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Indiana shares results from online deer hunting survey

From the Indiana Department of Natural Resources

-- Two out of three people responding to a recent online survey said they use both archery and firearms to hunt deer, and 91 percent said they would be willing to harvest one or more additional antlerless deer if money were not an issue. The survey was conducted by the Indiana Division of Fish and Wildlife of the Department of Natural Resources.

Respondents also expressed strong support for a variety of license packages, including a sportsman’s bundle that would include one archery, one firearms, one muzzleloader and one bonus antlerless license for $72. To purchase each of those licenses separately under the current setup would cost $96.

The survey, conducted by the DNR Division of Fish & Wildlife, is part of a process to review and revise Indiana’s deer management strategy. After meeting with a stakeholder committee, the DFW asked deer hunters and landowners to complete the online questionnaire pertaining to deer season structure and equipment use.

A total of 9,516 responses were received.

“Because online surveys pose several problems in obtaining scientifically valid results, this questionnaire will be best served as a general indicator for gauging public support or opposition for various deer regulation alternatives,” said Mark Reiter, director of the Division of Fish & Wildlife. “The DFW will be using this information, along with input from a deer stakeholder committee and public input given as part of the administrative rule process, to promulgate a deer rule package.”

The questionnaire was available online from April 19-25. Questions were formatted based on suggestions and recommendations from the deer stakeholder committee to meet the objective of focused deer herd reduction in a strategically targeted manner that would more adequately balance ecological, recreational and economic needs of the citizens of Indiana.

Before being placed online, the questionnaire was reviewed by a social scientist from Purdue University’s Department of Forestry and Natural Resources to ensure the integrity of each question.

Slightly more than 93 percent of the survey respondents said they were Indiana deer hunters while 4.6 said they were not, and just over 2 percent left the question blank.

Approximately 5,300 respondents identified themselves as resident license buyers; 2,600 as lifetime license buyers; 700 as landowners exempt from license purchase; 300 non-resident license buyers; 50 youth license buyers, and 10 military-exempt license holders.

Additional survey results showed that:

        * Eight of 10 respondents said they use shotguns to hunt deer; 74 percent use archery equipment, 71 percent muzzleloader, 20 percent handguns, 19 percent rifles, and 10 percent crossbows. Of those respondents, 27.5 percent   said they use only firearms, and nearly 5 percent said they use only archery equipment.

        * Total responses favored the current opening date for firearms season. Moving the opening date one week later  ranked second, with strong opposition to moving it two weeks later.

        * Total responses strongly favored no change to the structure of firearms and muzzleloader seasons, and strongly opposed any choice with fewer days to hunt.

        * Total responses supported all options for a strategically targeted antlerless-only firearms season, with most  supporting a two-day October season.

        * Total responses supported expanding the use of crossbows in the early archery season for hunters age 65 and older. Use in urban deer zones ranked second, followed by expansion into firearms season, and expansion into all of the  early archery season.

        * Respondents expressed strong support for several proposed license packages. The greatest support (75 percent) was for a reduced-cost bonus antlerless license available for early purchase, followed by a “sportsman’s bundle” mentioned previously (71 percent approval). Other options were two bonus antlerless licenses for $34 (66 percent approval) and three bonus antlerless licenses for $49 (58 percent approval). Fifteen percent of respondents did not support any of the license packages.

        * Asked how many additional antlerless deer they would be willing to harvest if money were not an issue, nine percent said zero, 17 percent one, 32 percent two, 15 percent three, 9 percent four, and 17 percent more than four.

        * Respondents identified the cost of additional licenses as the most likely reason they do not harvest an additional deer. Other factors influencing antlerless harvest include processing costs, and no need for an additional deer.  Items not perceived to be a hindrance are lack of hunting time, deer herd ability to support additional take, and meat storage capacity.

For more information: Chad Stewart, Division of Fish and Wildlife, (812) 334-1137. Comments/questions may be sent to

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