Along The Trail 4-7-16


Editor’s Note: ‘Along the Trail’ is a weekly column written by David Hewitt of Switzerland County; and covers all things dealing with the outdoors, from hunting and fishing to woodsmanship.


The hot topic today around Indiana hunting circles is the newly enacted high powered rifle law that will go into effect this coming deer season. I touched on this topic a few weeks ago in another article, but among deer hunters, this subject won’t die and I expect that we’ll have to go through a few seasons before we know if rifles are a good fit here in Indiana or not.

I’ve heard all the arguments on both sides of the fence when it comes to centerfire rifles in our state’s deer season and although there are points that I agree with from both camps, my resistance to it has always been:

(1) Why do we need them during deer season and who pushed it..and

(2) We as hunters are continually making hunting easier and easier, eroding what in my opinion, hunting is all about…

Regardless of how I feel on the topic, rifles are here and deer hunters are going to have to live with them, like it or not.

But, my biggest beef with the entire issue isn’t the fact that high powered rifles will be the new norm.

My concern is with how the law was enacted and came to be. In 2015, a public opinion poll was taken of hunters and non-hunters alike, about bringing high powered rifles into Indiana’s firearms season. Although it wasn’t a landslide, the majority of sportsmen and women polled were opposed to adding rifles and the Department of Natural Resources, the Natural Resources Committee and the legislature listened to the will of the people and shot down the rifle idea, no pun intended.

However, in 2016, the politicians side stepped the voters and silently slid the bill through the legislature, piggy backed with some other bills without so much as really listening to public comment. The fact that the DNR remained in the shadows and kept silent on the issue speaks volumes to me.

After the rifle proposal defeat in 2015, the political process was put in motion and the DNR backed out of the public conversation and let the elected officials take the ball and run with it. I’m not saying that the higher ups in the Department of Natural Resources were complicit in enacting the rifle law, but they certainly washed their hands of it and turned a blind eye so that, in this deer hunter’s opinion, they could look clean in the view of the hunting public. All one has to do is read any article on the subject or talk to a DNR employee and the first words out of their mouth is “Hey, it wasn’t us”…

Me thinketh that they protesteth too much….

Whether you’re for or against using high powered, centerfire rifles for deer hunting in our state, we all should be disappointed in how some of the weasels in Indianapolis rail-roaded this new law into being. Although in the big scheme of things, rifle hunting in Indiana doesn’t affect the majority of people, we should all be concerned when we as citizens aren’t listened too and when our elected officials choose to set aside the will of the people due to their own self-interests or the interests of a few political lobbyists.

Whether it’s Washington, D. C. or Indianapolis, if one wants to see how our government actually works, I say follow the money and you’ll find your answers and most likely find some disappointment as well.

– David Hewitt