The Indiana Department of Natural Resources says the number of hunters using high-powered rifles to harvest deer increased by about 92 percent last year. The DNR attributes the change to a law passed last year.
More than 44,000 Hoosiers used a rifle to hunt deer in 2016. That’s compared to just over 23,000 in 2015. The use of shotguns and muzzle loaders decreased as well.
DNR Statewide Deer Biologist Joe Caudell says the change is due to a new law passed last year that allows hunters to use high-powered rifles when harvesting deer on private land.
“And there was a pretty large switch from the type of equipment that was used, so not necessarily more hunters coming in and using rifles or shooting more deer with rifles, but just the fact that a lot of people switched from maybe shot guns and muzzle loaders to using high-powered rifles,” Caudell says.
The total deer harvest was down about 4 percent from the previous year. The DNR says it may need a few years of data to identify new patterns in the deer harvest.