You don’t have to leave Indiana to experience a special hunt.
Each year, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources offers several different reserved hunts. These hunts are limited. Applications are currently being accepted.
State parks, fish and wildlife areas, national wildlife refuges and military bases offer some of the best habitat in Indiana for wildlife. Many of these properties are so habitat rich that in some cases wildlife flock to them in numbers greater than the landscape can handle. Hunting is used as a tool for managing populations to ensure the right balance is struck.
In some cases, such as on state parks, hunting is not allowed at any other time of the year besides during these special hunts, and for many years hunting might not be allowed at all in specific parks. On some of the other properties, like fish and wildlife areas, there are more people wanting to hunt than there is room available, so a drawing is used to ensure a fair opportunity to participate is given to all.
This year, state park deer reduction hunts are being conducted at Clifty Falls, Fort Harrison, Harmonie, Lincoln, McCormick’s Creek, Ouabache, Pokagon, Potato Creek, Prophetstown, Shades, Shakamak, Tippecanoe River, Turkey Run and Versailles. There are two different state park hunt dates — Nov. 16 and 17 and Nov. 30 and Dec. 1.
There are special deer hunts on Muscatatuck and Big Oaks national wildlife refuges, and another deer hunt at Camp Atterbury. I participated in a hunt at Camp Atterbury a few years ago and was really impressed with the number of deer I saw, both while in my tree stand and in the back of hunters’ trucks.
Since you can’t go out and scout ahead of time at Camp Atterbury, you have to play it by ear. I took a climbing tree stand with me. Once I was assigned my area, I parked where I was told and hiked out into the woods. I found a nice draw between two ridges. The draw had a small creek flowing through it. I guessed that it would be a travel route for deer spooked by other hunters. I was right. I had 14 does and yearlings come by me that day, but never the buck I was after.
The special reserved hunts offered by the DNR aren’t just for deer. There are also turkey, waterfowl and upland bird hunts.
For Hoosier hunters living in the southern half of the state, pheasant hunting is a foreign affair. There are game bird habitat areas in Benton, Newton and White counties offering hunts in November and December.
Special dove hunts are available at Blue Grass, Jasper-Pulaski, Kankakee, Kingsbury, Pigeon River and Winamac fish and wildlife areas. Most of these hunts take place Sept. 1-2.
Waterfowl hunters can apply for up to five property and date combinations at Brookville, Goose Pond, Hovey Lake, Kankakee, Kingsbury, LaSalle, Willow Slough, Province Pond and Monroe Lake.
In order to apply for any of the special hunts, you must have a valid license for that species. You can fill out your application online. The closing dates for the different hunts vary. State park deer hunt applications must be in by Aug. 24.
For more details on all the available hunts and to apply, visit in.gov/dnr/fishwild/5834.htm
See you down the trail.