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Jacklighting is a dangerous and illegal hunting act

Friday, December 7, 2007

Deer hunting season is here, but not all hunters use good sportsmanship or judgment while hunting.

Considered an unfair advantage while hunting, "jacklighting" is when a person in a motor vehicle uses a spotlight, searchlight or any other artificial light in an attempt to search for wildlife while in possession of a firearm or bow for the purpose of taking, attempting to take or assisting to take a deer.

"Using a light to see or spot wildlife is not illegal," Indiana Conservation/Public Information Officer Max Winchell said about how hunters use a spotlight to immobilize deer. "But using one while in possession of a firearm or bow is illegal."

Jacklighting isn't the safest way to hunt according to Winchell.

"It's not safe to shoot when you can't see what is beyond your target," Winchell said about the limited view hunters have with a light. "Plus, people don't like having spotlights shined in their homes. We often get complaints of jacklighters shining lights on homes or out buildings. People get upset and startled when a spotlight shines through their window."

While driving around with a loaded firearm in a vehicle is not considered illegal, it is not considered very safe. Winchell said hunters often use high-powered rifles while jacklighting and don't take into consideration that the bullets can travel several miles, which places homes, livestock and other legal hunters or people outside in the way of potential harm.

Winchell also said jacklighting is an activity that potentially leads to other illegal hunting activity.

"Trespassing is often also an issue, as the bad guys don't generally ask permission to poach deer on someone else's property," he said. "We ask people who are going to shine spotlights that they not be in possession of a firearm or bow while doing it and that they be very cognizant of homeowners and please respect their property."

Indiana Conservation Officers encourage the public to call 1-800-TIP-IDNR with any information on hunting, fishing or pollution violations.

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