Proposal shot down

The Indiana Natural Resources Commission removed a proposal from a recent fish and wildlife rules package that would have expanded the use of high-powered rifles for deer hunting.

The rule received preliminary approval from the commission in September; but after a six-month public comment period and three public hearings, it did not move forward.

“I don’t understand it,” Bill Konway of Leroy said. “Some say there is a greater chance of accidents happening with rifles; but unless I’m missing something, those accidents are not happening in other states using rifles.”

Firearms-related accidents are one area of concern, but again it seems public sentiment comes down to shooting trophy bucks. A big concern for many hunters I have spoken with is the extended range of high-powered rifles, which allows hunters to shoot deer from a much greater distance.

Some think this lessens the challenge of the hunt.

Another fear is the concern that legalizing high-powered rifles would lead to an increase in poaching. I don’t think this is a valid concern because poachers don’t follow rules anyway. If someone is going to shoot a deer illegally, they certainly aren’t concerned as to whether or not the firearm they are using is legal.

I doubt the high-powered rifle debate in Indiana is going to end anytime soon, as both sides of the debate have valid points. For now, we’ll just have to wait and see what the future holds while sighting in our shotguns, muzzleloaders and pistol-cartridge rifles.

The commission did adopt some changes, including the closure of the ruffed grouse season, the addition of the 28-gauge shotgun as a legal firearm for deer and allowing hunters who place a blind or tree stand on state or federal property to mark the stand with either their name, address and telephone number or their DNR-issued identification number.

Another measure taken up by the commission is prohibiting the use of dogs to chase wild pigs. This is important because wild pigs are becoming much more of a problem in southern Indiana.

As counterintuitive as it seems, hunting is not the answer to eliminating feral hogs. Scientists emphasize the importance of discouraging hunting because once a culture of hog hunting is established, then hog hunters will want hogs on the landscape. A desire for hogs impedes the need to eradicate them from our state.

That said, if you see a feral hog while you are out hunting, kill it. There are no seasons or limits. If you see hogs rooting up a field, kill them. Chasing them with dogs just helps push them into new areas.

And lastly, the commission reduced the daily bag limit of bobwhite quail to two at DNR properties north of Interstate 74 and four at DNR properties south of Interstate 74. The plight of the bobwhite quail continues. We are living through the decline of one of our country’s proudest game birds.

See you down the trail.