State clarifies rifle laws ahead of deer season

INDIANAPOLIS (WANE) Indiana’s Department of Natural Resources has issued an emergency rule ahead of the 2017 deer hunting season that aims to clarify the kind of rifle cartridges hunters can use to hunt deer on public and private property.

The emergency rule, signed Friday by the state’s DNR, says:

Rifle cartridges that were allowed in previous years on public land for deer hunting are allowed on public land again this year during the deer firearms season, the reduction zone season (in zones where local ordinances allow the use of a firearm), special hunts on other public lands such as State Parks and National Wildlife Refuges, and special antlerless season. This means that the rifle cartridge must fire a bullet of .357-inch diameter or larger, have a minimum case length of 1.16 inches, and have a maximum case length of 1.8 inches if used on public land. Full metal jacketed bullets are illegal.”

The emergency rule comes three weeks after the DNR issued a correction to its 2017-2018 Hunting and Trapping Guide after State Rep. Sean Eberhart from Shelbyville authored a bill that prohibits the use of any kind of rifle to hunt deer on public property, including state parks.

That law was designed to put on the books what high velocity rifle rounds hunters were allowed to use on private property. In response, the DNR changed its guidebook to explain that hunters could no longer use rifles when hunting deer on public land.

Deer season in Indiana starts November 18.

For more information on rifle requirements for deer hunting on private land, visit and click on “Equipment.”