Close Menu

Indiana Community Hunting Access Program

urban hunter

The Community Hunting Access Program (CHAP) is designed to increase hunting opportunities for white-tailed deer in communities and help alleviate human/deer conflicts. The program will provide partners with financial and technical assistance to administer hunting programs in their communities. CHAP allows each community partner oversight and flexibility to determine the location and time of the hunts and which hunters can participate. To be considered for the CHAP, communities, homeowners associations, parks, and other organizations are generally required to complete and submit applications in March*.

*Program selection is dependent upon funding.

Email to:

Jessica Merkling
North Urban Biologist
1353 South Governors Drive
Columbia City, IN 46725

Regulated deer hunting is the most practical and cost-effective method for deer herd management and has been implemented successfully in Indiana for many years; however, for many reasons, deer hunting is relatively uncommon in areas with large numbers of people. High densities of human dwellings, complex land ownership, perceived safety concerns, and other factors create a need for expert coordination and management of community hunts. Deer management is an ongoing process and there is no one-time fix for conflicts.

What does the grant fund?

Successful applicants will receive funding meant to offset the costs for administering a CHAP deer hunting program. Funding will be initiated at the conclusion of the administered deer hunting program and will be based upon the submission of a final report, as outlined below in the “How is the outcome reported?” section. CHAP agreements with the DNR Division of Fish & Wildlife (DFW) may be for one deer hunting season, with a maximum allotment up to $25,000. Recipients will need to provide a 25% acreage match for the total acres they offer for deer hunting opportunities.  CHAP will provide a dollar amount per acre for up to 75% of the acres identified on the application. Successful applicants will develop a managed hunting program tailored to each community’s needs. If coordinators are hired, they will work directly for participating communities.

How is the grant awarded?

The program's goal is to increase recreational opportunities by using hunters to lower deer numbers, thus funds will not be granted to support sharpshooting programs (see the Urban Deer Technical Guide for definitions of sharpshooting).

Grants will be awarded through a competitive process, with applications scored and ranked on a number of criteria below. The DFW will give priority to applicants who:

  • provide documentation of past and current human-deer conflicts (e.g. economic damage to property, deer-vehicle collisions, increasing complaints from residents, etc.) and include methods to continue monitoring these conflicts
  • are willing to allow hunter access on multiple dates and/or hunting locations throughout much of the deer hunting seasons
  • provide clear, measurable objectives and target goals for their deer management plan (e.g. reduced resident complaints/deer-vehicle collisions below a certain threshold, target hunter effort per harvested deer, etc.); and
  • demonstrate that their program will have an impact on a community-wide scale.

How is the outcome reported?

Agreements are Sept. 15 through Jan. 31 of each year. Within 30 days of the last hunt, grant recipients must provide the DFW with a written annual report detailing the results of each hunt supported by the grant. Results included within the written report will be listed within each signed agreement and include items such as number of hunting opportunities, number of deer harvested, progress toward goals, implications for future years, etc. Funds will be paid each year upon receipt of the report.

How are hunting opportunities allocated through CHAP?

Participating communities will determine the best method for allocating CHAP hunting opportunities on their properties. The hunter application and selection process may vary by community, depending on the community’s goals, objectives, and other factors. Communities may choose to implement a variety of strategies for acquiring participants for their CHAP hunt, including hiring hunt coordinators, using local hunters, implementing a reserved draw, or using the Deer Hunt Registry. The Deer Hunt Registry is a service provided by the DFW that allows hunters to register for deer hunting opportunities. Landowners, golf courses, parks, land trusts, farmers, communities participating in CHAP, and other land managers can use the registry to identify prospective hunters for their property. Signing up does not guarantee placement in a managed hunt or any other hunting. Individuals interested in hunting opportunities should contact participating communities for more information.

2021 CHAP Hunting Communities

At this time, the following communities are enrolled in CHAP:

  • Select Central Indiana Land Trust properties in various counties
    • CHAP hunt coordinators: Rusty Fields 317-714-2028 and Steve Morris 765-437-9114
  • Cordry-Sweetwater Conservancy District
    • CHAP hunt coordinator: Rusty Fields 317-714-2028
  • City of Bloomington
    • CHAP hunt coordinator: Ryan Rodts 517-937-7187
  • Wesselman Nature Society
    • CHAP hunt coordinator: Robert Rudisill 812-217-0649
  • Duneland Beach HOA
    • CHAP hunt coordinator: John Sullivan 219-688-8271
  • Indiana Oaks Golf Club
    • CHAP hunt coordinator: Steve Morris 765-437-9114
  • Town of Long Beach
    • Community coordinators: Paul Fithian 219-448-9114 and Kevin Flemington 219-878-7117
  • Save Maumee Grassroots Organization
    • Community coordinator: Scott Hamman 260-908-1759

Past participants of the CHAP program

Three CHAP communities were successfully funded in 2018. Cordry-Sweetwater Conservancy District, Central Indiana Land Trust at Oliver’s Woods Nature Preserve, and Central Indiana Land Trust at Laura Hare Preserve at Blossom Hollow made available 1,303 acres for hunter access, allowing 730 hunting opportunities.

Seven CHAP communities were successfully funded in 2019. Communities included Cordry-Sweetwater Conservancy District, Central Indiana Land Trust at Oliver’s Woods Nature Preserve, Central Indiana Land Trust at Laura Hare Preserve at Blossom Hollow, Bloomington Parks and Recreation Department, Duneland Beach Homeowners Association, Indiana Oaks Golf Club, and Wesselman Nature Society. These applicants made available 3,191 acres for hunter access, allowing for 1,057 hunting opportunities.

Six CHAP communities were successfully funded in 2020. Communities included Cordry-Sweetwater Conservancy District, select Central Indiana Land Trust properties in multiple counties, Bloomington Parks and Recreation Department, Duneland Beach Homeowners Association, Indiana Oaks Golf Club, and Wesselman Nature Society. These applicants made 3,353 acres available for hunter access, allowing for 843 hunting opportunities.

How can I be listed as a CHAP coordinator?

Communities may elect to employ the services of a hunt coordinator. As such, coordinators will be able to list their services on the DFW website. For more information, please email Jessica Merkling, north region urban biologist at jmerkling@dnr.IN.gov.

Trained Coordinators

Steve Morris
Kokomo, IN 46901

Robert Rudisill
Boonville, IN 47601

John Sullivan
Chesterton, IN 46304

Jim Wilson
Indianapolis, IN 46234

Rusty Fields
Greenfield, IN 46140

Ryan Rodts
St. Joseph Co., IN

Kyle Cross
Greene Co., IN

Eric Lowe
Indianapolis, IN 46259

Stephen Russ
Vanderburgh and Warrick Co., IN

Rick Bramwell
Madison Co., IN

Eldon Hojem
Greene, Lawrence, Monroe, Morgan, and Owen Co., IN

Norman Tucker
Monroe Co., IN

Branndon Castellano
Johnson Co., IN

Steve Wolter
Monroe Co., IN

Chris Fischvogt
Jennings Co., IN

More information

For communities that are new to white-tailed deer management in community settings, the DFW has developed the Urban Deer Technical Guide that can be helpful. For more information about CHAP, please email Jessica Merkling, north region urban biologist at jmerkling@dnr.IN.gov.

Upcoming Events

Upcoming Events

More Events

Top FAQs