Legal Screw-Up Hoses Indiana Rifle Hunters

There are those people out there who take the belief that the government can solve in ill. Rather than delve into the realities of the problems, they simply push legislators to pass laws that will make everything better. It’s like they can’t see the government ever screwing anything up.

But when they do, boy do they screw it up.

Officials in Indiana were forced to issue a ban on sportsmen taking deer with rifles on state and federal land after a law that was supposed to expand the practice instead cut it short.

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources issued the clarification to this season’s hunting regulations last week banning the use of rifles by deer hunters on public lands in the state, a practice that had been both legal and popular in the past. Hunters using a muzzleloader, shotgun or handgun can still use public lands as can rifle hunters on private land.

The mistake came in the language of a bill meant, ironically, to expand hunting opportunities by amending Indiana’s rifle season for deer hunting to allow the use of more rifle calibers. Instead, the act only applied to private land and eliminated public options.

“In an attempt to address last year’s rifle changes, the law was changed to something that likely differed from the intent of many involved,” said DNR in a statement. “Unfortunately, that sometimes happens in lawmaking. That fact was noticed recently, long after the guide was published, and there is no mechanism for changing the law until next year. The online guide has been updated to reflect the change. Without making any promises, we are working with legislators on changing this law for next year, but for this year, rifles can be used to hunt deer only on private property.”


Honestly, anyone who has followed the political process should recognize just how easily this could happen. For example, a new law is written that wants to expand what people can use for a given purpose. To do that, the bill generally calls for striking the current law and replacing the text with new text.

Most of the time, this happens just fine. This time, unfortunately, something went wrong. Lawmakers appear to have failed to note quite what they were striking. Especially since the bill appears to have removed quite a bit.

The biggest surprise isn’t that something like this happened, but that it hasn’t happened more often.

The good news is that now lawmakers know what happened and have the opportunity to fix that. It would have been helpful of the state’s DNR had noticed it sooner and could have called attention to the problem soon enough for it to have been fixed, but this is what it is.

So, if you’re hunting on public land in Indiana, note the issue and make the necessary adjustments before you go out if needed. It would suck to get arrested for rifle hunting because you didn’t realize your state’s legislators screwed up royally. But it might also be a good idea to call them up and give them an earful as well.

Dec 02, 2021 7:30 PM ET