DEAR FELLOW INDIANA DEER HUNTERS HUNT DEER!
The 2005 deer hunting season is upon us, and I hope it will be a successful one for Hoosier hunters. We have a robust deer herd producing quality animals and memorable hunting experiences for those of us that go afield. Last year we harvested 123,058 deer, a 15% increase over the 2003 harvest.
I'm writing today because the DNR needs your help. Successful deer management in Indiana requires individual hunters and landowners join the DNR in addressing the concern of an expanding deer herd. In several areas of the state, the deer population has grown to push the limits of what the habitat and society can support.
Sport hunting is the only effective method for controlling the deer numbers within biological and social limits. Since the days of Teddy Roosevelt, conservation has been a shared responsibility between professional wildlife managers and the hunting public. Without hunters controlling the growth of the deer herd, serious consequences may occur in the form of deer-vehicle collisions, urban deer problems, crop damage complaints or disease outbreaks.
What am I asking you to do? That's easy. We would like to encourage hunters to do exactly what they enjoy doing, hunt deer! The DNR has increased limits on antlerless deer in many counties. I urge you to harvest as many antlerless deer as you and your family can use, while staying within the legal harvest quotas. I am also asking that you help us recruit new hunters and bring back hunters that have dropped out of the hunting community. If you have a friend or a youth that has not hunted, take them out. Create a positive image of hunters and show that you are passionate about our sport.
Deer hunting is not just about trophy antlers or meat. It is also about science, biology and resource management. The goal of the Indiana deer management program is to maintain a healthy deer herd at a level that provides hunting and viewing opportunities while minimizing deer-vehicle accidents, agricultural crop damage and other deer-human conflicts. Deer hunters need to help us achieve these goals for the benefit of our deer herd and society as a whole. If these goals are achieved, good hunting opportunities will be around for Hoosiers to enjoy for years to come. I'd like to ask you to do something else. Just as Indiana's deer harvest management is a joint effort between individual hunters, landowners and the DNR, management of the herd's health must also be a joint effort.
Fortunately, the Indiana deer herd is generally very healthy and sick animals are rare. Occasionally a deer acting unusual or appearing sick will be seen by a hunter. We ask every hunter to assist us by watching for and reporting any deer that appear unhealthy. Contact us through the deer hotline (812-334-3795) or by calling your local conservation officer, who is available through the county sheriff's office.
Finally, we're trying something new this season with our southern Indiana hunters. The DNR and Department of Correction (DOC) have found a unique program. Based on a similar effort in Iowa, hunters in and around the counties of Clark, Henry, Washington, Harrison, Floyd, Scott, Jefferson, Switzerland, Ohio, and Dearborn, will have the opportunity to donate an antlerless deer to the Indiana DOC via one of the participating processors. The list of processors is listed online at www.dnr.in.gov\processors.html. This pilot program will run on November 12 and 13. Processors will not accept deer after that first weekend of firearms season. In exchange for the donation, the hunter will receive a coupon from the DNR for a replacement antlerless deer license at a reduced price of $14.00. The DOC will collect the deer and process the deer as part of an offender training initiative.
As part of this pilot program, all of the processed venison will be donated to the FIsH (Feeding Indiana's Hungry) initiative. FIsH is a public-private partnership that links hunger service providers, food producers, and processors from around the state. The Daniel's administration, through a proclamation by Lt. Governor Becky Skillman made this past National Hunger Awareness Day, has put its support behind this important effort. More information about FIsH can be found at their website, http://www.feedingindianashungry.org.
To avoid those long lines on November 11th, remember to buy your deer license ahead of time. Our new computerized Indiana Outdoor licensing system makes it easier than ever to purchase a license from more than 700 vendors statewide. Better yet, if you have Internet access and a printer, purchase your license online at www.in.gov/dnr/fishwild/licenses/index.html.
Management of our natural resources is a team effort. As DNR Director, I take this responsibility very seriously, and I know as fellow hunters, you do too. Thanks for your help and remember to be safe out there.
See you in the woods,
Kyle J. Hupfer, Director