State Park Hunts
Reduction Hunts Aid State Park Ecology
Deer reduction hunts at State Parks are different than most DNR-managed special hunts. Reduction hunts are carried out exclusively to achieve an ecological objective – to ensure balanced and healthy natural communities for all flora and fauna within park boundaries.
While most other special hunts are offered for recreation, deer reduction hunts in State Parks are a necessary management tool designed to reduce ecological damage caused by deer over browsing.
Trophy hunting, or passing on does or smaller bucks to wait for a larger buck, is counter to the ecological objective of State Park reduction hunts and is strongly discouraged.
DNR biologists initially determine the need for a reduction at individual parks based on scientific monitoring of vegetation. Once a park begins reduction hunts, its harvest data are analyzed for decisions regarding habitat recovery and whether specific parks require a reduction hunt the following year.
Research indicates that vegetation and habitat begin to recover from over browsing once a rate of firearm harvest per effort (H/E) lowers to 0.22 to 0.20. The H/E index is determined by the number of hunters participating and the number of deer that are harvested. At State Parks where reduction hunts are limited to archery equipment only, the H/E target is 0.1 to 0.08. A park typically takes the following year off from hosting a reduction once these harvest rates are achieved in a given year.
The first reduction hunt was scheduled for one day in 1993 at Brown County State Park.
Since 1995, most of Indiana’s 24 State Park properties have had one or more reduction hunts.
In 2016, 18 locations will have reduction hunts on Nov. 14-15 and Nov. 28-29. They are Brown County, Chain O’Lakes, Charlestown, Clifty Falls, Fort Harrison, Indiana Dunes, McCormick’s Creek, Ouabache, Pokagon, Prophetstown, Shakamak, Spring Mill and Cave River Valley Natural Area (drawn and managed together), Summit Lake, Tippecanoe River, Turkey Run, Versailles, and Whitewater Memorial state parks.
Clifty Falls and Fort Harrison will be archery only reduction hunts.
Volunteers can apply online at wildlife.IN.gov/5834.htm. Successful applicants are allowed to take up to three deer. Only one can be antlered. Deer harvested at a State Park reduction hunt are not counted toward regular statewide bag limits.