"Bayou Bill" Scifres
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Deer-Pen Hunting On General Assembly Agenda Again
Copyright © 2006 by Bill Scifres

As most conservationists and outdoors enthusiasts suspected, legislators are kicking the age-old, deer-pen hunting thing around again in the Indiana General Assembly.

Last week in this space we told you about House Bill (HB), 1152, a seemingly unthreatening bill that would prohibit hunting deer and other exotic animals in high-fence enclosures. 

We noted, in view of the fact that the author of that measure is a known proponent of deer-pen-hunting, that conservationists and sportsmen of the state feared that the bill could be changed later to legalize such hunting.

Now there is another bill in the hopper that makes no bones about it’s purpose--legalize deer-pen hunting.

It is HB 1349 and it has been assigned to the House Natural Resources Committee. Basically, HB 1349 would change the name of “shooting preserves,” (as they now are known by Indiana law), to “animal hunting preserves.” 

HB 1349 also would permit the propagation and hunting of game birds and privately owned deer and elk on properties with a minimum of 80 acres. The present shooting preserve law requires between 100 and 640 acres.

Those from the camp opposed to deer-pen hunting say HB 1349 will be heard by the House Natural Resources Committee on Wednesday, January 18 . . . late information from a reliable source indicates the time for the hearing will be 10:00 a.m. 

In view of the facts that the director of the Department of Natural Resources has banned such hunting in a directive that will be effective at the end of the current session of the legislature, and that there currently are court proceeding underway to determine this authority, it would seem apropos for the legislature to shelve the concept of deer-pen hunting until the issue has been clarified by legal processes.

DNR Director Kyle Hupfer last August issued an order that would end deer-pen hunting as of the end of the 2006 session of the Indiana General Assembly. His action supposedly ended the highly-questioned practice of hunting deer in enclosures, but a pending court suit brought by the owner of a Southern Indiana deer-pen hunting facility questions the authority of the DNR director in the matter.

How this jurisdictional thing will be decided by the courts is a matter for speculation at best. But the adoption of legislation in 1965 that reorganized the Department of Natural Resources clearly charges the DNR director with protecting natural and wildlife resources.


The North Zone season on ducks ended last December 17. The seasons on ducks in South and Ohio River zones will end at sunset Friday.

The aspect of these facts that has waterfowlers from north and south gnashing their teeth will be seen in the report of the January 11 report on the Division of Fish and Wildlife’s weekly waterfowl survey.

That latest survey counted a total of 6,650 mallards, and 562 black ducks on North Zone properties. At the same time, South Zone properties involved in the survey counted 4,865 mallards and 290 blacks.

Still, for all that can be said about the way waterfowl hunting seasons play out, when those setting season dates several months in advance, dealing with a state that is roughly 300 miles from stem to stern, and highly-varied weather conditions, it is easy to be wrong.

All columns, essays, and photos are copyrighted by Bill Scifres and may not be reproduced in any form without prior permission from the author.  For reproduction permission and media usage fees, contact: Bill Scifres, 6420 East 116th Street, Fishers, IN 46038, E-mail: billscifres@aol.com

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