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Indiana Legalizes Rifles for Deer Hunting, Goes Behind DNR’s Back

All images by Brad Smith

Apparently, politicians know more than the Indiana DNR when it comes to rifles for deer hunting. 

In a collective slap to the face of all Indiana deer hunters and the DNR, politicians in the Indiana legislature have legalized the use of rifles for deer hunting. It is a fact that most states have already legalized the use of rifles for deer, but Indiana has largely remained one of the states strongly against it for a variety of reasons. Now, it looks like Indiana outdoorsmen, and the men and women who are responsible for the Indiana deer herd, have our hands tied.

Just last year in 2015, the Indiana DNR hosted a year-long information session studying the possible effects of legalizing rifles in Indiana for deer. After very heavy opposition from hunters and everyday citizens, along with common sense efforts from the DNR, the change was overwhelmingly ruled against.

As soon as the bill was passed by politicians, the Indiana DNR quickly attempted to distance itself from this decision by posting this on their Facebook page.

House Bill 1231 was passed by the Indiana General Assembly this year and signed by the Governor. It was initiated by a state legislator and not the DNR. It allows the following high-powered rifles on private land only statewide, with a limit of no more than 10 cartridges (possessed in the field)…

250 yard shot. Fair game now in Indiana.

Enter Rep. Lloyd Arnold, a republican from Leavenworth, Indiana. He was the author of House Bill 1231 which legalized the use of .243, .30-.30, .300, .30-06 and .308 caliber rifles. Even though I have no evidence to back this up, I have to wonder how much big insurance has to play in his re-election campaigns in the future. I’m not saying money bought this decision, but the desires of the voters sure didn’t have a say at all.

“We now have the legislature micromanaging the DNR and wildlife management and hunting methods,” said Doug Allman, spokesman for the Indiana Deer Hunters Association in a recent interview. “What’s next, fishing lures?”

Indiana’s deer herd has been knocked back to levels many hunters have not seen in years. In large part, politicians have been involved in opening extended doe only seasons after does have been bred and bucks have shed their antlers, as well as excessive tag limits for many counties. Despite cries from outdoorsmen across the state, another politician has decided what’s best for us all.

Considering most of northern Indiana consists of small patches of woods and extensive fields, a hunter with a .243 and a good scope could knock a buck down at 300 yards all day. That spells disaster for what deer herd Indiana has left.

“Rifles are allowed to be used for some animals in this state but you don’t have 250,000 hunters out there on opening weekend shooting, sometimes at running animals,” said Allman.

For example, check out this picture below. This is a typical Indiana scene. Here’s a deer herd with homes in the background. Do you believe 250,000 hunters would not take this 300 yard shot with those homes in the background?


In some of the woods where I hunt, I can see hunters from across the field. Knowing that they could possess the firepower to knock me out of my treestand from a ricochet is rather unsettling. However, don’t think for a second good old Rep. Arnold gave a second’s thought to that. He might have had dollar signs blocking his common sense.

Again, would one of the 250,000 hunters with an unknown amount of rifles take this shot?

Large buck pushing a doe at 300 yards

You see, Rep. Arnold was cited as saying that because those types of accidents don’t happen in other states, Indiana hunters just don’t have anything to worry about.

Well Indiana, welcome to the 2016 deer season. Get ready for an open season of the ‘it’s brown it’s down’ philosophy from hunters playing right into big insurance and politician’s hands. Only now, it can happen at 300 or more yards. Who needs a treestand in northern Indiana counties? Just get a good scope and sit on a bucket 400 yards out in a cut field.

I think I’m going to skip deer season this year in my own style of protest. Missing revenue is the only message our politicians will get, considering it’s obviously not about the voice of the people.

Besides, our deer herd needs all the help it can get.



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Indiana Legalizes Rifles for Deer Hunting, Goes Behind DNR’s Back