To hunt deer in Indiana, an individual must have a signed deer hunting, resident youth hunt/trap, lifetime comprehensive hunting, lifetime comprehensive hunting/fishing, or meet a license exemption. See the summary of deer seasons, licenses and equipment requirements.
Legal Hunting Hours
Legal hunting hours for all deer seasons are from one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset
Hunters, including those using archery equipment, must meet hunter orange requirements while hunting for deer during firearms (Nov. 17 – Dec. 2, 2012), muzzleloader (Dec. 8 – 23, 2012) and special antlerless firearm (Dec. 26, 2012 – Jan. 6, 2013).
Hunter orange must be worn during the special youth deer season (Sept. 29 and 30, 2012).
* See the description of hunter orange requirements.
Party hunting is illegal. In a party hunting arrangement, a hunter not only shoots to fill his/her license but also shoots additional deer to fill the licenses of other hunting party members.
It is illegal to shine a spotlight, searchlight or other artificial light for the purpose of taking, attempting to take or assisting another person to take a deer, or to shine such a light while in possession of a firearm, bow or crossbow.
It also is illegal for a person to deliberately cast a spotlight or other artificial light from a motor vehicle if in possession of a firearm, bow and arrow or crossbow.
Infrared Sensors/Electronic Calls
The use of infrared sensors 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.
An antlered deer must have at least one antler that is at least 3 inches long.
Tree stands may be used for hunting deer during all deer hunting seasons. It is illegal to erect or hunt from a permanent tree blind on state-owned or state-leased lands. Portable tree stands may be used on state-owned or state-leased lands, U.S. Forest Service lands and lands of the Muscatatuck, Patoka River and Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuges and may be left overnight only between Sept. 1 and Jan. 10. Exception: At Kingsbury FWA, no stands may be placed until noon, Sept. 1.
A fastener used in conjunction with a tree stand and a tree or pole climber that penetrates a tree more than ½ inch is prohibited on these lands.
A tree stand placed on public land must be legibly marked in English with the owner’s name, address and telephone number.
It is illegal to use bait, salt, snares, dogs or other domesticated animals to take deer. Bait is considered any product that is transported into a hunting area and placed there for animal consumption. Baits can be in the form of salt, mineral blocks, prepared solid or liquid, or piles of apples or other food that is intended for the animal to eat. An area is considered to be baited for 10 days after the removal of the bait and any affected soil.
Dogs may be used while on a leash only to track or trail wounded deer.
Artificial deer decoys are legal for deer hunting.
Urban deer zones give archery hunters opportunities to harvest deer in defined urban deer zones, in addition to statewide bag limits.
The urban deer zone season is Sept. 15, 2012 through Jan. 31, 2013. The bag limit for the urban zones is four antlerless deer, or three antlerless and one deer of either sex within an urban zone. Individuals hunting in a designated urban deer zone who are attempting to satisfy the urban deer zone bag limit, must harvest an antlerless deer before harvesting an antlered deer (a.k.a. earn-a-buck). The earn-a-buck requirement only applies to the urban deer zone bag limit. The urban deer zone bag limit is in addition to all other bag limits. (See deer bag limits)
The provision does not override any local ordinances restricting shooting of firearms and bows. Hunters must obtain permission from landowners to hunt on their property. (Download the private land permission form.) An urban deer zone license is needed for each deer taken. Urban deer zone licenses are already included in the resident youth hunt/trap, lifetime comprehensive hunting, and lifetime comprehensive hunting/fishing licenses.
The urban deer zones are as follows:
Youth deer hunting season is Sept. 29 and 30, 2012. Youth age 17 or younger on the date of the hunt, and accompanied by an adult of at least 18 years of age, can take the number of antlerless deer allowed by the bonus county quota for the county in which they are hunting. The youth may also take an antlered deer, but an antlerled deer harvested during the youth deer season counts towards the statewide bag limit of one antlered deer.
The youth hunter and accompanying adult must possess a valid license to hunt deer (see above) while in the field, unless exempt from needing a license.
The youth hunter must comply with all deer hunting regulations, including tagging the deer and checking it in to a deer check station or online with the CheckIN Game system within 48 hours of the take. The youth hunter and accompanying adult must wear hunter orange.
The youth hunter may use a legal firearm, bow and arrow, or crossbow to take the deer.
The accompanying adult cannot take a deer and may not possess a firearm, muzzleloader, bow and arrow or crossbow while in the field with the youth hunter.
Immediately upon killing a deer, the hunter must complete a temporary tag on paper that states the hunter’s name, address, sex of the deer, and the day and month of the kill. A hunter is not required to place the tag on the deer while dragging it out of the field as long as the hunter has filled out and is carrying the required information. A hunter must maintain immediate custody of and visual contact with the deer carcass unless the completed temporary transportation tag is attached. The tag must be attached to the deer before the hunter leaves the deer or loads the deer in a vehicle.
The person who takes the deer is responsible for the delivery of the deer to an official deer check station within 48 hours of the kill, or use the CheckIN Game online system to obtain a confirmation number within 48 hours of the kill. The CheckIN Game confirmation number must be written down on the temporary transportation tag. See the complete listing of check stations.
The deer head must remain attached to the carcass until the tag is attached and locked at the deer check station. If the deer is taken to a check station, a permanent seal must be attached to the carcass. The permanent seal must remain attached until processing of the deer begins.
Disposition of Carcasses
Carcasses of deer and other wild animals that are lawfully taken should not be dumped in streams or other bodies of water or left out in the open for scavengers and others to see. Dumping dead deer and other wild animals in a waterway is considered littering and is a criminal offense punishable by a fine. Rotting carcasses in a waterway can also affect water quality for those downstream.
Shotguns, handguns, rifles with legal cartridges, muzzleloading long guns and muzzleloading handguns are legal during the firearms and special antlerless seasons. Only muzzleloading firearms are legal during the muzzleloader season.
Hunters may carry more than one type of legal firearm when hunting during the firearms and special antlerless seasons only. Shotguns must be 10-, 12-, 16- or 20-gauge or .410 bore loaded with slugs or saboted bullets. Rifled slug barrels are permitted. Combination rifle-shotguns are not allowed.
Muzzleloading firearms must be .44 caliber or larger, loaded with a single bullet of at least .357 caliber. Saboted bullets are allowed, provided the bullet is .357 caliber or larger. A muzzleloading firearm must be capable of being loaded from only the muzzle. Multiple-barrel muzzleloading long guns are allowed.
Rifles with cartridges that fire a bullet of .357-inch diameter or larger; have a minimum case length of 1.16 inches; and have a maximum case length of 1.8 inches are legal to use only during the deer firearms and special antlerless seasons. Some cartridges legal for deer hunting include the .357 Magnum, .38-.40 Winchester, .41 Magnum, .41 Special, .44 Magnum, .44 Special, .44-.40 Winchester, .45 Colt, .454 Casull, .458 SOCOM, .475 Linebaugh, .480 Ruger, .50 Action Express, .500 S&W, .460 Smith & Wesson, .450 Bushmaster, and .50 Beowulf.
Handguns, other than muzzleloading, must have a barrel at least 4 inches long and must fire a bullet of .243-inch diameter or larger. The handgun cartridge case, without the bullet, must be at least 1.16 inches long. Full metal-jacketed bullets are not permitted.
Handguns are not permitted on any military areas.
Some handgun cartridges that are legal for deer hunting include .357 Magnum, .41 Magnum, .44 Magnum, .44 Special, .45 Colt, .45 Long Colt, .45 Winchester Magnum, .35 Remington and .357 Herrett.
Some handgun cartridges that are illegal for deer hunting are .38 Special, .38 Smith and Wesson, .38 Colt New Police, .38/200,
.38 Long Colt, .38 Super, .38 ACP, .38 Colt Auto, .45 ACP, .45 Automatic and .45 Auto Rim. All .25/.20, .32/.20 and .30 carbine ammunition is prohibited.
Muzzleloading handguns are allowed. The muzzleloading handgun must be single shot, .50 caliber or larger, loaded with bullets at least .44 caliber and have a barrel at least 12 inches long, measured from the base of the breech plug excluding tangs and other projections to the end of the barrel, including the muzzle crown.
An individual may carry a handgun while
hunting without a license to carry a handgun in accordance with Indiana Code 35-47-2-1 at IN.gov/legislative. It is not legal to take a deer with a handgun except during the firearms, special antlerless, and muzzleloader seasons and in compliance with DNR regulations.
Legal equipment includes long bows, compound bows or recurve bows and arrows.
The bow must have a pull of at least 35 pounds.
Arrows must be tipped with broadheads that are metal, metal-edged, or napped flint, chert or obsidian. Poisoned or exploding arrows are illegal.
Bows drawn, held or released by means other than by hand or hand-held releases may not be used. No portion of the bow’s riser or any track, trough, channel, arrow rest or other device that attaches to the bow’s riser can guide the arrow from a point back beyond the bow’s brace height.
The common overdraw is still allowed as long as it does not extend beyond the string when the bow is relaxed.
A crossbow means a device for propelling an arrow by means of traverse limbs mounted on a stock and a string and having a working safety that may be drawn, held, and released by a mechanical device. It has to have a mechanical safety and at least 125 lbs pull.
If you have questions about deer hunting regulations, call (812) 334-3795, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. This is not a toll-free call.
Regulations in red are new this year.
Purple text indicates an important note.