COMMENTARY

Outdoors: Deer season may extend

If a new regulations package is approved by the Natural Resources Commission this summer, Hoosier bow hunters will get an additional 15 days in the field.

That proposal is among several others on which the DNR seeks public opinion. The proposed changes will be discussed at public hearings held in Anderson and Mitchell, Ind., June 10.

Northern Indiana sportsmen can voice their opinions or suggestions online at nrc.IN.gov/2377.htm or in a letter to Natural Resources Commission, Indiana Government Center North, 100 N. Senate Ave., Room N501, Indianapolis, 46204. All comments must be received by June 13.

The regulations package is slated to go before the NRC for adoption on July 16, but officials could not say whether the changes would go into effect this fall.

Other proposals pertinent to Michiana include:

Deer: A new primitive muzzleloader season that would start the first Monday in January and continue for six consecutive days.

Bass: Adds a 12-15 inch slot length limit for bass at Big Long Lake in LaGrange County (five bass bag limit) with not more than two bass over 15 inches. The DNR has documented an overabundance of small bass in the lake which limits fishing quality and threatens to negatively impact a very good bluegill fishery.

Walleye: Adds a special 16-inch, two-fish limit for Wall Lake in LaGrange County. The change is designed to develop a walleye fishery and help combat a stunted, slow-growing bluegill population.

Whitefish: Allows no more than 12 whitefish to be taken per day. Whitefish catches are becoming common along Lake Michigan’s shoreline and there currently is no bag limit.

Small game: Modifies the rabbit season into a single statewide season beginning Nov. 1 and ending Feb. 28. The season for public and private land would be the same. The proposal also would require squirrel hunters to wear hunter orange beginning Nov. 1.

Quail and pheasants: Modifies the north/south boundary of the bobwhite quail zones by making I-74 the dividing line to fit both climate and research/monitoring data. This would allow for an earlier start to the quail season (Nov. 1) and give small game hunters an additional weekend to hunt prior to the deer firearms season.

Changes would subtract two days from the season in the south (Nov. 1- Jan. 10) and reduce the bag limit in the north to four (north quail season would run from Nov. 1-Dec. 15). Pheasant season dates would change to be concurrent with the quail season in the north zone.

Ground blinds: If the hunter is required to wear hunter orange to hunt a species of wild animal, then a ground blind used by that hunter would also have to have hunter orange if used from a half-hour before sunrise to a half-hour after sunset during the deer special youth season, firearms season, muzzleloader season, new primitive muzzleloading season, and special antlerless only season.

Hunting equipment: Allows a “draw-loc” device to be used with archery equipment when crossbows are allowed during the archery season.

The proposal removes the ban of over-and-under rifle-shotguns and specifies that crossbows cannot be used in the archery season from Sept. 15 through Sept. 30.

Nuisance animals: Allows private property owners to take a nuisance mute swan on their own property without a permit.

Migratory birds: Exempts Eurasian collared doves from the species for which a person must register through the Harvest Information Program and adds non-toxic shot requirement for hunting mourning doves on state properties. Eurasian collared doves would not count against the individual daily bag limit if the head and at least one wing are left on all harvested doves while in the field.

For more details on these and other proposals, visit dnr.IN.gov/fishwild/2362.htm.

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