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Indiana Community Hunting Access Program

urban hunterThe 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. Communities, homeowners associations, parks and other organizations must submit the CHAP application by March 31, 2019, to be considered for the program.

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 that will 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 DNR Division of Fish & Wildlife may be for up to two consecutive hunting seasons, with a maximum allotment up to $25,000 per season. 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 utilizing 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 (ex. 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 (reduced resident complaints/deer-vehicle collisions below a certain threshold, target hunter effort per harvested deer, etc.)
  • demonstrate that their program will have an impact on a community-wide scale

How is the outcome reported?

Agreements are Sept. 15 of the first hunting season through Jan. 31 of the second hunting season. 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 Division of Fish & Wildlife that allows hunters to register for deer hunting opportunities. Landowners, golf courses, parks, land trusts, farmers, communities participating in the 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.

2019 CHAP Hunting Communities

After 2019 funding has been awarded, participating CHAP communities will be listed here.

Past participates 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.

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 Division of Fish and Wildlife website. For more information, please email Megan Dillon, south region urban biologist at mdillon@dnr.IN.gov or Jessica Merkling, north region urban biologist at jmerkling@dnr.IN.gov.

Trained Coordinators

Steve Morris
Kokomo, IN 46901

John Neumann
Delphi, IN 46923

Robert Rudisill
Boonville, IN 47601

John Sullivan
Chesterton, IN 46304

Jim Wilson
Indianapolis, IN 46234

Rusty Fields
Greenfield, IN 46140

Ryan Rodts
Porter Co., IN

Kyle Cross
Greene Co., IN

Eric Lowe
Indianapolis, IN 46259

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 Megan Dillon, south region urban biologist at mdillion@dnr.IN.gov or Jessica Merkling, north region urban biologist at jmerkling@dnr.IN.gov.