INDIANAPOLIS — A report released earlier this month by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources shows that deer hunting is down in the state.
The Indianapolis Star reported that despite fears that a new state law that expanded the firepower allowed for hunting on private land would increase the number of deer kills, hunters harvested almost 120,000 deer last year, the lowest number since 2003.
High-powered rifles accounted for 37 percent of deer kills, up from 19 percent in 2015, and replacing shotguns as the most popular weapon to hunt deer.
Hunters can shoot deer from more than 100 yards away with high-powered rifles, as opposed to other rifles which may only be effective up to 50 yards, said Joe Caudell, a deer biologist at the state’s Department of Natural Resources.
“You want the deer to die quickly, to minimize pain and suffering,” he said.
The report also estimates that vehicle collisions with deer cost Indiana at least $119 million. There were 14,000 crashes that resulted in injury or at least $750 in property damage reported last year. Counties in northern Indiana had the most crashes.
Most crashes occurred between October and December, which is normal since that’s the time of the year when males will venture further to breed with females, Caudell said.
They’re also “a bit distracted and probably less cautious,” he added.