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The Journal Gazette

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Tuesday, October 01, 2019 1:00 am

Panel receptive to using airbows to hunt deer

NIKI KELLY | The Journal Gazette

INDIANAPOLIS – The Natural Resources Commission recently considered more than a dozen citizen hunting petitions – from airbows to baiting deer – rejecting most of them at its September meeting.

The commission is an autonomous board that guides the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

Sandra Jensen, an administrative law judge for the commission, said the reason citizen petitions were considered is because the board granted the DNR's Division of Fish and Wildlife the authority to review petitions received throughout 2017 and 2018 during its biennial review of the division's rules.

One petition that was quasi-successful would allow a crossbow with compressed air to hunt deer.

The fish and wildlife division plans to propose a change to administrative rules allowing this during deer firearm season – but not during archery season as requested.

The department said these “air-bows are more efficient than a regular long bow, recurve bow, or compound bow, and are not considered to be archery equipment. It provides a lightweight option and is quieter than a firearm. Therefore, in conclusion, the DFW does not see a need to prohibit the use of air-bows during the firearms season with the specifications proposed that can take a deer effectively as some of the firearms that are currently legal.”

Many other petitions, though, were turned down.

One would have allowed the baiting of deer. Current law prohibits the use or aid of bait to hunt deer. Bait such as feeders, salt licks and piles of apples must be removed at least 10 days prior to hunting deer in the area. It is legal to feed deer, but it is not legal to hunt over bait.

The DNR said bait encourages the congregation of deer in one spot, which could lead to the spread of disease from nose-to-nose contact and also doesn't provide fair chase.

“Additionally, research out of Michigan that has shown that allowing baiting for the entire season, though contributing to an increase in sightings of deer, did not increase the harvest of deer. Successful hunter harvest is not contingent on baiting,” the department found.

Another petition sought to allow use of a vehicle when hunting predators such as coyotes.

“The DNR does not wish to allow the hunting of predators from a vehicle because it does not provide fair chase for the animal,” the department said. “Regarding the ability to take coyotes efficiently, the DNR already allows coyotes to be taken year-round – landowners can take them on their own property without a permit and they can allow another individual to assist in taking them on their property with written permission at any time of year.”

There is also a hunting and trapping season for coyotes, and they can be taken with the use of bait and electronic calls. There are also no firearm restrictions.

nkelly@jg.net