The archery season is now continuous, from Oct. 1 through the first Sunday in January (Figure 1).
Special Antlerless Deer Season
A special firearms season for antlerless deer has been added from Dec. 26 through the first Sunday in January. The extra season occurs only in counties with a bonus antlerless county quota of four or more. To participate, hunters need a bonus antlerless license, deer license bundle, lifetime comprehensive hunting, lifetime comprehensive hunting/fishing, resident youth hunt/trap license, or meet license exemptions. Deer harvested in this season count toward the bonus antlerless county quota bag limit.
Urban deer zones afford archery hunters opportunities to harvest deer in defined urban deer zones, in addition to statewide bag limits.
There are four changes this year – extension of the urban deer zone season dates, a new urban deer zone license, an “earn-a-buck” requirement, and the expansion of the urban zones in Lake and Porter counties.
Deer license bundle
The deer license bundle is an option some hunters may find beneficial, especially individuals who purchase annual deer licenses for multiple seasons (i.e. equipment types). This license bundle includes privileges to harvest two antlerless deer and one antlered deer.
The deer license bundle can be used during the following seasons: archery, firearms, muzzleloader, and special antlerless. In addition, nonresident youth can use the nonresident youth deer license bundle during the special youth deer season. The deer license bundle cannot be used for hunting deer in an urban deer zone to satisfy urban deer zone bag limits. The resident deer license bundle is $65, the nonresident deer license bundle is $295, and the nonresident youth deer license bundle is $65.
The maximum rifle cartridge case length is extended to 1.8 inches, making the .460 Smith & Wesson, .450 Bushmaster, and .50 Beowulf legal to use during the deer firearms season.
Crossbows can now be used during the entire archery season, from Oct. 1 and continuing through the first Sunday in January. Crossbows can also be used during the urban deer zone season from Sept. 15 through Jan. 31.
A deer crossbow license is required to hunt with a crossbow during the archery season, unless that individual has a valid resident youth hunt/trap, bonus antlerless, deer license bundle, lifetime comprehensive hunting, or lifetime comprehensive hunting/fishing license, or is exempt from needing a license.
A deer crossbow license is good for either one antlerless deer or one antlered deer. The bag limit for the archery season is two antlerless deer, or one antlered deer and one antlerless deer. Hunters are allowed to harvest only one deer per crossbow license.
Fluorescent (Hunter) Orange Requirements
An occupied ground blind must display hunter orange of at least 144 square inches on each side so that it is visible from any direction while deer hunting during any deer season in which a hunter is already required to wear hunter orange.
Hunter orange is required only on ground blinds made of manmade or synthetic materials on or within 4 feet of the ground that conceal a hunter so that the hunter orange is not visible from one or more directions and is required on public and private land.
A flag placed on top of a blind does not satisfy this hunter orange requirement.
Youth hunters must wear hunter orange during the special youth deer season, and all deer hunters must wear hunter orange during the new special antlerless deer firearms season. Hunter orange already is required for all deer hunters during the firearms and muzzleloader seasons.
Youth Deer Season
Youth hunters may now take the number of antlerless deer during the special youth deer season that is allowed by the bonus antlerless county quota. Youth hunters may still take an antlered deer during this season (in addition to one or more antlerless deer) but an antlered deer harvested during the special youth deer season counts toward their statewide bag limit of one antlered deer.
Military Reserves and National Wildlife Refuges
Military Reserves and National Wildlife Refuges can now schedule firearms deer hunts starting Oct. 1 and continuing until Dec. 31.
Instead of having military/refuge deer licenses that were equipment specific (e.g., military/refuge deer firearms), there is now just one “military/refuge deer license” that can be used with the equipment type that is allowed during a specific military/refuge deer hunt.
A deer harvested with a military/refuge license does not count toward an individual’s statewide deer bag limit.
An individual may use an archery, firearms, or muzzleloader deer license on a military/refuge area, but must follow season dates and bag limits that apply to those licenses. For example, if a hunter uses a deer firearms license on a military/refuge area, the individual can only take an antlered deer during a military/refuge hunt that coincides with the regular deer firearms season. If a person chooses to use a deer firearms license on a military/refuge hunt, the harvested deer would count toward the hunter’s statewide deer bag limit.
The military/refuge deer license privilege is included in the following license types: resident youth hunt/trap, lifetime comprehensive hunting, and lifetime comprehensive hunting/fishing license.
In addition to the traditional check stations, hunters now have the opportunity to check in turkey and deer using the free CheckIN Game online system at checkINgame.dnr.in.gov. Hunters will need their unique CustomerID (CID) number. Annual license buyers, your CID number is in the upper left-hand corner of your license. Lifetime License Holders, you can look up your CID number using the search link on the CheckIN Game online system. Those exempt from needing a license to hunt in Indiana (see license exemptions) can check the box online and fill in the required information and a CID will be assigned to you. You may use the CID and your date-of-birth to check in all future deer and turkey.
You will be given a confirmation number upon successful receipt of your harvest information. You must record your confirmation number on your temporary transportation tag. See Deer Regulations and Turkey Regulations for tagging information.
Regulations in red are new this year.
Purple text indicates an important note.