By State Sen. Erin Houchin (R-Salem) 

Saturday, Nov. 18, marks the beginning of deer-hunting season for licensed firearms hunters in Indiana. 

Many hunters are aware of some confusion regarding what equipment is available for deer hunting this year, and may be unsure of what is legal to use. Last session House Enrolled Act 1415 was passed with the goal of expanding the allowable rifles on private property.

A drafting error in this legislation inadvertently resulted in a ban on all rifles for hunting on public land, regardless of caliber. This was not the intent of the General Assembly, and would have had enormous consequences for law abiding hunters across our state. 

When this error came to light, I immediately sent a letter to Gov. Holcomb requesting that he take action to correct this provision before the start of hunting season. 

In response to my letter, the Department of Natural Resources issued an emergency rule earlier this month, along with a press release stating, in part, “Rifle cartridges that were allowed in previous years on public land for deer hunting are allowed on public land again this year during the deer firearms season,” “ the rifle cartridge must fire a bullet of .357-inch diameter or larger, have a minimum case length of 1.16 inches, and have a maximum case length of 1.8 inches if used on public land. Full metal jacketed bullets are illegal.”

I am proud to support hunters in the Hoosier state, and will work with my colleagues on finding a long-term solution to HEA 1415 in the coming legislative session.

Deer firearms hunting season closes on Dec. 3. For more information about the emergency rule, general safety guidelines and regulations, please visit

If you have any thoughts or questions on these or other issues, please contact me by email at [email protected] or by phone at 800-382-9467.