Indiana is the sixth best state in the United States for whitetail deer hunting. With abundance in numbers of wild turkey, furbearers, migratory birds, Indiana also offers excellent opportunities to hunters from all over the state and abroad.
The state’s fantastic forest properties and inexpensive hunting tags and permits allure thousands of hunter enthusiasts to plan their trips in Indiana’s quality hunting land each year.
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1. What Species To Hunt
Deer is most commonly found in all the parts of Indiana. The home ranges of both male and female deer though vary in different seasons.
The rise in population of this particular species since the 1930s forced the state to introduce hunting specially for deer reduction as it became a threat to native plants as well as other wildlife.
However, these hunts are not available in all state parks each year. The increase in harvest numbers over the ages has proved this initiative much more effective. Harrison-Crawford State Forest and Washington County are the two best destinations for all deer-hunting lovers in Indiana.
Once a vanished species, turkeys now exist in all 92 counties of Indiana. They have both a spring and fall season. They can be usually found in lowlands, farm fields, pastures and the counties of Switzerland, Ohio, Dearborn, Crawford are the best places to hunt them.
There are a wide variety of furbearing animals that exist in Indiana such as coyote, gray fox, opossum, raccoon, red fox, striped skunk. They can be hunted with dogs as well as bow, crossbow and firearm but a burning light that can be seen for at least 500 feet must be carried by hunters for after-sunset hunting.
It is illegal to pursue badgers and bobcats in Indiana though accidental captures if proved can be overlooked. For landowners who are residents or tenants, hunting a beaver, mink, muskrat, red fox, gray fox, opossum, skunk, gray squirrel, raccoon, long-tailed weasel without a permit is permissible.
Indiana has two species of rabbits- cottontail and swamp. They can be found in FWAs and lakes of Mississinewa, Patoka, Salamonie etc.
Gray and fox squirrels fall under the category of protected species in Indiana. Hunters are free to use any kind of equipment or ammunition to hunt them. Though to hunt flying squirrels, a special permit is required.
1.6 Reptiles And Amphibians
Hunters can legally pursue frogs, lizards, salamanders, snakes, toads, turtles in Indiana. However, these animals cannot be sold and in case of those legally captured, hunters must release at their original place when captured.
Migratory birds such as sora, American woodcock, snipe, special teal, ducks, coots, mergansers, geese are hunted from sunrise to sunset. It is mandatory for all hunters seeking migratory birds to register each season for Harvest Information Program.
There are special reserved pheasant hunts conducted in northern parts of Indiana like Benton, Jasper, Newton, Warren and White Counties. There no equipment restriction though female pheasants cannot be killed during it-and-take hunts in some areas.
There are two zones for quail hunting in Indiana – north and south. The season dates and bag limits vary in each zone.
Besides this, other wild birds such as English sparrows, English starlings, monk parakeets, feral pigeons, crows can also be hunted with season and bag limitations.
Hunting season refers to that time of the year when killing, seeking or pursuing a certain species of wildlife for sport or food is legal without any restriction.
In the United States, each state ascertains its own specific dates to hunt a certain sport animal considering the complete understanding of its breeding and incubation period, ideal distribution of age and gender and also the economic concerns of the state.
- Deer hunting season in Reduction Zone lasts from September to January. Open hunting season for youth takes place in the month of September. Hunting with archery equipment, firearm and muzzleloaders are allowed in the months of October, November, December and January.
- The spring season of turkey starts from April to May. The fall season lasts from October to January.
- Hunters can hunt red and gray fox from October to February.
- Coyote and striped skunk can be hunted from October to March.
- Open season for raccoon and opossum is from November to January and they can also be chased with dogs from February to October.
- Rabbit season starts in November and continues till February.
- Gray and fox squirrel season runs from August to January.
- Falconry season dates varies in north, south and central zones with a daily bag limit of 3 and possession limit of 9.
3. Where can you hunt
3.1 Fish And Wildlife Areas
In Indiana, you require a hunting or fishing license to hunt or fish on public land. The public land of Indiana of more than 3 million acres include wildlife areas which offer inexpensive hunting opportunities as well as fishing, enjoying scenic beauty and participating in other recreational activities.
In addition, high quality accommodation, food services and genuine knowledgeable guides make the experience more enjoyable. There are some Fish and Wildlife Areas in Indiana one can check out before visiting –
- Atterbury FWA
- Blue Grass FWA
- Chinook FWA
- Fairbanks Landing FWA
- Crosley FWA
3.2 State Reservoirs And State Forests
Indiana’s state reservoirs, parks and forest are accessible public hunting lands for visitors as well as Indiana residents. However, certain changes of general rules and regulations, season dates and bag limit may appear here for specific activities.
There are 24 state parks and 8 reservoirs abound in buildings, lodges, swimming pools and other facilities for hunters to enjoy.
- Brookville Lake
- Cables Mill Lake
- Hardy Lake
- Clark SF
- Ferdinand SF
Apart from these, there are hundreds of state lakes and forests in Indiana for hunters to practice numerous shooting sports over the year.
3.3 Private Land
According to report, 92% of the land of Indiana are privately owned. There are exclusive hunting rights for landowners, tenants and resident hunters for all game species in these lands.
4. License Requirements
In Indiana, you need a valid hunting license for all kinds of hunting on both public and private land. There are different types of licenses available for residents, non-residents, persons with disabilities. In case of some species, state and /or federal stamps are required.
All kinds of licenses can be acquired online. One can also visit registered retailers or the DNR Customer Service Center to avail it. Another way to purchase a license is to mail the required documents and information such as name, date of birth, complete address, Hunter Education Certificate (if applicable) to the DNR Customer Service address or by a phone call.
People born after Dec. 31, 1986 need hunting license for all kinds of activities though there are some exemptions. If you lose or damage your license, it can be reprinted at no cost online.
4.1 Non-Resident Private Shooting License
Non-residents are required to get a shooting preserve license both for adults and youths for all hunting species on private land. Hunters need to renew their licenses after April 30 immediately as it will expire on that date.
4.2 Physically Disabled Persons
Individuals who have difficulty in walking, are permitted to hunt from a vehicle or are given special vehicle access on public land through a special permit. Those who have some permanent disabilities as defined by the state law, may get a conditional hunter education card.
4.3 Apprentice Liceses
Apprentice licenses can be purchased by residents and non-residents without taking a hunter education class.
4.4 Military Licenses
Indiana residents involved in full-time military service and also nonresident military personnel stationed at Indiana do not need a hunting license.
There are some exceptions in license requirements for Indiana residents who farm on their land, trustees, trust beneficiaries etc.
5. Hunter Education
5.1 Do You Need It?
It is mandatory for all hunters with some exemptions to complete a DNR-offered hunter education course to purchase a license. The class is offered both online and online. Anyone born after Dec. 31, 1986 need to attend a hunter education class.
5.2 Traditional Course
Anyone can join the traditional hunter safety course but a child under 11 years of age must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. There are no charges for this course in Indiana.
5.3 Online Course
The online course is approved by the state and is for Indiana residents only. If anyone wants to take it, he or she has to be 12 years old.
6. Rules And Regulations
6.1 Distance Regulations
You may shoot 300 feet away from the marked safe zones on most of the public grounds. On private property, there is no distance restriction but you must aware of houses, buildings, barns, roads and property lines.
6.2 Legal Hunting Hours
For deer, ducks, geese and turkey hunting, you should start before one-half hour of sunrise and end after one-half hour of sunset. There is no time restriction for hunting furbearing animals and small game species except rabbits. The hunting hours may differ in public hunting areas.
6.3 Hunter Orange Requirement
Hunters must wear fluorescent orange garment while hunting deer, rabbit, pheasant, quail, turkey, woodcock and squirrel.
6.4 Bag And Possession Limit
In order to preserve wildlife, Indiana has fixed daily bag and possession limits for each animal. You can possess the number of animals which is two times the daily bag limit for species except migratory birds, deer and turkey.
6.5 Bow Requirements
Legal hunting equipment for archery season includes long bows, recurve bows and arrows.
- The bow should have a pull of 35 pounds.
- During archery season, you may use crossbows
7. Prohibited Practices
- Hunters are not allowed to chase animals and birds motor driven transports, boats except for persons with disabilities and while hunting waterfowl or squirrels.
- Using handguns to hunt deer except during the firearms, special antler-less firearms seasons and muzzleloader seasons.
- Hunters are prohibited to hunt, shoot at or kill any animal from within, into, upon, or across any public land.
- It is illegal to use any aerial vehicle like drones to locate or detect any hunting species.
- You cannot use spotlight, searchlight or any artificial light in order to take any wild animal down.
Indiana remains the top destination for hunting all big-game and small-game species with millions of acres of public land.
Apart from the above-mentioned information, one can also visit Indiana’s official fish and wildlife online website for further details: https://www.in.gov/dnr/.
- Hunting & Trapping Guide
- 2020-2021 Hunting & Trapping Guide
- Indiana Hunting Regulations
- Where To Hunt In Indiana
- Time for Tree Rats- Squirrel Hunting in Indiana
- Hunting in Indiana
- INDIANA HUNTING LEASES
- Official Indiana Hunter Safety Course Online
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