Edinburgh meeting on Indiana deer hunting changes has low attendance

Jack Slife, of St. Marys, Ohio poses with a hunting rifle. Lima News file photo

EDINBURGH — Few people showed up to a second public hearing on Indiana’s proposed deer hunting rule changes managed by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

The Indiana Natural Resources Commission meeting at Atterbury Fish & Wildlife Area in Edinburgh had one person show up for the meeting, with a few more attending online.

The new proposed rules are to help simplify and make things easier to understand for hunters, said Joe Caudell, state deer biologist.

The agency details the 17 proposed changes at in.gov/dnr/fish-and-wildlife/rule-regulation-changes/.

The first public hearing, held at Fort Harrison State Park in Indianapolis in March, yielded much of the same results, the Indiana Capital Chronicle reported.

A survey sent to Hoosiers in February helped shape the new rules, Caudell said.

About 25,000 to 27,000 participated in the survey, which included questions about the changes and whether hunters would support or oppose some rules changes. Some things weren’t changed because a majority of hunters said they wouldn’t support it, he said.

“We try to put this out in front of our hunters so we can get their input before we get to this stage,” Caudell said.

A common question the state’s deer hotline receives is about the number of deer that a hunter can harvest, Caudell said. Right now, the answer depends on what equipment is being used and what county they are in.

The proposed rule would simplify it so that number is the same no matter the equipment.

The deer license bundle currently allows hunters to take three antlerless deer or a buck and two antlerless deer, or doe. DNR has found over the years that a majority of hunters harvest a buck and two antlerless deer, Caudell said. The new proposed rule will simplify the license bundle by allowing hunters to harvest one buck and two antlerless deer instead of choosing, Caudell said.

One change wouldn’t do much other than change the name of a license, Caudell said. The Bonus Antlerless License will change to a multi-season antlerless license, but will stay the same otherwise, he said.

Hunters would not be able to harvest an antlerless deer using the antlerless deer bonus license on a fish and wildlife property, Caudell said.

“We looked at this and what we’re doing is saying that people cannot harvest a doe or an antlerless deer on a fish and wildlife property with a firearm because that was the intent of that,” Caudell said. “Even though that’s a change, it’s actually staying exactly the same as it was before.”

John Duell drove from Greene County to ask questions and give public comment about the number of deer he can take each season. Duell thinks the number of antlerless deer per season is too low, he said.

Kyle Cross from Switz City shared a concern he has with removing the special antlerless firearms seasons. The season starts Dec. 26 and goes to the first Sunday in the following January. Cross said he understands the reasoning behind removing it, but feels it’s “shortsighted” to get rid of it entirely, he said.

Instead, he would like to see the special antlerless season become another regular season to help with hunter recruitment later in the season, he said.

“It’s just another opportunity,” Cross said. “We know that recruitment is low, I think it would really help with that.”

The deadline to submit public comments was May 20. The commission will make a decision at an upcoming meeting, but the date has not been set yet. Officials said it will likely be held sometime in November.