The Indiana deer firearms season starts the first Saturday after Veteran's Day, and runs for 16 days. The 2017 season is Nov. 18-Dec. 3.
Estimates of prior years’ herd numbers are about 730,000 deer in 2015 based on harvest data, 700,000 deer in 2014, 730,000 in 2013 and 780,000 in 2012. It has been estimated more than 200,000 hunters will be deer hunting this year in Indiana.
The purchase of deer licenses has considerably helped fund the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Deer license sales in 2011 reached 276,387; in 2012, 316,858; in 2013 – 314,881; in 2014 – 313,235; and for the latest year reported, 2015 – 313,932.
However, Indiana’s combination of deer season rules, regulations, allowances and variances make a complex web of regulations difficult to interpret and more befitting a “Philadelphia lawyer” than guidelines for Hoosier hunters.
Indiana offers a “deer license bundle” offering a lot of variable application for Hoosier hunters. For $65, the deer license bundle is one license including privileges to harvest two antlerless deer and one antlered deer, or three antlerless deer.
It is somewhat of a bargain, as the price of three deer tags would run a hunter $72. The bundle is also applicable throughout all of the Indiana deer seasons, making it a one-license-does-it-all for hunters.
In order to help answer a lot of common questions about the deer license bundle, the Division of Fish & Wildlife has compiled a list of commonly asked questions, including the following:
What licenses does the deer license bundle cover?
You can use the bundle to cover the one antlered deer you would harvest using your archery/crossbow license OR your firearms license OR your muzzleloader license. The bundle may be used to cover up to two antlerless deer you would harvest using your archery/crossbow license OR your muzzleloader license OR your bonus antlerless license.
You may also use the bundle to cover the three antlerless deer you would harvest using your archery/crossbow license, muzzleloader license and/or bonus antlerless license.
What are the benefits of the deer bundle for multi-season hunters?
The ability to hunt multiple seasons (except the deer reduction zone season) and harvest up to three deer. The license will allow the opportunity to hunt antlered deer in the archery/crossbow, firearms and muzzleloader seasons until the hunter harvests an antlered deer.
Hunters see an increased cost savings the more seasons they hunt.
What are some examples of things you can do with the deer bundle license?
You can hunt for your antlered deer during archery season while filling antlerless bags. If you do not have an antlered deer come by during archery season, pick up a legal firearm and go out during firearms season.
You can have three licenses available during firearms season, and if you don't fill them, take your muzzleloader out during muzzleloader season, or take your firearms out in the special antlerless season and try to harvest an antlerless deer.
You have a license privilege allowing you to harvest one antlered and two antlerless or three antlerless deer during the archery season, flip back and forth using different types of legal archery equipment (long/recurve/compound/cross) during the archery season if you prefer.
If you choose not to harvest all three deer with archery equipment, you may pick up a legal firearm and hunt during firearms, muzzleloader or special antlerless season until you reach your bag limit for the deer bundle. Just be sure to follow all season and county quota bag limits.
Can I use the bundle as a bonus antlerless license on DNR properties?
The bundle cannot be used to take bonus antlerless deer on a DNR property during special antlerless deer season, nor during any regular deer season, except where authorized. This means antlerless deer cannot be harvested with a firearm during firearms season on DNR properties.
See the Indiana Hunting and Trapping Guide. Contact the DNR property you wish to hunt for exceptions. If the property has restrictions on bonus antlerless license harvest, use the flowchart to determine how to use the bundle on the select properties.
Can I use the bundle in the deer reduction zone?
No, the deer license bundle cannot be used in the deer reduction zone to satisfy deer reduction zone bag limits. It may be used in deer reduction zones when fulfilling regular season bag limits.
Bonus antlerless permits
A person must first purchase a Bonus Antlerless Deer License at the rate of $24 (residents) or $150 (non-residents) before purchasing the second and any additional bonus antlerless deer licenses at the reduced rate of $15.
The bonus antlerless state chart is available at www.eregulations.com/indiana/hunting/bonus-antlerless-deer or in the 2017-18 hunting and fishing guide. The county limits run from a low of a single antlerless deer, to a high of eight deer in some counties.
Bonus antlerless county quotas have been set for the 2017-18 Indiana deer hunting season. In addition to the basic bag limits for the license purchased, hunters may purchase bonus antlerless licenses if they wish to take additional antlerless deer. No more than one deer may be taken per bonus antlerless license.
Bonus antlerless licenses may be used in any season, except the Reduction Zone season and prior to Nov. 30 for counties designated as “A” and using the equipment legal at the time.
Bonus licenses may be used in any county, but you may not take more than the quota for bonus antlerless deer in any specific county. The map in the guide indicates county quotas for bonus antlerless deer.
Bonus antlerless licenses may not be used on DNR-managed Fish & Wildlife Areas but may be used on some other DNR properties and on some Healthy Rivers Initiative sites. Contact the property or go to www.wildlife.IN.gov/8367.htm for details.
County quotas range from A to 8. For counties designated as an A, a bonus antlerless license may be used to take one antlerless deer from Nov. 30-Jan. 7 (the last four days of regular firearms season, plus muzzleloader season and the remainder of archery season). Bonus antlerless licenses cannot be used in A counties prior to Nov. 30.
For counties designated 1 to 8, hunters may take additional antlerless deer but cannot exceed the county quota. Only counties with a quota of 4 or above are eligible for the special antlerless season (Dec. 26-Jan. 7).
Antlerless deer harvested with the deer license bundle must be used toward the bag limit for bonus antlerless deer in that county, as well as the archery, muzzleloader and special antlerless-only bag limits.
For example, during archery season the third antlerless deer harvested counts towards the bonus antlerless county quota; in firearms season any antlerless deer harvested must count toward the antlerless quota; and during muzzleloader season, the second antlerless deer counts towards the county quota.
Special antlerless firearms season
The special antlerless deer firearms season is from Dec. 26-Jan. 7, in counties with a bonus antlerless deer quota of 4 or more (shaded counties on map). The special antlerless firearms season gives hunters additional opportunities to harvest antlerless deer in the participating counties.
Hunters may use the deer license bundle to fulfill bag limits during the special antlerless season, but must purchase additional antlerless licenses after bag limits have been reached. Hunters who do not have a bundle license must purchase a separate bonus antlerless license to hunt in the special antlerless firearms season and have one license for each additional deer.
The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of Farm World. Readers with questions or comments may contact Jack Spaulding by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by writing to him in care of this publication.