Open season is just a few weeks away for most of the US. It's an exciting time of year for veteran hunters and beginners alike. But before heading out on your first hunt, make sure you're familiar with Indiana hunting laws and regulations.
Most seasoned hunters in Hoosier State may be aware that hunting laws evolve on almost a yearly basis. The governments’ objective for these changes is to address public safety. Mainly, for the benefit of the hunter as well as the hunted.
Hunters In Indiana Must Know About Indiana Hunting Laws
It's a must to keep up to date on Indiana hunting laws and regulations before heading out on your first hunt. Studying your state's hunting laws might be a bit time consuming, and we know you're impatient to get out there and start shooting. But breaking the law and having to pay a fine can put a serious damper on your hunting season.
Keep reading to learn about Indiana hunting laws including dates, which animals you’re allowed to hunt, which weapon you're allowed to use, how to get a hunting license, regulations to skin game animals with a hunting knife and much more.
1. Deer Hunting in Indiana
- Muzzleloader: December 3, 2016 – December 18, 2016
- Archery: October 1, 2016 – January 1, 2017
- Reduction Zone: September 15, 2016 – January 31, 2017
- Special Antlerless: December 26, 2016 – January 1, 2017
Deer hunting hours: 1/2 hour before sunrise to 1/2 hour after sunset.
Bag limit: 1 deer per license (with the exception of the deer license bundle, youth hunt/trap license or lifetime license.
All harvested deer must be checked within 48 hours of harvest at an official deer station or online at www.wildlife.in.gov
Please see the full calendar and other species hunting game seasons and their specific bag limits by reading about it here.
a. Centerfire Rifles during firearms season:
- Uses a bullet of .357-inch diameter or larger
- Has a minimum case length of 1.16 inches
- Has a maximum case length of 1.8 inches
- Can be used on public and private land
- Legal cartridges:
- .357 Magnum; .38 – 40 Winchester; .41 Magnum; .41 Special; .44 Magnum; .44 Special; .44-.40 Winchester; .45 Colt; .454 Casull; .458 SOCOM; .475 Linebaugh; .480 Ruger; .50 Action Express; .500 S&W; .460 S&W; .450 Bushmaster and .50 Beowulf.
- Full metal jackets are illegal. It is legal to use only during the deer firearms, youth, reduction zones (in zones where local ordinances allow the use of a firearm), and special antlerless seasons.
- Must be 10-, 12-, 16- or 28-gauge or .410 loaded with slugs or saboted bullets.
- Rifled slug barrels are permitted
- Combination rifle-slugs are allowed.
c. New Legal Rifles:
- Minimum barrel length – 16 inches
- Cartridge case length: at least 1.16 inches
- Bullet diameter of cartridge is .243 inches (same as 6mm) or .308 inches (same as 7.62mm) or in between .243 and .308 are not legal.
- other than muzzleloading handguns, must have a minimum barrel length of 4 inches
- must fire a bullet of .243 inches in diameter or larger.
- Minimum length cartridge case (w/o the bullet): 1.16 inches long
- Must not be a rifle that has a barrel less than 18 inches.
- Legal cartridges: .357 MAgnum, .41 Magnum, .44 Magnum, .44 Special, .45 Colt, .45 Winchester Magnum, .45 Long Colt, .357 Herrett, .35 Remington.
- New state law: 10mm Auto and 40 S&W cartridge
- Must be .44 caliber or larger
- Loaded with a single bullet: at least .357 caliber or larger.
- loaded only on the muzzle
- multiple barrel long guns
- Muzzleloading handguns are allowed
- Must be single shot
- .50 caliber or larger
- bullets at least .44 caliber
- Minimum barrel length of 12 inches (from base of the breech plug minus tangs and other projection to the end of the barrel, including the muzzle crown)
- Long bows, compound bows or recurve bow and arrows
- With a minimum pull of 35 pounds
- Bows drawn, released or held by other means than hand or hand-held releases
- Using metal-edged, napped flint, obsidian or chert broadhead tips arrows
- Crossbows may be drawn, held and released by a mechanical device with a mechanical safety and a pull of at least 125 pounds.
For more detailed information on what other hunting equipment you can use, click here.
2. Duck Hunting in Indiana
Regular Duck Season:
- North Zone:
- October 22, 2016 – December 11, 2016
- December 24, 2016 – January 1, 2017
- Central Zone: October 29, 2016 – November 6,
- October 29, 2016 – November 6, 2016
- November 19, 2016 – January 8, 2017
- South Zone:
- October 29, 2016 – November 6, 2016
- November 26, 2016 – January 15, 2017
Daily bag limit for ducks:
- 6 ducks (includes any combination of goldeneyes, ruddy ducks, ring-necked ducks, buffleheads, gadwalls, long-tailed ducks, scoters, teal, wigeon and shovelers.)
- Additional Restrictions:
- Mallards: 4/day including not more than two females.
- Wood Ducks: 3/day
- Pintails: 2/day
- Redheads: 2/day
- Scaup: 3/day
- Black ducks: 1/day
- Canvasback: 2/day
- Mottled duck: 1/day
- Mergansers (separate from the duck limit): 5/day including not more than two hooded mergansers.
Possession limit (ducks and mergansers): Three times the daily bag limit.
Shooting hours: one-half hour before sunrise to sunset. Shooting hours at some
To learn more about other species of waterfowl, you can read through the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.
Restrictions for Method of Take
Hunters are required to use approved nontoxic shot while hunting all waterfowl.
It is illegal to take migratory waterfowl using a shotgun:
- Larger than 10-gauge
- Capable of holding more than three shells
- Unless plugged with a one-piece filler that can only be removed when disassembling the gun.
Familiarize yourself more with Federal and State waterfowl hunting and baiting regulations by clicking here.
3. Turkey Hunting in Indiana
a. Fall Firearms:
- October 19 – 30
b. Fall Archery:
- October 1- 30, 2016
- December 3 – January 1, 2017
c. Spring Season:
- April 22 – May 10, 2017
d. Youth Hunt:
- April 2 – May 15
For other game species hunting seasons, start hunting here.
Turkeys can only be hunted with the following:
- 10-, 12-, 16- or 20-gauge
- with pellets size No. 4, 5, 6, 7 or 7 ½
- Nontoxic shot
b. Muzzleloading Shotgun:
- Not smaller than 20-gauge
- Not larger than 10-gauge
- Loaded with pellets with size No. 4, 5, 6, 7 or 7 ½
- Combination loads using shot sizes other than the abovementioned is prohibited.
d. A crossbow
For additional information on hunting hours and season bag limits, click here.
Licenses and Permits
Annual licenses and stamp privileges are valid from the 1st of April of 2016 to the 31st of March 2017. There are also different types of hunting licenses in the state of Indiana that are made available for hunters throughout the year. These licenses can be purchased either online, in person, or by mail.
If you have more questions you can go through the FAQ's on deer hunting here.
For resident and non-resident licenses and fees, apprentice hunting licenses, lost licenses and more, click here.
The Indiana Department of Natural Resources shares this video as a gentle reminder to every hunter out there.
As long as you are knowledgeable with Indiana hunting laws and regulations, and abide by them to the letter, you and your buddies will surely enjoy every minute of the hunting season.
Hunt safe and hunt proud!
Do you want to know more about hunting laws and regulations in different states? You can read it here.