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Indiana

Hunting

Deer Regulations

License Requirements

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 tables 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), firearms, or muzzleloader seasons.

Antlerless deer harvested with the deer license bundle must be used toward the bag limit for bonus antlerless deer, archery, or muzzleloader. 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. 13-28, 2021), muzzleloader (Dec. 4-19, 2021), and deer reduction (Nov. 13, 2021-Jan. 31, 2022 in deer reduction zones).

Hunter orange must be worn during the youth deer season (Sept. 25-26, 2021). 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.

Antlered Deer

An antlered deer must have at least one antler that is at least three inches long.

Tree Stands

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 with the owner’s name, address, and telephone number, or DNR Customer Identification Number.

Fair Chase

It is illegal to use snares, salt, and bait to take deer. Bait is considered any product that is transported into a hunting area and placed there for animal consumption. Bait is considered an attractant that is intended to lure an animal and can be in the form of salt, mineral blocks, prepared solid or liquid, apples, and other food. An area is considered to be baited for 10 days after the removal of the bait and any affected soil.

It is illegal to use dogs or other domesticated animals to take deer. Dogs may be used while on a leash only to track or trail wounded deer.

Artificial deer decoys are legal for deer hunting.

Deer Reduction Zones

In addition to statewide bag limits, deer reduction zones give hunters opportunities to harvest deer in areas with high deer densities.

The deer reduction zone season is Sept. 15, 2021 through Jan. 31, 2022. 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).

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. 13, 2021 to Jan. 31, 2022.

From Nov. 13, 2021 to Jan. 31, 2022, 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.

Tagging Requirements

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.

Reporting Requirements

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)
  • Call 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.

Hunting Equipment

Legal Firearms

Shotguns, handguns, rifles with legal cartridges, muzzleloading long guns, and muzzleloading handguns are legal during the firearms season. 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, and reduction zone (in zones where local ordinances allow the use of a firearm) seasons only.

Carrying Handguns

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 season, with muzzleloading handguns only in the muzzleloader seasons, and in deer reduction zones when and where local ordinances allow.

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. The DNR recommends all discarded carcasses and unwanted animal parts be bagged and sent to a landfill.

Special Antlerless Firearms Season Closed for 2021-2022

In 2012, a Special Antlerless Firearms season was implemented for the first time in 74 Indiana counties in which the DNR wanted to increase antlerless harvests. The original rule opened the special season only in counties that had county bonus antlerless quotas (CBAQs) of four or more. The special season ultimately had little effect on annual antlerless harvests. As DNR’s deer management strategy shifted, CBAQs were gradually lowered across the state; therefore, fewer counties had CBAQs high enough to be included in the special season.

In 2019, an outbreak of epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) across southern Indiana led to an emergency rule change that lowered all CBAQs to two or fewer. The 19 counties that had CBAQs of four prior to the EHD outbreak were left open to the special season. In 2020, no counties had CBAQs of four, and none were to be open for the special season under the original rule language; however, DNR had conducted an analysis to examine deer hunters’ opinions of the special season and its effects on harvest (2019 Indiana White-tailed Deer Report). Survey responses indicated most hunters liked the special season, and the season was projected to increase antlerless harvest between 6 and 7% across the state. Because of this, a temporary rule change was issued for the 2020-2021 hunting season that opened the Special Antlerless Firearms season statewide, except in Benton and Tipton counties.

After the 2020-2021 Special Antlerless Firearms season, DNR analyzed harvest data from the CheckIN Game system and responses to the special preseason survey and the Deer Management Survey. A complete report of these analyses is in the 2020 Indiana White-tailed Deer Report (deer.dnr.IN.gov). Of respondents to the Deer Management Survey, 43% supported the Special Antlerless Firearms season; 27% opposed it; 24% participated in the season in 2020-2021; and 22% of participants were successful during the season. A total of 5,065 deer were harvested during the 2020-2021 Special Antlerless Firearms season, accounting for 8.8% of the total antlerless harvest in all 2020-2021 deer seasons.

No counties have CBAQs of four or more for the 2021-2022 deer season. Per the original rule language, this means that no counties will be open for the Special Antlerless Firearms season. After reviewing hunter survey data and noting substantial opposition to the season, DNR determined that the original rule should be left unamended for the 2021-2022 deer season. Until a county has a CBAQ high enough to qualify for the season, the Special Antlerless Firearms season will remain closed statewide.