Unless exempt (see License Information), an individual must have a signed or digital deer hunting, resident youth hunt/trap, lifetime comprehensive hunting, or lifetime comprehensive hunting/fishing license when hunting deer on public or private land. Except with the deer license bundle, comprehensive lifetime hunting license, and resident youth hunt/trap license, only one deer can be taken per deer hunting license. See the table on Deer Seasons, Licenses & Equipment for a summary of deer seasons, licenses, bag limits, and equipment requirements.
- 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 the archery season, an individual must have 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 required. (Note: a muzzleloader license is not valid during the deer firearms season). A deer firearms license is only valid for the harvest of one antlered deer during the firearms 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).
Deer License Bundle
The deer license bundle is valid for all deer seasons except for the Reduction Zone Season.
The deer license bundle allows an individual to harvest up to three deer (two antlerless and one of either sex) with only one license. An antlered deer harvested with the deer license bundle counts toward an individual’s one antlered deer limit for statewide seasons.
The bundle can be used to take a deer with equipment legal during the archery (this includes crossbows), firearm, and muzzleloader seasons, and in counties open to the special antlerless only season.
Antlerless deer harvested with the deer license bundle must be used toward the bag limit for bonus antlerless deer, archery, muzzleloader, and special antlerless firearms bag limits. When used toward the bonus antlerless deer county quota, the county quota applies. See Bonus Antlerless Deer for bonus county quotas.
The bundle may not be used toward the bag limit for bonus antlerless deer on DNR properties where the bonus antlerless license cannot be used. Contact the property (Public Hunting Areas) or go to hunting.IN.gov for details.
Legal Hunting Hours
Legal hunting hours for all deer seasons are from one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset.
Hunter Orange Requirements
Hunters, including those using archery equipment, must meet hunter orange requirements while hunting for deer during the following seasons: firearms (Nov. 14-Nov. 29, 2020), muzzleloader (Dec. 5-20, 2020), deer reduction (Nov. 14, 2020-Jan. 31, 2021 in deer reduction zones), and special antlerless firearms (Dec. 26, 2020-Jan. 3, 2021 in open counties).
Hunter orange must be worn during the special youth deer season (Sept. 26-27, 2020). See General Information for more information.
An occupied ground blind must have at least 144 square inches of hunter orange that is visible on each side of the blind while deer hunting during any deer season in which a hunter is already required to wear hunter orange. Hunter orange is required on ground blinds constructed of man-made or synthetic materials and placed on or within four feet of the ground. The hunter orange is required on public and private land. A flag placed on top of a blind does not satisfy this hunter orange requirement.
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 three 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 Muscatatuck, Patoka River, and Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuges. Tree stands may be left overnight only from noon Sept. 15 through Jan. 10.
Fasteners that penetrate a tree more than 1/2 inch are 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, or DNR Customer Identification 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.
In addition to statewide bag limits, deer reduction zones, previously called urban deer zones, give hunters opportunities to harvest deer in defined urban areas with high deer densities.
The Deer Reduction Zone season is Sept. 15, 2020 through Jan. 31, 2021. 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).
A Deer Reduction Zone license has been established to replace previous requirements to possess a regular archery, extra archery, or bonus antlerless license. The Deer Reduction Zone license allows an individual to harvest one deer per license in a defined reduction zone.
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 bundle license 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, firearms legal for deer hunting can be used in reduction zones from Nov. 14, 2020 to Jan. 31, 2021.
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
Hunters should ensure deer harvested within a Deer Reduction Zone are checked in correctly. DNR uses these responses and corresponding harvest numbers to determine the effectiveness of these zones. In counties with a Deer Reduction Zone, hunters are required to report in CheckIN Game whether the deer was harvested in a Deer Reduction Zone. If so, hunters are then required to report whether they want that deer to count toward the Deer Reduction Zone bag limit. Hunters using reduction zones to harvest a second buck or to fulfill the Deer Reduction Zone antlerless bag limit should ensure that their deer are counted toward the zone bag limit. Hunters who hunt in an area inside the Deer Reduction Zone but are not interested in counting deer toward the zone bag limit or who are not using a license valid in a Deer Reduction Zone should select that the deer will not count toward the reduction zone bag limit.
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, license number (if applicable) of the individual who took 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.
Hunters are required to register their harvested deer within 48 hours of the kill. This can be done one of three ways:
- Online through the DNR’s CheckIN Game system (CheckINGame.dnr.IN.gov)
- Calling 800-419-1326 (a $3 fee applies)
- Find a check station or license retailer who will enter the information for you through CheckIN Game
Once the deer is registered with the CheckIN Game system, a confirmation number will be generated. The number must be recorded on a temporary transportation tag and kept with the deer until processing begins.
The deer head must remain attached to the carcass until the deer is registered with CheckIN Game and a confirmation number is issued.
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, youth, reduction zone (in zones where local ordinances allow the use of a firearm), and special antlerless seasons only.
Shotguns must be 10-, 12-, 16-, 20- or 28-gauge or .410 bore loaded with slugs or saboted bullets. Rifled slug barrels are permitted. Combination rifle-shotguns are allowed.
Rifles chambered for 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, youth, reduction zones from Nov. 14-Jan. 31 (in zones where local ordinances allow the use of a firearm), and special antlerless seasons. These rifle cartridges can be used on public and private land.
Some cartridges legal for deer hunting include the .357 Magnum, .350 Legend, .358 Hoosier, .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. Full metal jacketed bullets are illegal.
Additional rifles can be used for deer hunting on private land only. During the firearms, reduction zone from Nov. 14, 2020 – Jan. 31, 2021 (in zones where local ordinances allow the use of firearms), youth season, and special antlerless season (where open), rifles that fire cartridges meeting the following requirements may be used to hunt deer on private land only.
The cartridge must have a minimum case length of 1.16 inches and a maximum case length of 3 inches.
The cartridge must fire a bullet with a minimum diameter of .243 inches (same as 6 mm).
A hunter must not possess more than 10 of these cartridges while hunting deer.
Full metal jacketed bullets are illegal.
During the following seasons, legal handguns can be used to hunt deer: firearms, reduction zone from Nov. 14, 2020 – Jan. 31, 2021 (in zones where local ordinances allow the use of a firearm), and special antlerless.
Handguns, other than muzzleloading handguns, 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. There is no maximum cartridge length for those used in handguns. Full metal-jacketed bullets are not permitted. The handgun must not be a rifle that has a barrel less than 18 inches. A rifle with a barrel less than 18 inches is not considered a handgun.
Handguns are not permitted for hunting 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.
State law also legalizes a handgun that fires the 10mm Auto and .40 Smith & Wesson cartridge.
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.
Legal muzzleloaders can be used to hunt deer during the firearms, youth, reduction zone (in zones where local ordinances allow the use of a firearm), muzzleloader, and special antlerless seasons. Only muzzleloading firearms (including muzzleloading handguns) are legal during the muzzleloader season.
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.
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).
While hunting, an individual may carry a handgun without a handgun license in accordance with Indiana Code 35-47-2-1 found at iga.IN.gov
Deer can be taken with a handgun only when in compliance with DNR regulations and only during the firearms and special antlerless seasons, with muzzleloading handguns only in the muzzleloader seasons, and in deer reduction zones when and where local ordinances allow.
Legal Archery Equipment
Legal equipment includes long bows, compound bows, or recurve bows and arrows. Airbows do not meet the definition of legal archery equipment.
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 be used.
Crossbows are legal hunting equipment during the archery deer season and in Deer Reduction Zones.
A crossbow is 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, and a pull of at least 125 pounds.
Disposing of Carcasses
Carcasses of deer and other wild animals that are lawfully taken cannot be dumped in streams or other bodies of water. Rotting carcasses in a waterway can affect water quality downstream. Dumping dead deer and other wild animals in a waterway is considered littering and is a criminal offense punishable by a fine.
Carcasses should not be burned, as the act can cause air pollution. Carcasses cannot be left in the open for scavengers or people to see without permission from the landowner. Do not dump carcasses on public land. We recommend all discarded carcasses and unwanted animal parts be bagged and sent to a landfill.
If you have questions about deer hunting regulations, email INDeerHotline@dnr.IN.gov or call 812-334-3795, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday. This is not a toll-free call. Visit hunting.IN.gov for Deer Hunting FAQs.