By Jack Spaulding
The Indiana Department of Natural Resources has issued a response to some of the questions rising from House Enrolled Act 1231, a new law that came out of this year’s General Assembly that legalized certain rifles for deer hunting beginning later this year. The DNR has received numerous questions regarding the legislation. Most have to do with calibers and cartridges allowed under the new law.
I have to say the DNR did a commendable job of sorting out what’s legal and what’s not, but you still have to be very careful choosing your weapon for hunting state-owned or state-controlled property.
The bill authorizes five calibers by name now legal to hunt with and outlines cartridge specifications also acceptable in rifles but only on private property. It also makes “pistol” approved cartridges legal to hunt with in rifles on both private property and public lands.
Even with new legal deer hunting calibers capable of taking grizzly bear and buffalo, there are still some cartridges illegal to hunt with on both public or private land.
I can’t tell you why, and I don’t have a clue, but don’t knock the dust off of your Govt. .45-70, .270 Winchester, .38-55 Winchester, or .444 Marlin as the cartridges are not approved.
House Enrolled Act 1231, passed by the Indiana General Assembly and signed into law in March, allows some additional rifle cartridges to be used only on private land during the firearms season. The new legal cartridges include, but are not limited to, the .243 Winchester, .30-30 Winchester, .300 AAC Blackout, and .30-06 Springfield.
Additional requirements under the legislation are:
• The rifle must have a barrel length of at least 16 inches.
• The rifle cartridges must have a cartridge case length of at least 1.16 inches.
• The rifle cartridge must fire a bullet with a diameter that is .243 inches (or 6 mm); or .308 inches (or 7.62 mm). No cartridges with a bullet diameter between .243 and .308 are legal (such as the .270 Winchester).
• A hunter may not possess more than 10 such cartridges while in the field.
Rifles using pistol cartridges allowed in previous years may be used to hunt deer on both private and public land.
Additional cartridges legal under HEA 1231 include but are not limited to the following:
• 6 mm-06
• 6 mm BR Remington
• 6 mm PPC
• 6 mm Remington
• .240 Weatherby
• .243 Winchester
• .243 Winchester Super Short Magnum
• .30 Carbine
• .30 Herrett
• .30 Remington AR
• .30-06 Springfield
• .30-30 Winchester
• .30-40 Krag
• .300 AAC Blackout (.300 Whisper)
• .300 H&H Magnum
• .300 Remington Short Action Ultra Magnum
• .300 Savage
• .300 Weatherby Magnum
• .300 Winchester Magnum
• .300 Winchester Short Magnum
• .300 Remington Ultra Magnum
• .308 Marlin
• .308 Winchester
• 7.62×39 mm
• 7.62×54 mmR.
There are other cartridges meeting the law’s specifications, but some do not. A partial list of cartridges not allowed under HEA 1231 includes the .270 Winchester, .38-55 Winchester, .444 Marlin, and .45-70 Government.
The law is scheduled to expire after the 2020 deer season. At that time, the DNR will submit an impact report to the governor and the General Assembly.
The new law restricts the number of cartridges for a deer hunter to be 10 or fewer. Keeping the stipulation in mind: What about the coyote hunter carrying a .270 Winchester and a box of 20 shells hunting on public land during deer season?
Unfortunately, it is going to be the individual hunter who will have to carefully wade through the technicalities to make sure he or she stays on the right side of the law when selecting the equipment for deer hunting.
I can only imagine the headaches and misunderstandings awaiting our conservation officers charged to uphold the natural resource law.
If you have questions, my best advice is to call the local conservation officer to make sure your area of hunt, whether public or private, and your selection of rifle and cartridge are legal.
I guess I’m officially an “old timer” — as I can remember when the choice of weapon for the deer firearms season was as simple as a shotgun loaded with slugs or a muzzleloader!
Jack Spaulding is a state outdoors writer and a consumer of RushShelby Energy living along the Flatrock River in Moscow. Readers with questions or comments can write to him in care of Electric Consumer, P.O. Box 24517, Indianapolis, IN 46224; or email firstname.lastname@example.org.