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Indiana Hunting Seasons

Mike Slinkard

December 7, 2022

The hunting scene in Indiana offers ample deer harvesting opportunities that you won’t find anywhere else. 

Approximately 110,000 white-tailed deer are harvested yearly, with individual counties offering bonus hunting licenses to gain additional tags across the state. Not only that, but landowners can offer their private property for managed antlerless deer hunts. 

But white-tailed deer season isn’t the only open season Indiana has to offer — hunters have the chance to harvest turkeys, pheasants, foxes, coyotes, and small game as well. 

While the state has specific rules and regulations for acquiring a hunting license, the Department of Natural Resources offers a free and convenient online system for registration and game check-in. Indiana natives and nonresidents alike can purchase their yearly license and set off for a great hunt.

Deer Hunting Season in Indiana

Deer seasons vary from state to state which can be tricky for hunters new to Indiana. If you’re interested in participating in the hunt, here’s what you’ll need to know about approved equipment, licensing, and the dates for upcoming open seasons.

Dates for Deer Hunting Season

Indiana has various opportunities for hunters to punch a tag compared to other popular hunting states. The Department of Natural Resources has created two unique deer hunting seasons dedicated to population control in urban and rural areas.

SeasonDates
YouthSeptember 24th & 25th
ArcheryOctober 1st – January 1st
FirearmsNovember 12th – November 27th
MuzzleloaderDecember 3rd – December 18th
Special AntlerlessDecember 26th – January 1st 
Deer Reduction ZoneSeptember 15th – January 31st

The special antlerless season is held in select Indiana counties with bonus antlerless deer available for harvest. However, in 2021, Indiana did not hold the special antlerless season because the state had met its deer quota. 

Reduction zone hunting refers to harvesting deer near roadways and urban areas. Hunters must stay within designated spaces and hunt at least a half mile from public roads. Since hunters are reducing the number of deer in dangerous areas, this season permits a bag limit of ten deer but only one antlered deer.

Where to Hunt During Indiana Deer Season

Indiana offers over 300,000 acres of beautiful wildlife areas, state parks, and reservoir properties for hunters to traverse during the open season. Here are some of the favorite spots in the state to fill a tag:

If you’re looking for additional hunting grounds, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources has an interactive map for hunters to view nearby parks and wildlife conservation spaces that allow white-tailed deer hunting.

Approved Hunting Equipment in Indiana

Provided that an Indiana hunter has the proper licensing (the use of crossbows, firearms, or muzzleloaders will require separate licenses), here is a list of permitted hunting gear during deer season:

  • Crossbows
  • Compound bows
  • Bow and Arrow
  • Rifles with a case length between 1.16 – 1.8 inches
  • Air guns
  • Handguns
  • Shotguns
  • Muzzleloaders (only during muzzleloader season)

Visit the Indiana Hunting Regulations website for specific questions or concerns about approved hunting rifles, ammunition, and other equipment.

Cost of Deer Hunting Licenses

Before purchasing a deer hunting license, the state of Indiana requires outdoorsmen to complete hunter education courses. Hunters must enter proof of completion while completing the online application for licensing. 

For convenience, Indiana hunters may purchase their hunting license in person, by mail, or through the Indiana Department of Natural Resources website.

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License TypeResidentsNonresidents
Youth (Consolidated License for Hunting/Trapping)$12 $20
Deer Archery, Crossbow, Muzzleloader or Firearm*$39$240
First Bonus Antlerless Deer$39$240
Additional Bonus Antlerless Deer$24$39

*Archery, Crossbow, Muzzleloader, or Firearm season licenses are sold separately.

At one point, Indiana sold a Comprehensive Lifetime Hunting License, allowing residents to hunt in any open season offered in the state. While Indiana stopped selling lifetime licenses in 2005, any hunter who purchased this exclusive license still enjoys their hunting privileges today.

Deer Hunting Rules

Hunters may go afield to harvest a deer during the legal hunting hours: 30 minutes before sunrise until 30 minutes after sunset. Outdoorsmen on the hunt must wear fluorescent orange on their vest, coat, jacket, coveralls, or hat at all times. 

Bag limits will vary by license type and county limits. However, hunters may only bag one antlered deer for the entire deer season. The only exception to the one antlered limit would be tagging a second antlered deer during reduction zone season. 

Using drones, spotlighting, red dot sights, and bait is illegal in Indiana. In addition, hunters may not participate in “Party Hunting,” where a group shoots to fill everyone’s bag limit.  

Within 48 hours of harvesting deer, hunters are required by law to report their tag. The state has streamlined the reporting process, so hunters may check-in online, visit an in-store license retailer, or call the Department of Natural Resources to confirm their harvest.

Other Indiana Hunting Seasons

The majority of states in America offer deer hunting, but Indiana has some other notable open seasons that make it a favorable hunting destination. Here are some additional small game Indiana hunting seasons:

AnimalSeason Dates
TurkeySpring Youth: April 23rd & 24th Spring: April 27th – May 15th Fall (Archery): October 1st – October 30th and December 3rd – January 1st Fall (Firearm): October 19th – October 30th
Red and Gray FoxOctober 15th – February 28th
Coyote and SkunkOctober 15th – March 15th
Raccoon and OpossumNovember 8th – January 31st 
BeaverNovember 15th – March 15th
PheasantNovember 1st – December 15th
Green Frog and BullfrogJune 15th – April 30th

If you’re hoping to hunt with your dog, there’s even a season for man’s best friend to come along! From February 1st to October 25th, dogs are permitted to chase raccoons and opossums. During this season, hunters may not use archery or firearms, so save the hunting equipment for the open season that starts on November 8th.

Conclusion 

If you aim to tag as many deer as possible this upcoming season, head to Indiana. The state is looking for hunters to help manage the deer population on private land, urban areas, and near roadways. 

Additionally, select counties participate in the special antlerless season, where hunters have the opportunity to purchase another license and punch more tags. 

Indiana hunting season dates will vary across the state and by county. Please visit the Indiana Department of Natural Resources website for specific rules, regulations, and dates.

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About the Author : Mike Slinkard

A hunter displaying his bear on rocks near a lake

Mike Slinkard is a life long bow hunter, professional archer, successful entrepreneur, and self described science geek from the rural town of John Day Oregon. Mike has spent his life in close proximity to all types of animals. His grandfather was a well known cattle and horse rancher who first instilled Mike’s keen interest in animals and why they react the way they do in different situations. Mike’s insatiable curiosity in this realm led him to team with other professionals to make the HECS discovery in 2009. Mike has hunted all over the world and has taken over 30 species with archery gear including 48 elk to date. Mike currently hosts “Hunting with HECS TV” on the Pursuit Channel. He has also written many bow hunting and archery articles as well as being a guest on many different hunting podcasts.

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