Deer hunting in Indiana has never been better than it is today. The state is coming off it’s best two years of total harvest in history. 134,004 deer were taken in 2010-2011 and 129,018 during the 2011-2012 season. Hunting opportunities are at peak levels. In 2012, the Indiana DNR is creating one continuous archery season lasting almost 100 days. The state is also allowing anyone to hunt with crossbow during archery season for the first season ever. Public hunting land isn’t as abundant in Indiana as many other states. However, good hunting can be found… especially to those willing to put in some effort. Here are a few of the best bets for public land deer hunting in Indiana.
Hoosier National Forest
At over 200,000 acres, Hoosier National Forest is Indiana’s largest piece of public land. Hoosier National Forest is made up of four different major parcels. It is a popular hunting destination but you can find solitude if you’re willing to lay down some boot leather. The Deam Wilderness Area is within the property and stands as Indiana’s only remaining wilderness area. The habitat is diverse with oak & hickory forest covered ridges and ravines as well as prairie and bottom lands.
Harrison-Crawford State Forest
This 24,000 acre parcel of state forest was established in 1932. Most of the acreage is rugged hardwood forest. The Ohio River runs along the southern portion of the forest and the Blue River bisects it. Rich, river bottom habitat is a big factor in producing quality whitetails on the property. A boat or canoe can help you escape the crowds when hunting Harrison-Crawford State Forest.
Pigeon River Fish and Wildlife Area
This 11,000+ acre property is in La Grange and Stueben counties. Those are two of the top counties in the state for both total harvest and buck harvest. Pigeon River Fish and Wildlife Area(FWA) is really a long, narrow parcel along the flood plain of the Pigeon River. In addition to the river bottom habitat, there are also several impoundments and wetlands. Like the state and national forests above, there are various privately owned parcels within the property, so bring a map along. 44 primitive camp sites are also available for those wishing to sleep where they hunt.
Other locations to consider include Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge, Greene-Sullivan State Forest, Kankakee FWA, Martin State Forest, Pike State Forest, Splinter Ridge FWA, Sugar Ridge FWA, and Versailles State Park. Keep in mind, many of these properties have special regulations. Contact regional offices for specific information before going afield.