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What’s New in 2017

Hunting Regulations Icon Indiana Hunting

Changes to Legal Rifles for Hunting Deer

Additional Rifles Now Legal for Deer Hunting In 2016, the Indiana General Assembly passed a law to approve certain high-powered rifles for deer hunting on private land only. In 2017, language was adopted to add more options to the year-old law. The changes do not affect regulations for other rifles previously allowed for deer hunting on public land. During the youth season (Sept. 23-24), firearms season (Nov. 18 – Dec. 3), deer reduction zone season (only from Nov. 18, 2017 – Jan. 31, 2018 in zones where local ordinances allow the use of a firearm), and special antlerless only season (where authorized from Dec. 26, 2017 – Jan. 7, 2018), rifles that meet the following specifications can now be used for deer hunting only on private land:

  • The rifle must have a barrel length of at least 16 inches
  • The cartridge must have a minimum case length of at least 1.16 inches and have a maximum case length of 3 inches
  • The cartridge must fire a bullet with a diameter that is .243 inches (same as 6mm) or larger
  • A hunter may not possess more than 10 cartridges for each of these rifles while hunting deer
  • Full metal jacketed bullets cannot be used
  • These rifle options can be used only on private land

The General Assembly also modified requirements for retrieving wild animals that are killed or crippled. It requires a hunter or trapper to retrieve and take into possession a wild animal that has been killed or crippled, even if there is no bag limit for the animal, unless it is a nuisance wild animal taken with permission of the landowner or tenant (such as a coyote). If there is a bag limit for the animal, it must be included in the bag limit (Indiana Code 14-22-10-7).

Another new state law, effective July 1, requires children under age 18 to wear an approved helmet when riding any off-road vehicle (ORV) on public or private property in Indiana, including Interlake and Redbird state recreation areas.

House Enrolled Act 1200 requires owners of ORVs who allow children younger than age 18 to ride their ORV on public or private property without wearing an approved helmet can be charged with a Class C infraction, which carries a maximum penalty of $500.

“Approved helmets” are those that meet U.S. Department of Transportation standards. The new law doesn’t affect riders of snowmobiles, which do not fall under the legal definition of ORV per Indiana Code 14-8-2-185.

Key Definitions

Antlered deer: A deer with at least one antler that is at least 3 inches long.

Antlerless deer: Any deer other than an antlered deer.

Bag limit: The quantity of individual wild animals that may be taken in any one day of the specified season for that wild animal or during the entire season for that wild animal.

Bait: Food that is transported or placed for consumption, including but not limited to piles of corn and apples placed in the field; a prepared solid or liquid that is manufactured and intended for consumption by livestock or wild deer, such as commercial baits and food supplements; salt; or mineral supplements.

Furbearer: Beaver, coyote, gray fox, long-tailed weasel, mink, muskrat, opossum, raccoon, red fox, and striped skunk.

Game bird: Ring-necked pheasant, bobwhite quail, wild turkey, and mourning dove.

Hunt: To take any wild animal except by trapping.

Motor driven conveyance: An automobile, truck, tractor, combine, wagon, bus, off-road vehicle, ATV, recreational vehicle, motorcycle, moped, dune buggy, go-cart, motorboat, airplane, or any other motorized vehicle capable of transporting an individual.

Possession limit: The possession limit is two times the daily bag limit of a wild animal. The possession limit does not apply to a wild animal that is processed and stored at an individual’s primary residence, except for waterfowl and migratory birds.

Take: To kill, shoot, spear, gig, catch, trap, harm, harass, or pursue a wild animal, or to attempt to engage in such conduct