Indiana hunters to take aim at healthy deer population

This year marks the 75th anniversary of Indiana DNR’s Division of Fish and Wildlife white-tailed deer reintroduction project. The opportunity to hunt white-tailed deer in Indiana represents a major success in wildlife restoration.

Indiana’s ’08 antlered deer harvest (50,845) was a 3 percent increase over 49,375 harvested in ’07. The antlerless harvest of ’08 (78,903) also increased over the 76,052 in ’07.

Deer hunters harvested 129,748 Indiana deer during the ’08 season, over 5,000 more than the 124,427 deer harvested during the ’07 season. Although the overall deer harvest for the last three years has averaged around 126,500, Stewart said, “2009 may mark the first year hunters kill more than 130,000 deer in Indiana. It’s only 252 more deer than last season.”            

The combined ’08 archery seasons yielded 26,921 deer. Muzzleloader rifle season hunters killed 15,154 deer. Firearms hunters killed 86,454 deer, 66.6 percent of the entire ’08 harvest.       

Hunters killed 17,418 deer on opening day of firearms season in ’08 and 13,746 on the second day. Opening weekend accounted for 36 percent of the total deer killed during firearms season. According to DNR wildlife chief, Wayne Bivans, this year’s opening weekend should be just as successful.

“Indiana’s deer haven’t experienced any serious threats this year. The weather has been fine, and we haven’t seen much disease. The overall deer population is healthy and thriving. I believe there is every reason to expect hunters to experience a successful opening weekend,” Bivans said.

The number of deer harvested in individual counties last year ranged from a low of 130 deer in Tipton County to 3,672 deer in Steuben County. Harvest exceeded 1,000 deer in 61 counties; exceeded 2,000 deer in 16 of those counties; and exceeded 3,000 deer in four of those counties.

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