- Associated Press - Saturday, March 26, 2016

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) - A new law allowing Indiana hunters to use high-powered rifles is drawing concerns about safety and cutting too deeply into the state’s deer herd.

Hunters will be allowed to use such rifles when hunting on privately owned property for the first time when two-week deer firearms season opens in November. Historically, shotguns have been used by most Indiana deer hunters, with the only other kinds of long arms allowed being muzzle loaders or rifles with handgun-caliber bullets.

Officials at the state Department of Natural Resources did not support a proposal to allow using high-powered rifles last year after the proposal drew opposition.

Indiana Deer Hunters Association spokesman Doug Allman told the South Bend Tribune (https://bit.ly/1Rpmx3F ) that today’s high-powered rifles can hit a deer a half-mile away and that the bullet would keep going if it misses.

“Rifles are allowed to be used for some animals in this state but you don’t have 250,000 hunters out there on opening weekend (of deer firearms season) shooting, sometimes at running animals,” Allman said.

South Bend deer hunter Dave Holcomb isn’t a fan of the new law. He’s concerned about safety with Indiana’s flat terrain and the long distances high-powered rifles can shoot. But he’s more concerned that hunters will reduce the deer population too much.

“The whole idea of high-powered rifles seems asinine to a lot of guys,” Holcomb said. “I don’t see why they feel this is a necessary change.”

The bill’s author, Republican state Rep. Lloyd Arnold of Leavenworth, said he isn’t concerned about safety or reducing deer herds by too much.

“We aren’t increasing the season, we aren’t increasing the deer count you can take,” Arnold said. There are already muzzle loaders, he said, that can shoot over 300 to 400 yards.

The bill directs the Department of Natural Resources to study the change’s effects in 2020, Arnold said. He vowed to go back on the change if critics’ concerns are confirmed.

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Information from: South Bend Tribune, https://www.southbendtribune.com

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