Back-to-back record years for Indiana deer hunters and the fact regulations are unchanged give DNR deer management biologist Chad Stewart reason to believe hunters are in for another banner year in 2010.
"I'm anticipating another top-five all-time harvest," Stewart said. "I would not be surprised if we exceeded 130,000 total deer or achieved a new record."
In 2009, hunters bagged a record 132,752 deer -- 3,000 more than the previous high mark set in 2008.
Although hunters have had the opportunity to pursue deer in the urban zone season since Sept. 15, and during the youth two-day season Sept. 25 and 26, deer hunting began in earnest when the early archery season opened statewide Oct. 1.
"I'm anticipating a successful early archery season due to the early corn harvest," Stewart said.
The early archery season accounted for 21 percent of the total harvest in 2009, or 27,818 deer.
The early archery season extends through Nov. 28. During this season, a hunter can take two deer -- either an antlered and antlerless deer, or two antlerless deer -- but a separate license is required for each deer taken.
Archery hunters also can purchase bonus antlerless permits designed to target female deer as a fundamental approach to controlling white-tailed deer populations. In addition to the basic bag limits, hunters can use bonus permits in any county. There is no statewide limit, but quotas are assigned to each county ranging from A to 8. Go to www.in.gov/dnr/fishwild/files/fw-Bonus_A... to find a map showing bonus antlerless quotas by county.
Bonus antlerless licenses may not be used in an "A" county prior to Nov. 25.
Many Indiana DNR properties (e.g., fish and wildlife areas, state forests, recreation areas, reservoirs, etc.) do not allow use of bonus antlerless licenses because they receive sufficient hunting pressure to keep deer populations in check and do not require additional harvest of deer. Contact the property manager where you plan to hunt for information.
Nearly 118,000 Hoosiers receive emergency food assistance each week from a food pantry, soup kitchen, or other agency served by the member food banks of Feeding Indiana's Hungry, Inc., the state food bank association.
Hunters and non-hunters can do something about it by supporting the Sportsman's Benevolence Fund.
State legislators established the DNR-managed Sportsman's Benevolence Fund in 2008 as a way of providing financial support to meat processors who accept hunter-donated deer that are packaged as ground venison and distributed to food banks around the state.
Hunters donated 1,100 deer last year to affiliated programs like Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry (fhfh.org) for an estimated 55,000 pounds of venison, or enough for 220,000 quarter-pound servings of high-protein, low fat meat.
FHFH has organized nearly 50 participating meat processors this year. A list can be found at www.IN.gov/dnr/fishwild/6205.htm.
There are three ways to contribute to the SBF:
* Donate online at www.sbf.IN.gov
* Purchase a $5 Sportsman's Benevolence Fund commemorative pin (for a limited time, purchase of a 2010 pin includes a 2009 pin at no extra charge)
* Make a voluntary $1 contribution when purchasing fishing, hunting or trapping licenses.