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Deer harvest expected to drop, but not by much

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Hoosier hunters can expect another productive deer season this fall and winter, but state officials look for a drop in the overall deer harvest.

Hunters set a record during the 2012 season, bagging 136,248 deer — the fourth record harvest in the last five years.

But don’t expect that trend to continue this season, said Indiana Department of Natural Resources deer research biologist Chad Stewart.

“It wouldn’t surprise me if it was down a little this year,” Stewart said. He doesn’t expect the drop-off to be large, though.

The 2013 deer hunting season began Sunday with the opening of the urban deer zone season. Archery season starts Oct. 1, and the firearms season starts Nov. 16.

The main reason Stewart thinks a dip in the harvest will occur is because last year hunters killed a record number of does. As a result, reproduction was likely down this year compared to past years, he said. Reducing the deer population to a more balanced level has been the state’s goal.

Changes to hunting regulations that went into effect in 2012 were geared toward that goal. They included extending archery season, allowing crossbows for all archery hunters and creating a license bundle that saved hunters money.

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