VALLONIA — Deer and turkey hunters would no longer have to log their game at a check-in station under an Indiana Department of Natural resources proposal that would shift the registrations online.
The Tribune reports the Indiana Natural Resources Commission will hold a public hearing Oct. 4 in Plainfield on whether to permanently allow hunters to check in deer and wild turkeys electronically.
The system called CheckIN Game has been used since the spring wild turkey season under a temporary rule. It allows hunters to check in a deer or wild turkey using a computer or other electronic device, or by phone. A hunter would receive a unique confirmation number for each animal.
Linnea Petercheff, operations staff specialist with the DNR's Division of Fish & Wildlife, said the online check-in is more convenient because it saves hunters from having to drive long distances to register their game. Many hunters have trouble getting deer checked in during the required 48 hours, and there aren't as many check-in stations for turkeys, she said.
"That can be a problem for people when their check-in station is closed, or if they kill their animal late at night and need to be at work the next morning," Petercheff said.
Petercheff said about 17 percent of the 2,160 turkey kills this spring were registered electronically.
Hunters still have the option of reporting a deer or turkey at a check-in station.
Petercheff said many hunters support the online check-in, but some opponents say it could result in losing key data gathered during the deer firearms season each year.
Petercheff said biologists normally go to check-in stations to evaluate the deer for disease and age. The state uses that information to determine the age and general health of the deer population and to track disease among the herd.
"There is some concern that information will be lost," Petercheff said.
Catheryn Tolliver doesn't expect the proposed changes to affect business much at Tolliver's Hunting & Fishing Supply in Vallonia.
She said the store checked in 106 turkeys this spring when the electronic check-in was in use, down slightly from 114 checked in last spring. She doesn't expect deer season to be much different.
"We have extended hours during deer check-in, and we'll stay late until a hunter gets here if they call us and tell us they're coming in," Tolliver said. "Sometimes it's midnight before they find their deer."