The Problem with the Indiana Deer Hunting License System
It’s time Indiana took a good long look at the deer hunting license structure. The current system is an outdated, confusing, and illogical.
Nearly a decade has passed since the DNR had discussions with hunters across the state. The state wanted to know what could be done to help make the deer hunting license system work better. I attended one such discussion. Rather than engaging hunters in meaningful discussion, it seemed officials were sent out with strict orders to defend the nonsense and tell us why our ideas wouldn’t work.
It shouldn’t be difficult to purchase a deer license or explain deer licensing structure. Yet, Indiana continues to cling to a system many hunters don’t fully understand, and many more hate.
The sad part is Indiana doesn’t have to look beyond its neighbors to find licensing systems that make infinitely more sense. Ohio and Kentucky both have remarkably straight-forward, simple, deer licensing systems hunters in the Hoosier state would welcome. Both states have moved away from weapon and gender specific tags to simplify the licensing structure.
Meanwhile, Indiana, now a one-buck state, has clung to a licensing structure that was designed around hunters killing more than one buck. A single sex tag, buck only, for firearms almost makes sense when hunters could kill a buck in archery or muzzleloader as well. It’s been decades since a hunter could take more than one buck in Indiana. Yet the license structure from the Reagan administration persists.
Indiana soft-peddled the one-buck regulation implementation. Rather than sweeping reforms that made sense, they gingerly tip-toed around the issue, leaving licenses untouched. Eventually the bonus antlerless tags came to be. Either-sex tags remained either sex, and the overall structure was even more confusing. A second Band-Aid came in the form of the “deer bundle.” Again, rather than actually reshape the deer licensing structure for Hoosier hunters, the state employed a half-measure, further encumbering the system.
The Solution for the Indiana Deer License System
A memo to the DNR and NRC:
It’s 2016. Let’s move into the new millennia.
Eliminate weapon specific tags.
Eliminate gender specific tags.
Look to our neighbors in Ohio and Kentucky and learn from their licensing structures.
Require deer hunters to purchase a general hunting or hunt/fish combo license. ($17 or $25)
Introduce an either-sex deer hunting permit that entitles the holder to kill two deer, one of which may be antlered. The deer may be taken with legal hunting equipment for the given season. ($50)
Offer additional either-sex tags, again entitling the hunter to two deer taken with any legal weapon, in counties where the doe quota allows further hunting. ($20)
Weapon and gender-specific tags no longer represent the herd management strategies of the state of Indiana. Leaving a clunky and ridiculous deer licensing system in use shows a remarkable lack of leadership or management from Indianapolis.
For once, take decisive action to improve and simplify deer hunting in the state of Indiana.