Griffy Lake Nature Preserve closed this weekend for CHAP Deer Hunts

BLOOMINGTON- Griffy Lake Nature Preserve will be closed to the public on November 20 and 21, and November 27 and 28 during the Community Hunting Access Program (CHAP) deer hunts taking place those weekends.

The nature preserve will be closed to the public on these weekends, beginning at 11 p.m. on the Friday before the hunt through 5 a.m. the Monday after the hunt. 

Only hunters who have applied, and who have been selected through a skill proficiency test, will participate in the deer hunt at Griffy Lake. Hunters were selected for this fall’s hunt by White Buffalo, Inc., the contractor hired by the Department to administer the CHAP hunt. Griffy Lake Nature Preserve is not open to hunting outside the scheduled CHAP hunt weekends, or to any hunter who was not selected to participate.

The City of Bloomington Parks and Recreation Department was awarded a CHAP grant from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources to offset the cost of holding the deer hunts.

The hunts are intended to protect biodiversity at Griffy Lake Nature Preserve by removing enough deer to reduce browse pressure on seedling trees and native understory plants, allowing the populations of these plants to recover and reproduce. 

The need to reduce the deer population was established by the Joint City of Bloomington-Monroe County Deer Task Force in their 2012 report “Common Ground: Toward Balance and Stewardship.”  In addition, vegetation studies conducted at the Griffy Lake Nature Preserve over the past six years by the Bloomington Parks and Recreation Department’s natural resources management staff indicate a high level of deer browse pressure on native plant species. Vegetation monitoring results over the next several years will guide future deer management efforts.

The Parks and Recreation Department in September received a CHAP grant from the Indiana DNR Division of Fish & Wildlife to contract with White Buffalo, Inc. to administer this year’s hunt. White Buffalo, Inc. is a leading expert in population control of white-tailed deer in urban areas, and was selected to run the CHAP hunts at Griffy Lake Nature Preserve based on their familiarity with Midwestern forest ecosystems, their comprehensive understanding of the ecology of white-tailed deer, and their excellent safety record.

The Department contracted with White Buffalo for the first time in 2014 to conduct a sharpshoot to remove deer from the nature preserve, but the sharpshoot did not take place.  A sharpshoot conducted by White Buffalo, Inc. in late 2017 removed 62 deer from the property. A CHAP hunt scheduled for November 2018, also administered by White Buffalo, Inc., did not take place after the hunt failed to draw the minimum number of hunters to apply to participate. Another CHAP hunt held in November/December 2019 removed 26 deer from Griffy Lake Nature Preserve. A CHAP hunt conducted in November 2020 removed 40 deer from the preserve.

White Buffalo, Inc. vetted, trained, and will supervise the hunters who successfully passed the proficiency screenings required to participate in this year’s CHAP hunt. All hunters are assigned to specific hunting zones within the nature preserve and must hunt from tree stands that are at least 12′ high. 

Griffy Lake Nature Preserve is designated as a deer reduction zone (DRZ) by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. Under DRZ regulations, each hunter is permitted to take up to one antlered and up to nine antlerless deer within the DRZ. Additional information about DMZs can be found online at

Eco Logic, LLC conducted a study of woody and herbaceous deer browse at Griffy Lake Nature Preserve from 2018 through 2020.  According to Eco Logic’s report, the overall height of tree saplings measured increased each year, especially between 2018 and 2019, and between 2018 and 2020. According to the report presented to the Board of Park Commissioners on October 22, 2019, deer selectively browse certain favored plants, including oak seedlings, keeping them from growing, or growing large enough to reproduce.  Oak trees are an important native species in the area, whose maintenance is essential to a healthy and diverse ecosystem. 

For more information about Griffy Lake Nature Preserve or the CHAP deer hunts, contact Steve Cotter, Bloomington Parks and Recreation Natural Resources Manager, at or 812-349-3736.