- Seek permission to hunt on private land by formal request. You can print a Private Land Permission Form and either mail it to the landowner or take it directly to him or her. Visiting the landowner in person is more friendly and shows a stronger commitment than sending a mailed request and may increase your chances of getting permission. There are many different reasons why a landowner may refuse a request. Regardless of their decision, always be respectful. Remember, your manner could impact similar opportunities for future hunters.
- If you acquire permission to hunt on private land, always be respectful of the property. The best rule of thumb is to leave the land better than you found it. Report any signs of disturbance to the landowner, pick up trash if you see it, and leave no trace of your own. Leave any gates exactly how you found them, open or closed. Do not shoot near or toward any homes. Even if the shot is too far away to be dangerous, the sound can be disruptive and discouraging to neighboring landowners who may be considering whether to open their land to hunters. Pick up your shells before you leave.
- Know the boundaries in which you have permission to hunt. Never shoot or chase a deer on a property without explicit permission. Doing so is not only rude, it’s illegal in Indiana. If chances are high that your hunting spot will put a wounded deer on neighboring property you have not been given permission to hunt, either find another spot or get permission from that property’s owner before you hunt.
- Never use your scope to identify people or anything besides your target species. It is a good idea to have a small pair of binoculars for such uses so approaching persons do not ever have a gun pointed at them.
- Be sure of your target and what is beyond it; do not shoot in the direction of homes or vehicles.
- Maintain distance between yourself and adjacent hunters; do not crowd someone if he or she has already taken a spot. Hunting spots are first-come, first-served. It’s always a good idea to stake out multiple spots in advance.
- If given permission to hunt on someone else’s land, or in someone else’s preferred hunting spot, don’t assume that invitation extends to others. Explicitly ask the landowner or hunter if the permission is just for you, or if other people you know are welcome. If given permission to invite others, it’s always polite to ask how many.
- Be considerate of other hunters and outdoor enthusiasts as you hunt. Loud noises from talking, running an ATV, or dragging your deer can ruin another person’s hunting or general outdoor experience. Wait until other hunters leave if you need to do something that makes noise.
- Carcasses of deer and other wild animals that are lawfully taken cannot be dumped in streams or other bodies of water. Dumping dead deer and other wild animals in a waterway is considered littering and is a criminal offense punishable by a fine. Rotting carcasses in a waterway can also affect water quality for those downstream. Carcasses should not be burned because this can cause air pollution. Carcasses shouldn’t be left in the open for scavengers and others to see without permission from the landowner. We recommend all discarded carcasses and unwanted animal parts be bagged, placed in your trash, and sent to a landfill.
- Serve as a positive ambassador for hunters and hunting culture to those who are unfamiliar with or undecided about hunting. Cover your harvested deer with a tarp and transport them discretely. Do not display your deer in the back of your pickup truck with the tailgate down. Be wary of how non-hunters perceive you. Don’t do anything, intentionally or unintentionally, that might convert them into anti-hunters.
- Most important, value your hunting excursion by the total experience. It is easy to estimate the value of your effort by how many deer you took or how big the trophy was, but hunting is about the total package. You don’t need to take your total bag limit to have a great experience. Show restraint. Take only what you need. Take a friend, if appropriate. Participate in youth development and teach children ethical and responsible hunting. If given the opportunity, take the time to complete a Deer Hunter Survey for the DNR to improve the experience for you and for future generations.