Indiana Community Hunting Access Program
The Community Hunting Access Program (CHAP) is designed to increase hunting opportunities for white-tailed deer in urban environments and help alleviate human/deer conflicts. The program will provide partners with financial and technical assistance to administer hunting programs in their communities. Each partner will determine the location and time of the hunts and which hunters can participate. Partnering communities, homeowners associations, parks and other organizations must submit the CHAP application by March 31, 2019, to be considered for the program. An application form and instructions will be posted in the near future.
Deer Research Biologist
Indiana Department of Natural Resources
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 urban spaces. High densities of human dwellings, complex land ownership, perceived safety concerns, and other factors create a need for expert coordination and management of urban 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 to help hire CHAP Coordinator, administer the hunt, and purchase equipment and incentives for the program (tree stands, practice targets, etc.). The agreement with DNR Division of Fish & Wildlife is for up to two consecutive hunting seasons, with a maximum allotment up to $25,000 per season. CHAP Coordinators will work with successful applicants to develop a managed hunting program tailored to each community’s needs. Coordinators are trained and certified by DFW (see how CHAP Coordinators are certified by the DFW) in hunting safety, deer biology and public relations. Coordinators 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 efforts (one effort equals one day per hunter), 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?
With the assistance of CHAP coordinators, 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, with the help of a CHAP coordinator, may choose to implement a variety of strategies for acquiring participants for their CHAP hunt including using local hunters, implementing a reserved draw, or utilizing the Hunters Helping Farmers Program. The Hunters Helping Farmers Program is an annual program that connects prospective hunters with landowners seeking hunters. Hunters may sign up from July 1 through August 30 every year. Signing up for HHF does not guarantee placement with a landowner. Individuals interested in hunting opportunities should contact CHAP coordinators for more information
2018 CHAP Hunting Communities
At this time, the following communities are enrolled in the CHAP Program:
- Select Central Indiana Land Trust Inc. properties in Johnson and Marion 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
People interested in becoming a CHAP Coordinator must obtain the following pre-requisites to be considered:
- Any state-sponsored Hunter Education certification
- Any DFW-Approved Firearms Instructor Training. Examples include: National Rifle Association (NRA) Firearm Instructor Training, Indiana Hunter Education Instructor Academy, 4-H Shooting Sports Instructor Certification, etc.
- Any DFW-Approved Formal Deer Hunting Training. Examples include: NRA Hunter Clinic Instructor Program Certification, QDMA Deer Steward 1 Certification, etc.
- Provide name and birthdate for routine DNR background check
Once pre-requisites are met, potential CHAP coordinators must attend a one-day training program that covers topics such as suburban deer management options, media interaction, hunt site selection and planning, and how to recruit skilled hunters. After completion of the one-day training program, individuals are considered CHAP coordinators and may be listed as certified CHAP coordinators on the DFW 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.
Any person conducting coordination, development, or direct implementation of a CHAP hunt activity must be a certified CHAP hunt coordinator. Manual tasks in preparation for and during CHAP hunts can be completed by non-certified staff.
Certified CHAP Coordinators
Boonville, IN 47601
Chesterton, IN 46304
Indianapolis, IN 46234
Greenfield, IN 46140
Porter Co., IN
For communities that are new to white-tailed deer management in urban settings, the DFW has developed the Urban Deer Technical Guide that can be helpful. For more information about CHAP, contact a wildlife biologist or the Deer Biologist at (812) 334-1137.