CORYDON, Ind. (WDRB) – The Indiana Department of Natural Resources is trying to quickly spread the word that hunting deer with a rifle is now illegal on public land. The “firearms deer season” starts Nov. 18.

“What people need to bear in mind is that those center-fire rifles are only legal for use on private property,” said Conservation Officer Jim Hash with DNR District 8.

Hash said the Indiana General Assembly passed an amendment to the rifle statute this year. So hunters can no longer use rifles when hunting deer on public land, which includes both state and federal property.

The amendment only affects rifles on public property. So it is still legal to use a muzzleloader, shotgun or handgun on public land.

Allen Edwards, who owns Gun World, a local sporting goods store in Corydon, said the situation as frustrating.

“The feeling is we probably could’ve been a little more prepared if we knew about this in April, May or even June,” Edwards said.

He said many customers are confused because he feels like no one is quite sure why the law had to change.

Edwards said this change will impact hunters who do not have private land or lease land to hunt on. Individuals or families who hunt on public property might need to buy new equipment in order to make sure they’re not breaking the law. Edwards said it’s a monetary expense many weren’t planning on making in so little time before the season starts.

“If you’ve been using something else that now all of a sudden is not legal, you’re going to be in a rush to get something else in place so that you can have something legal to hunt with,” he said.

Edwards said it could also make it more difficult for kids to go hunting. A rifle is a common first firearm for a child to learn to hunt with.

“This may create an impact where dad or uncle has to go out to get new guns for his kids to be able to hunt now,” he said.

If someone is caught violating the amendment, it would be considered a misdemeanor. That person could be fined or face jail time.

Since the 2017-2018 Hunting and Trapping Guide had to be printed before the amendment was passed, the information regarding the use of rifles on public property is incorrect. A notice of the rule change was recently emailed out from DNR.

For more information on rifle requirement for deer hunting, visit DNR’s website and click on “Equipment.” Hash suggested if anyone has questions, reach out to your local DNR District headquarters.

The same amendment that banned rifles on public land also allowed some additional rifle cartridges to be used on private land. The cartridge case length must be between 1.16 and 3.0 inches.

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