Several Midwestern states have allowed hunters the use of rifles for many seasons to harvest deer. Kentucky and Tennessee are two just to name a few. While Illinois and Indiana in the past have “stuck to their guns” and only allowed shotguns, bows, pistols, and muzzleloaders; Indiana has decided to jump on the band wagon and allow rifles to join the array of weapons allowed to harvest deer in the state. This has been an ongoing debate in Indiana for several years. As the policy makers in Indianapolis have come under fire for the increased number of vehicle to deer accidents and the rising numbers in the deer population, they finally caved in and allowed rifles to be used for the first time in the 2007 deer season.
If you are a fellow Hoosier like me, your eyes may have grown the size of softballs when you heard this news. I have been waiting for years to be able to hunt with my 30.06 in Indiana. On numerous hunts I saw nice quality bucks just outside of shotgun range, whishing that I was allowed to hunt with my rifle. After further researching this new information, I was quickly disappointed. I would not be using my 30.06 this year and possibly for several years in the future. The Indiana legislature put restrictions on the size of the ammunition as well as the firearm used in Indiana. The bullet must not be smaller than .357 in diameter (excluding my rifle). The cartridge itself must be no shorter than 1.16 inches and no longer than 1.625.
When a hunter starts to look at those stipulations, it really limits the type of rifle and cartridge size he can use. Some of the most popular cartridges this year for Indiana rifle hunters are 357 magnum, 41 magnum, 44 magnum, 45 Colt, and the 44 Special. In other states the most popular are 30.06, 7 mm magnum, 308, 300 Win among others. Why the difference? I don’t have the answer. I am no specialist when it comes to these cartridges but every research I have seen limits the accuracy of the ammunitions (allowed in Indiana) to roughly the same distance as a shotgun slug whereas; rifles allowed in other states greatly increases the distance a deer could be harvested at. Following this logic, there is arguably no advantage to the new found use of rifles in the state of Indiana.
Law makers have simply broadened the spectrum of allowable firearms to be used during deer season this year. I cannot see how this so called “advantage” will help the overpopulation of deer in the state nor minimize the number of deer/vehicle collisions. The deer that are harvested this year with rifles theoretically could be harvested with a shotgun slug due to the limited range of the rifle ammunitions allowed. Therefore, there is no advantage to using these rifles. Law makers need to step up and allow the use of ALL rifles in the state if this is the direction they want to move in accomplishing their goals.