On Tuesday the Indiana Natural Resources Commission voted down a proposal that would have allowed hunters to harvest deer with many larger-caliber rifles. The 12-member board’s decision followed a recommendation by the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) against the proposal. Although the DNR predicted that larger-caliber rifles will not have an effect on the state’s deer herd or cause significant safety issues, the agency ultimately said that the issue caused too wide a rift among hunters.

“The Division of Fish and Wildlife surmised from all of the comments that while many people are interested in using these center-fire [sic] rifles, we found out that many people are not interested and strongly oppose their use,” the DNR wrote in a memo.

Under Indiana’s current regulations, hunters are restricted to muzzledloaders, shotguns, and a certain range of pistol and rifle calibers during deer season. Certain large-caliber rounds, such as .450 Bushmaster or .50 Beowulf, are allowed for deer hunting while most other calibers larger than .243 are not. The proposal would have extended the range of centerfire rifle calibers that hunters could use, including the ever-popular .30-.30.

More than 600 people offered their opinion on the issue as part of a six-month period for public comment. Many hunters supported the rifle proposal because they believe that larger-caliber rifles allowed for more efficient, ethical kills. Opponents argued that “high-powered” rifles could be detrimental to the deer population, and even dangerous in light of Indiana’s flat terrain. In the end, the Natural Resources Commission agreed with the DNR in that hunter opinion on the proposal was just too divided.

“Any time you pass something that you don’t have a clear consensus on you create a lot of disruption,” Natural Resources Commission member Pat Early told WBAA. “We’re all about hunting and fishing and using the resources and not about creating controversy.”

Image from Larry Smith on the flickr Creative Commons

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5 thoughts on “Indiana Shoots Down Expanded Rifle Hunting Proposal for Deer Season

  1. I would like to see a high power rifle deer season with striction in areas in zones I don’t see what it would hurt I’ve seen date another state it’s no different than what we got already

  2. It’s utterly rediculous for Indiana officials to deny this. There has been a huge surge in hunting interest, but the cartridge restriction makes that a barrier to new hunters. New cartridges like .300 Blackout can be used to harvest deer and feral hogs within a limited range with relative ease. The best part, if you already have an AR-15 you can just swap the barrel or buy a new .300 BLK upper for a fraction of the cost of a brand new rifle just for deer hunting. Also, people who already own firearms in popular hunting calibers like .30-30 Winchester or 45-70 Govt. would be able to use these very ethical and proven calibers. However, we’re stuck with politicians that have no concept of ballistics or hunter ethics. So we’re shoehorned into using only what they “allow”, which is restrictive and often not as adequate for hunting. A 12 gauge slug from a rifled barrel shotgun still only has a range of (at absolute maximum) 200 yards. Any hunter with an ounce of sense using a .308 or 30-06 isn’t going to take an 800 yard sniper shot at a deer. Especially, if they are anywhere within a few miles of a populated area. The further away from your target the higher the chance of wounding the animal instead of killing it. So the restriction on calibers because of range is a bunk argument. At maximum, any hunter with two brain cells to rub together is going to minimize the distance from their target so if they have to take a follow-up shot, they can with relative ease. Also, the overwhelming majority of hunters are careful about having a backstop between them and their target. Or, if a hunter is shooting from a stand, shooting at a downward angle so the bullet hits the dirt. Therefore the bullet does not go flying into the blue yonder that could potentially hit someone/something they don’t intend to hit. Not lifting this restriction is just Government politicains (likely non-hunters) saying they know better than you as a hunter. It’s mind-bogglingly insulting.

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