In Indiana, youth hunters have a number of opportunities to help them get outdoors.
The list starts with a low-cost hunting license and special hunting dates set aside for them.
The resident youth hunt/trap license is $12 for any Indiana resident age 17 or younger. It includes all hunting and trapping licenses and stamp privileges, including small game, deer, wild turkey, and waterfowl. No additional licenses are needed, unless a Federal Duck Stamp is required (age 16 and older). All hunters of waterfowl and other migratory birds must have a free Harvest Information Program (HIP) number (Waterfowl & Migratory Bird Regulations).
The license also is available to nonresident youth (age 17 or younger) who have a parent, grandparent, or legal guardian who is an Indiana resident.
Nonresident youth who don’t qualify for the $12 license can buy the appropriate nonresident youth license — annual hunting, deer, turkey, or trapping — at the same rate as a resident adult license, which is less than nonresident adult licenses.
There also are hunt dates for youth age 17 and younger, and many DNR-managed properties offer youth hunting events. For more details, check hunting.IN.gov.
Free Hunting Days
The free youth hunting dates in 2023 are Sept. 2-3 and Nov. 25-26.
Any resident age 17 or younger on the date of the hunt can take any legal game in season during these free youth hunting days. To participate, the youth must be accompanied by an adult who is at least 18 years of age.
The youth hunter does not have to possess a hunting license, Harvest Information Program (HIP) number, or any state stamp, but must comply with all other hunting regulations.
To hunt waterfowl, a federal duck stamp is required for all persons 16 years or older.
The youth’s adult partner must be in close enough proximity to monitor and be able to communicate with the youth hunter at all times. The adult may help the youth hunter with calling game but may not carry a firearm, crossbow, or bow and arrow, except for a handgun carried lawfully. The adult must possess a valid hunting license, unless exempted from needing a license.
Youth Deer Season
Youth deer season for properly licensed youth hunters is Sept. 23-24, 2023. Youth age 17 or younger on the date of the hunt can participate but must be accompanied by an adult who is at least 18 years of age.
The youth hunter may harvest both antlered and antlerless deer. The antlered deer counts toward the statewide bag limit of one antlered deer. The number of antlerless deer harvested is determined by the bonus anterless quota for the county hunted.
The youth hunter must possess a valid license for hunting deer while in the field unless exempt from needing a license. The youth’s adult partner must possess a valid hunting license of any type that is not an apprentice license.
The youth hunter and adult partner must wear hunter orange.
The youth hunter may use a legal rifle, shotgun, muzzleloader, air gun, bow and arrow, or crossbow to take a deer.
The adult partner cannot take a deer and may not possess a firearm, muzzleloader, bow and arrow, or crossbow while in the field with the youth hunter, except for a handgun carried lawfully.
Only one antlerless deer may be taken on DNR-managed Fish & Wildlife areas and some other DNR properties.
The youth hunter must comply with all other deer hunting regulations.
Youth Waterfowl Season
The 2023 youth waterfowl season dates for properly licensed youth hunters are Oct. 21-22 (North Zone), Oct. 28-29 (Central Zone), and Nov. 4-5 (South Zone). Youth 17 or younger on the date of the hunt can participate, but must be accompanied by an adult who is at least 18 years of age. A Federal Duck Stamp is required for all persons 16 years of age or older. A Harvest Information Program number (HIP) is required during the youth waterfowl season. A state Waterfowl Stamp is not required to hunt waterfowl or other migratory birds for resident and nonresident youth license holders.
Youth Turkey Season
The youth wild turkey season for properly licensed youth hunters is April 20-21, 2024.
Youth age 17 or younger on the date of the hunt can participate but must be accompanied by an adult who is at least 18 years of age.
A resident youth hunter must have the resident youth hunt/trap combo license (no stamp required). A nonresident youth hunter must have a valid nonresident youth turkey hunting license and game bird habitat stamp privilege or a valid nonresident youth turkey hunting license and nonresident annual youth hunting license. The adult that accompanies a youth hunter during the youth turkey season does not need to be accompanied by a licensed adult, unless the youth hunter has an apprentice license, in which state law requires a person who purchases an apprentice license to be accompanied by a licensed individual age 18 or older (IC 14-22-12-1.7), unless that adult is exempt from needing a license under state law.
The youth hunter may take only one bearded or male wild turkey in the spring, which includes both the youth and regular spring turkey seasons. The youth must comply with all other turkey hunting regulations.
The youth hunter may use any legal shotgun, bow and arrow, or crossbow. The youth’s adult partner may not take a turkey and must not possess a firearm, bow and arrow, or crossbow while in the field, except for a handgun carried lawfully.
National Refuge Hunts
Big Oaks and Muscatatuck national wildlife refuges (NWR) will have deer hunts in 2023 and turkey hunts in 2024 for youth hunters. Adults cannot hunt or carry firearms during this hunt.
The youth deer hunt dates are Sept. 23-24, 2023 at Muscatatuck NWR and Oct. 28, 2023 at Big Oaks NWR. Big Oaks NWR also offers an optional youth deer hunt workshop for the drawn hunters and their families on Oct. 27, 2023.
The youth turkey hunt dates are April 20-21, 2024 at Muscatatuck NWR and April 21, 2024 at Big Oaks NWR. Big Oaks NWR also offers and optional youth turkey hunt workshop for the drawn hunters and their families on April 20, 2024.
To apply for Big Oaks NWR youth hunts, send a postcard that includes the youth’s name, address, and phone number to Big Oaks NWR, 1661 W. JPG Niblo Road, Madison, IN 47250. The application deadline is Oct. 1, 2023 for the deer hunt and April 1, 2024 for the turkey hunt.
To apply for the Muscatatuck NWR hunts, visit on.IN.gov/reservedhunt.