(UNDATED) - Although there weren't many changes in the 2011 fall deer hunting seasons, there will be plenty for the 2012 season.
Carol Kugler of the Hearld-Times reports the changes include making archery season last throughout the white-tailed deer hunting seasons.
This means archers will be able to hunt deer from Oct. 1 until Jan. 6, 2013. In previous years, Indiana had an early archery season and a late archery season that were set before and after the firearms and muzzleloader seasons.
The bag limit for the new archery season will be two antlerless deer or one antlered and one antlerless deer.
The only season that will last longer in 2012-13 is for the urban deer zone hunts, which will begin Sept. 15 and end Jan. 31, 2013. The urban deer zones are set by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. Bloomington and surrounding counties are not currently part of an urban deer zone.
Another change that may save some Hoosier hunters a little cash is the new deer license bundle that people can purchase. The bundle gives resident deer hunters the privilege to harvest one antlered and two antlerless deer for $65. For nonresidents, the license is $295 and for nonresident youth, the cost is $65. This license is good during the special youth deer hunt, archery season, firearms season and muzzleloader season, as well as the special antlerless deer season. The license cannot be used for hunting deer in an urban deer zone, as that requires a special license.
Another change for hunters has to do with hunting equipment allowed in Indiana. A new regulation will allow the maximum rifle cartridge length during firearm season to be extended to 1.8 inches. This rule means that .460 Smith & Wesson, .450 Bushmaster and .50 Beowulf weapons are now legal during the deer firearms season, which is scheduled for Nov. 17-Dec. 2.
New rules will also allow crossbows to be used during archery season. Crossbows will also be legal for hunters in the urban deer zones. All crossbows must have a mechanical safety and at least a 125 pounds pull. A deer crossbow license will be required for anyone who wants to hunt with a crossbow during the archery season unless that person has a valid resident youth hunt/trap license, a lifetime comprehensive hunting license or a lifetime comprehensive hunting and fishing license. Hunters with a crossbow license are allowed to take only one deer per crossbow license.
More proposed changes
Besides the changes that will go into effect this year, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources is now taking public comments for another proposed change that would make the one antlered deer regulation permanent in Indiana.
The one antlered deer rule, or one-buck rule, states that hunters in Indiana are permitted to kill just one white-tailed deer with antlers. That rule has been part of the deer hunting season regulations for several years, but this proposal would make that permanent, according to Chad Stewart, deer biologist with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. During most of the hunting seasons, hunters would also be allowed to take one or two antlerless deer. Anyone wanting to comment on this proposed change can go to www.in.gov/nrc/2377.htm.
Another proposed change that can be found at that website is one for an online check-in of deer and wild turkeys killed in Indiana.
Up until now, hunters have 48 hours to take the animal they have killed to a check-in station so it is properly registered. The new system would allow hunters to check in the animals through an online system. At first, both the physical check-in stations and the online system will be available to hunters, Stewart said.
Eventually, DNR officials hope to have the online system in place so the physical check-in stations are no longer needed.
An online check-in system is used in other states including Illinois, Kentucky and Virginia, Stewart said. Ohio is also in the process of adding the online system.
"Nothing's finalized yet," Stewart said.
About the 2011 fall deer hunting seasons
Fewer deer were killed during the 2011 deer hunting season in Indiana. A total of 129,018 deer were killed, which was the fourth best season on record, according to an Indiana Department of Natural Resources news release. The largest harvest was 134,004 deer taken in 2010.
The 2011 deer season had a record number of deer killed by hunters using muzzleloaders, with 33,571 deer taken during the firearm or muzzleloader seasons.
More people purchased deer licenses in 2011, with a total of 276,398 licenses sold. That was the most sold since the DNR began its computerized point-of-sale license system in 2006.
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