March 23, 2016

Indiana, Deer Hunting, and Hand Wringing

Well, they finally did it.

The Indiana Legislature finally passed a bill that allows Hoosier deer hunters to use something other than limited pistol cartridges during firearm season.

A bit of background is in order, I think:

For as long as I can remember, hunters who choose to hunt with a rifle during firearm season (a two week window, roughly, from mid-November-ish to end of November) had restrictions placed on the type of cartridge they could use.

From the 2015-2016 Hunting and Trapping guide, here are the restrictions:

Rifles with cartridges that fire a bullet of .357-inch diameter or larger, have a minimum case length of 1.16 inches, and have a maximum case length of 1.8 inches are legal to use only during the deer firearms and special antlerless seasons. Some cartridges legal for deer hunting include the .357 Magnum, .38-.40 Winchester, .41 Magnum, .41 Special, .44 Magnum, .44 Special, .44-.40 Winchester, .45 Colt, .454 Casull, .458 SOCOM, .475 Linebaugh, .480 Ruger, .50 Action Express, .500 S&W, .460 Smith & Wesson, .450 Bushmaster, and .50 Beowulf. Full metal jacketed bullets are illegal.

So, in other words, the most popular cartridges that have the best and longest track record for taking whitetail -- like .270 Win or 30.06 or 30-30 were verboten.

The rational, at least as far as common knowledge goes, is that these rounds can travel a long distance, and given that there's typically a farm house or barn or other such dwelling every 1200 yards or so in Indiana, they didn't want a hunter to let loose a round, miss the deer, and have the bullet impact Ol' Man Walker's chicken coop.

But see, here's the place where that all falls apart.  MOST hunters are hunting from a tree stand.  That is, they are shooting from an elevated position towards the ground.  IF they miss with their 30-06, the bullet is going to impact the earth.

Second, there are no such cartridge restrictions on rabbit, squirrel, coyote, or any other critter that might be hunted in Indiana.  T'were I so inclined, I could take my Remington 700 BDL in 30-06 and go after squirrel.  Sure, I'd not get much meat from the hunt (squirrel tartar, anyone?), but it'd be LEGAL.

And, lastly, the original argument falls apart if one understands the ballistic properties of their cartridge.  Let's go back to my 30-06.

I have a box of 180 grain Winchester Power Max bonded ammo for my 700.  According to the ballistics chart provided by Winchester, for a rifle with a 100 yard zero, the bullet will drop 26 inchest at 400 yards, and 53 inches at 500 yards.

In other words, even if I'm shooting from a ground blind over flat corn fields, and I miss completely, my bullet will fall to the ground before it reaches Ol' Man Walker's precious chickens.  Unless, of course, I aim up and take a shot at a deer up on a ridge while I am below it... In that case, I'm breaking Rule 4 and heck even a .44 Mag is dangerous in that situation.

At any rate, the new rules allow deer hunters in Indiana to use .243, .30-.30, .30-06, and .308 cartridges, along with a generic ".300" (which could be a .300 WinMag, or perhaps .300 Blackout, which would mean I need to get moving and finish my 300 BLK AR-15 build...)

In the end, however, I suspect I'll continue to hunt deer as I have the past three years: With my crossbow and my Mossy 500 with the slug barrel.  Because, really, the place I hunt is fairly thick with trees, and the longest shot I'll have would be 100 yards, max, most of them would be inside 70 yards.  And if you can't hit a whitetail with a rifled slug barrel at 70 yards, you should be spending your time on the range, not in a tree stand.


Old 1811 said...

When I lived in Indiana, only shotgun slugs were legal for deer. The same was true in Illinois and the southern halves of Wisconsin and Michigan. The reason was as you stated, population. If you wanted to hunt with a rifle, you had to go to the northern (less populous) halves of Wisconsin or Michigan.
Your statement about bullet drop ignores bullet skip on frozen ground or water. Skips happen. There's a famous case from NYC in about 1972. A guy in a boat on Sheepshead Bay fired a .303 SMLE at a piece of trash floating on the water. The bullet skipped off the water, traveled three miles, entered the open rear window of a 1967 Camaro traveling 50 or 60 mph on the expressway, and killed the driver, a young female in her 20s.
Yes, I know it was a long time ago and it was a fluke. But physics never changes, and the girl is still dead and the guy still went to prison.
Something to think about when you apply Rule 4.

Old NFO said...

Agree with the last...LOL Most of the hunting I did in Arkansas was with a shotty too! :-)