The Hoosier state is generally not widely known as a hunter's paradise, but that's a misconception. There are plenty of great opportunities for hunters, and what struck us immediately is the excellent access hunters have to all needed information, and assistance. This is particularly true of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Division of Fish & Wildlife (DNR), which oversees all hunting in the state. Then there is the wide panoply of this website's guide-partners who can fill in the blanks for specifics regarding any particular type of hunting, area and regs that may affect your planning. So, we'd suggest that you first visit the excellent Indiana DNR website (http://www.in.gov/dnr/), get your general info from that, and then dovetail that with contacting one of our guide-partners. That way you'll get the best of both worlds. Also, as we always do there is a complete and detailed listing of all the Indiana DNR offices, with contact information for each. So wherever you want to hunt, you'll be able to get the info you need quickly and easily.
We commend the staff of the Indiana DNR for their cooperation in providing the info. And you'll note that this article is relatively short and concise, because there are no arduous regulations or special complex caveats. Everything is pretty straightforward.
The estimated wild turkey population in Indiana is between 120,000 and 130,000 birds. That's a real nice number. The spring 2011 season harvest was 11,669 birds.
There are very good season lengths for wild turkey hunting in Indiana. The regular spring season begins in April and lasts 19 days, plus there is a two-day youth only weekend just prior to the regular season. Residents and non-residents are allowed. The spring season bag limit is one male or bearded bird (editor's note: Don't forget you're going to find a hen turkey with a beard here-and-there). The spring season is open in all 92 Indiana counties with permits sold over the counter or online. There is no lottery.
There is a two-day youth only weekend for hunters 17 and younger.
The fall archery season (including crossbows) is statewide and this year runs from October 1-28 and December 8-January 5. The fall firearms season (shotgun and muzzleloader) varies by county (either October 17-21 or October 17-28). The bag limit is one bird of either sex.
Legal hunting equipment for wild turkeys in Indiana include 10, 12, 16 or 20-gauge shotguns with pellets of size, No. 4, 5, 6, 7 or 7 ½. Also, muzzleloading shotguns of the same gauges and pellet sizes. Archery equipment and crossbows are legal, too.
Shooting hours are generally limited in fish and wildlife areas and some other state public recreational areas to one half-hour prior to sunrise to 12 noon. Otherwise the rest of the state and other more extensive public hunting areas (e.g. federal and state forest lands) and all private land, the shooting hours are from one half hour prior to sunrise to sunset.
Hunter education in Indiana is required for anyone born after December 31, 1986 (this date is in force as of the date that this is written in 2012, and probably may vary yearly, so make sure you contact the Indiana DNR to find out the effective date as of the time you are going to hunt), with the exception of an Apprentice License. Indiana offers an Apprentice License to allow someone to try hunting without having to first complete a hunter Ed class. If a person is required to take a hunter Ed based on date of birth, he/she may buy up to three Apprentice Licenses before having to meet the hunter education requirement to obtain a regular license.
Indiana is to be applauded for its regulations, which make it easier for the disabled to hunt. There are special permits required, and the DNR website can be consulted for the procedures. The three most common persons with disabilities hunting permits issued are: Hunting from a vehicle, using a vehicle for access (no hunting from a vehicle). There are also special licenses available for disabled vets at reduced rates.
The Indiana DNR estimates that about 5% of the land in the state is publicly owned. That means about 95% is privately owned. Turkey hunting is available on most of the state's fish and wildlife areas, state forests, and the Hoosier National Forest. Special hunts are available on state parks, military bases and national wildlife refuges. Sadly, the Indiana DNR noted: "We have no co-op programs to speak of." That refers to the programs that states like Texas and New York have which provide certain additional rights and perqs to private landowners who opt to offer enhanced hunting opportunities for the public on their land. We believe these programs are absolutely terrific and have been extremely successful in providing greatly enhanced hunting opportunities in the states that have them.
And as far as infrastructure, The Hoosier State offers it all, in all areas, both privately and publicly. You'll want for nothing in Indiana, and the people (we know, we've been there) are extremely hospitable, warm, and gracious. There is a long hunting tradition in Indiana, and it is alive and well and every improving.
Indiana DNR contact information:
Indiana Department of Natural Resources
Division of Fish & Wildlife
402 W. Washington St., Room W273
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204
Bob Porch 8163 Oak Tree Dr. Rensselaer, IN 47978 (219) 285-2704 Email: bporch@dnr.IN.gov
Linda Byer Kankakee FWA 4320 W. Toto Rd. PO Box 77 North Judson, IN 46366 (574) 896-3572 Email: lbyer@dnr.IN.gov
Jason Wade J. Edward Roush Lake 517 N. Warren Rd. Huntington, IN 46750 (260) 468-2515 Email: jwade@dnr.IN.gov
Tom Hewitt North Region Headquarters 1124 N. Mexico Road Peru, IN 46970 (765) 473-9324 Email: thewitt@dnr.IN.gov
Kent Hanauer Wilbur Wright FWA 2239 N. SR 103 New Castle, IN 47362 (765) 529-6319 Email: khanauer@dnr.IN.gov
Dean Zimmerman Prophetstown State Park 4112 E. SR 225 West Lafayette, IN 47906 (765) 567-2152 Email: dzimmerman@dnr.IN.gov
Rick Peercy Prophetstown State Park 4112 E. SR 225 West Lafayette, IN 47906 (765) 567-2152 Email: rpeercy@dnr.IN.gov
Josh Griffin Atterbury FWA PO Box 3000 7970 S. Rowe St. Edinburgh, IN 46124-3000 (812) 526-4891 Email: jgriffin@dnr.IN.gov
Randy Millar 14619 W. State Rd. 48 Jasonville, IN 47438 (812) 665-9384 Email: rmillar@dnr.IN.gov
Shannon Winks Driftwood Fish Hatchery 4931 S. – 250 W. Vallonia, IN 47281 (812) 358-2253 Email: swinks@dnr.IN.gov
Nate Yazel Wilbur Wright FWA 2239 N. SR 103 New Castle, IN 47362 (765) 529-6319 Email: nyazel@dnr.IN.gov
Bob Montgomery Glendale FWA 6001 E. – 600 S. Montgomery, IN 47558 (812) 644-7382
Email: bmontgomery@dnr.IN.gov District 13
Mark Bennett 562 DNR Rd. Mitchell, IN 47446 (812) 849-4586 Email: mbennett@dnr.IN.gov