tag must be attached to the deer before the hunter leaves the deer.
  3. Custody and Visibility:

    • A hunter must maintain immediate custody of and visual contact with the deer carcass unless the completed temporary transportation tag is attached.

Reporting Requirements for Harvested Deer

To ensure accurate documentation of harvested deer and compliance with regulations, hunters must adhere to specific reporting procedures within 48 hours of the kill. The following are the reporting options:

  1. Online Registration:

    • Hunters can register their harvested deer online through the DNR’s CheckIN Game system at CheckINGame.dnr.IN.gov.
  2. Phone Registration:

    • Alternatively, hunters can call 800-419-1326 to register their deer. Note that a $3 fee applies for this service.
  3. In-Person Registration:

    • Hunters can find a check station or license retailer who will enter the information for them through CheckIN Game.

Confirmation Number and Tagging:

  • Once the deer is registered with the CheckIN Game system, a confirmation number will be generated.
  • This confirmation number must be recorded on a temporary transportation tag and kept with the deer until processing begins.

Deer Head Attachment:

  • The deer head must remain attached to the carcass until the deer is registered with CheckIN Game, and a confirmation number is issued.

Deer Equipment Chart

FIREARMS

Equipment Specifications Legal Season
Rifle Allowed on PUBLIC AND PRIVATE LAND:
Bullet diameter: .357” minimum
Casing length: 1.16–1.8”
Full metal jacketed bullets are illegal Youth, firearms, deer reduction zone
Rifle Allowed on PRIVATE LAND ONLY:
Bullet diameter: .243” (6 mm) minimum
Casing length: 1.16-3”
A hunter must not possess more than 10 of these cartridges while hunting deer
Full metal jacketed bullets are illegal Firearms, deer reduction zone
Handgun Barrel length: 4” minimum
Bullet diameter: .243” minimum
Case length: 1.16” minimum, except for 10 mm
10 mm also legal cartridges (i.e. 10 mm Auto and .40 S&W)
Rifles with barrel less than 18” are NOT considered handguns
.25-20 Winchester, .32-20 Winchester, .30 carbine, and .38 special ammunition are prohibited
NOT permitted for hunting on military areas Firearms, deer reduction zone
Shotgun Bore: 10, 12, 16, 20, or 28 gauge or .410”
Shooting slugs and saboted bullets only
Combination rifle-shotguns are allowed Youth, firearms, deer reduction zone

MUZZLELOADERS

Equipment Specifications Legal Season
Muzzleloading Rifle/Shotgun Barrel caliber: .44” minimum
Bullet diameter: .357” minimum
Powder and bullet loaded from muzzle and single bullet*
Saboted bullets permitted
Multiple barreled guns permitted
*Can have powder loaded from the breech end only during the youth and firearms seasons Youth, firearms, muzzleloader, deer reduction zone
Muzzeloading Handgun Barrel length: 12” minimum, measured from the base of the breech plug (excluding tangs and other projections to the end of the barrel, including the muzzle crown)
Barrel caliber: .50” minimum
Bullet diameter: .44” minimum
Loaded from muzzle and single shot Firearms, deer reduction zone

ARCHERY

Equipment Specifications Legal Season
Vertical Bow Long bows, compound bows, or recurve bows and arrows
Bows drawn, held, or released by means other than by hand or hand-held releases may be used
Arrows must have metal, metal-edged, napped flint, chert, or obsidian broadheads Archery, youth, deer reduction zone
Crossbow Defined as a device for propelling an arrow by means of limbs mounted on a stock and a string, and having a working safety that may be drawn or held
Draw weight: 125 lbs. minimum Archery, youth, deer reduction zone

SPECIAL

Equipment Specifications Legal Season
Air guns Using nonignited compressed air or other gas charged by external high compression power source
Projectiles: Must shoot .40 caliber or larger single bullet generating 400 ft. lbs. of muzzle energy; or an arrow or bolt with a sharpened metal or metal-edged broadhead at minimum of 300 fps at release Youth, firearms, deer reduction zone

 

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Disclaimer:

The legal advice provided on Wild Advisor Pro is intended as a summary of the hunting, camping, hiking, and fishing laws and regulations and does not constitute legal language or professional advice. We make every effort to ensure the information is accurate and up to date, but it should not be relied upon as legal authority. For the most current and comprehensive explanation of the laws and regulations, please consult the official government websites or a qualified legal professional. Wild Advisor Pro is not responsible for any misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the information presented and shall not be held liable for any losses, damages, or legal disputes arising from the use of this summary information. Always check with the appropriate governmental authorities for the latest information regarding outdoor regulations and compliance.