INDIANAPOLIS — Hunters took advantage of new equipment regulations and extra hunting dates to harvest a record 136,248 deer during the 2012 season, according to data the Indiana Department of Natural Resources gathered from designated check stations and from a recently implemented online and phone reporting system.
The total harvest represented a 6 percent increase over the 2011 season’s harvest and topped the previous record of 134,004 deer set in 2010.
Key regulation changes implemented in 2012 included making crossbows legal equipment for all licensed hunters during archery season; adding a special late antlerless season in designated counties from Dec. 26 to Jan. 6; extending the urban zone season to run continuously from Sept. 15 to the end of January; and allowing youth hunters in the two-day youth season to take whatever the bonus antlerless quota was in the county where they hunted. Archery season also increased by seven days with elimination of the traditional one-week break between early and late segments.
Crossbow hunters took 8,452 deer, or 6 percent of the overall total. That was an increase from 1,091 deer, or 1 percent, reported in 2011, when crossbows could be used in early archery season only by people with a disabilities permit or by any licensed hunter in late archery season.
Hunters using archery equipment tagged more deer in 2012 (27,580) than they did in 2011 (26,715) or 2010 (27,186).
Youth hunters bagged 3,587 deer, up 55 percent from 2011, and the new special late antlerless season accounted for 10,091 deer.
The total harvest was made up of 45,936 antlered deer and 90,312 antlerless deer. The proportion of reported antlered deer in the harvest (34 percent) is the lowest in Indiana’s history, while the antlerless total was the highest.