Deer hunting season is in full swing, but to some, the myriad of regulations and restrictions for deer hunting have led them to not pursue their dream of bagging the big one. Even finding a place to hunt may seem a bit of a challenge, as more and more private landowners are not allowing hunting on their properties, or have leased it to specific hunters that pay a premium for the privilege.
But don’t despair, there are ample opportunities in our local area to bag the big one, and organizations to help you get started too.
Requirements for the new hunter
Purchasing a deer hunting license if you were born before Dec. 31, 1986 requires going to Walmart or Outdoor World-Sportman’s Mall in Washington and showing your ID and putting down your money. They can also be purchased at county clerks offices and Department of Natural Resources (DNR) locations or from the DNR website and other retail outlets.
Each deer license cost $24 and you are allowed to harvest 1 deer with each license. With a firearm license you can only harvest an antlered deer, additional antlerless deer can be harvested with the purchase of bonus license at a cost of $15 (but not on the public DNR sites in Daviess County). You are permitted to buy one (1) Firearms License, two (2) Archery or Crossbow licenses, one (1) Muzzleloader license, and ten (10) Deer Reduction Zone licenses. There are also options for bundles and deer reduction hunts.
For the new hunter born after December 31, 1986, there are a few more steps you must take to get a deer hunting license. You must take a hunters education course either in person or online. You must be over 12 years old to take the online course. Or you can get an apprentice license that lets you hunt with a licensed hunter over 18 years old. You can get this license for 3 separate years then you have to take the hunter’s education course. You must be escorted by the licensed hunter at all times if you go the apprentice route. To help the youth hunter a special two day deer hunting season was set aside just for them and their escort. This season ran from September 29-30 of this year.
Greg Mundy is the Daviess County Coordinator for Hunter Education.
“We put on four Hunter Education courses per year in Daviess County,” said Mundy, adding that two are held in the spring and two in the fall at the Simon J. Graber complex and the Washington Conservation Club.
Hunter orange is required for all deer hunters during Youth, Firearm, Muzzleloader, or Special Antlerless Firearm season. Hunter orange must be worn at all times during the hunt, including walking to and from the hunting location. A good rule of thumb from the DNR is: if it’s any kind of firearms season, and you have your hunting weapon with you, you need to be wearing hunter orange.
There are many more specific rules and regulations and safety tips for deer hunting that can be found at the DNR website. These include specific license exemptions for hunting on your own land, types of firearms and ammunition that can be used, and license requirements for out-of-state hunters.
Local hunting organizations
The Graveyard Hunt Club is a local organization dedicated to introducing youth to the outdoors through fishing and hunting events.
Cameron Ritchie of Cannelburg is a member of the club.
“We want to see more youth involved in hunting and fishing activities and enjoying the outdoors,” he said, adding that the club has teamed up with conservation officers and local law enforcement to sponsor events. They have sponsored youth turkey hunts, dove hunts and archery classes where they taught tree stand safety, hunting ethics, and archery classes.
A woman and girl pheasant hunt was in the works at Glendale, but has been postponed to possibly next season, according to DNR sources. At these types of events guns and ammunition are provided, all at no charge. More information about this club and their activities can be found on their Graveyard Hunt Club Facebook page.
Pass it on Wilderness Skills is an organization started by John Dosch of Washington.
“I started Pass it on Outdoor Skills School to pass on my 45+ years of hunting and woodsman-ship knowledge to the next generation to keep our heritage alive,” said John Dosch, adding that he has been mentoring kids since the 80s.
Dosch, who is a certified instructor for survival skills training, said that he teaches 5 to 6 survival classes per year.
“I have been a deer hunter for 46 years,” said Dosch, adding that his hunting classes start in the summer when he teaches firearms safety, scouting, and even processing game.
“In hunting season we will get up in a deer stand to hunt,” said Dosch, adding that they try to practice conservation harvesting of deer where they try to cull the older deer from the population.
“Friends of Kids has been an organization that has been a real benefit to area kids, and I when they asked if I would volunteer to mentor youth, I readily agreed,” said Dosch, adding that he has taught hunting and survival skills to many of these youth.
To learn more about this organization you can visit the Pass it on Wilderness Skills Facebook page.
When to hunt.
There are different times of the year for different types of deer hunting, depending on the choice of your weapon. Archery season started the 1st of October and runs until January 6, but don’t forget that you need to take off the camouflage and wear hunter orange once gun season starts, which began on November 17 and runs until December 2, followed by muzzleloader season that is from December 8 until December 23.
Where to hunt.
If you don’t own property to hunt on and don’t know any private landowners that allow it, don’t fret, there are public lands in Daviess County that have ample deer populations to choose from.
In Daviess County there are three public sites under the supervision of Glendale Fish and Wildlife Area.
The Glendale Fish and Wildlife Area south of Washington has 8117 acres of area to choose from. Some sites are off limits to hunting, but there is signage to indicate these areas. There is a kiosk at the office to sigh-in.
White River Bend Wildlife Management Area has 710 acres to hunt in. This area opened to the public in 2012 and is located in a bend of the White River north of the old Wheatland bridge and on the west side of the Bennington Levee. To get there take Edwardsport road north out of Washington to 150 N. turn left and go approximately 4.3 miles to a small parking area on the right side of the road. The area is right before River Pt Road not far from the old bridge. There is signage and a kiosk in the parking area for sigh-in. Sign-in is done by filling out a form at the kiosk in the parking area. These forms are basically one day passes to hunt at the site.
Oak Grove is a 60 acre site just west of Washington by Oak Grove Cemetery. From Washington take Oak Grove Road to the cemetery, turn right and go approximately .4 miles and there is a small parking lot on the left with a sign-in kiosk. There is not yet a sign marking this area. Sigh-in is the same as at White River Bend.
Note: These three areas don’t honor the county bonus antlerless licenses.
“This year’s deer hunt seems to be going fairly well,” said Rob Sullender, the property manager at Glendale Fish and Wildlife Area, adding that there is a push by the DNR to get more people involved in hunting and fishing. This program is called R3 which stands for recruitment-retention-reactivation. Nationally hunter and angler numbers peaked in the 80s and have declined in the ensuing years.
“Different activities and events are scheduled to try to get more people hunting and fishing,” said Sullender, adding that they have been partnering with local organizations, such as Graveyard Hunt Club, to encourage more hunters.
“Scouting is important part of hunting,” said Sullender, adding that practice and safety are of utmost importance.
According to Joe Caudell, Deer Research Biologist for the DNR, there have been 554 deer harvested this season in Daviess County as of last Sunday; 276 bucks, 55 button bucks and 223 does.
You can check out the DNR website for all the regulations, license fees and types, public hunting sites, scheduled activities and safety tips.
Remember to be safety conscience—don’t make a life altering mistake by carelessness or unethical hunting practices.