CORYDON, Ind. - A Harrison County judge issued a ruling saying the Indiana Department of Natural Resources could not regulate fenced hunting preserves.
Whitetail Bluff is tucked away in rural Harrison County. It spans 116 acres and is surrounded by an 8-foot fence.
In his ruling, Judge John Evans said the DNR overstepped its authority. He said the deer at the facility are privately owned, and not the property of the State of Indiana. Therefore, the animals are not subject to regulation by DNR.
Whitetail Bluff owner Rodney Bruce can now move on, but there is always the possibility of an appeal.
DNR spokesman Phil Bloom said the DNR obviously is disappointed in the Harrison County court decision, and was currently in the process of evaluating the ruling.
But from his tree stand perch, Bruce believes his business is poised to take off. There are four facilities like his in the state, and along with an assortment of deer farms, it is a $52 million a year industry.
"The demand is there for quality places to hunt. With all the development going on and less places to hunt, this is the fastest-growing segment of hunting today. That’s why places like this exist,” Bruce said.
Bruce said he has spent over $100,000 in legal fees and he hopes the state does not appeal.
The National Federation of Independent Business is urging the state not to appeal the ruling.
Surrounding states Ohio, Kentucky, Illinois and Michigan all have deer hunting preserves.
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