"Bayou Bill" Scifres
Dedicated to the conservation and enjoyment of Indiana's natural resources
About Bayou Bill
Recent Rambles
DNR Doings
Wild Recipes
Early Waterfowl & Paw-Paw Crop Survey
Copyright © 2002 by Bill Scifres

Early seasons on doves, Canada geese and a few other species of early-migrating birds are off and winging, and a shortened season on teal will open Saturday, Sept. 7. (If you missed the dates on these early seasons or regular seasons earlier in this column, you will find them elsewhere on bayoubill.com.)

Although reports of success in the early-going for doves and geese have been favorable, especially on private lands, things will have to change between now and Saturday if teal hunters are to be greeted by big numbers of birds. 

This, of course, could happen (as it has in some years of the past) because the start of the migration of blue-winged teal is influenced by cold weather in the northern states and southern Canada. 

For many years Indiana's early teal season opened Sept. 1 or soon thereafter, but Melody Miller, waterfowl biologist for the Division of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) points out that the Sept. 7 opener this year is the latest ever in Indiana. 

Miller adds that the later opening date was brought about by the fact that our early teal season was cut this year from 16 to nine days by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 

Adult blue-wings were down about 27 percent when the birds came north last spring, Miller says, and green-wings (not a big factor in the early hunting here) were down somewhat. 

Miller says the blue-wing migration hits Indiana about Sept. 15, adding that the delay of the opener was aimed at catching at least part of the migration. In the meantime, the first weekly waterfowl survey of the year was conducted on state-owned or operated properties last week. As usual, the bulk of the ducks present were on northern properties. 

Roughly 100 blue-wings were counted on northern properties and 110 were found at Hovey Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area in the southwestern corner of the state. There were no green-wings to speak of anywhere. 

It is interesting to note, however, that northern census areas were hosting roughly 1,500 wood ducks (not fair game during the early seasons), and there were roughly 500 on southern areas covered by weekly surveys. 

With these figures before us, it would not seem beyond the realm of probability that wood ducks will far outnumber teal in Hoosierland during the nine days of hunting the little zippers. Since wood ducks, though plentiful, will not be fair game until the real-and-true waterfowl seasons open in October, teal hunters will be well advised to be extremely careful what they shoot. 

Bagging a woodie by mistake could make said mistake very costly. This is a federal violation, and federal game agents and judges are said to lunch on raw beef dredged liberally with black powder and percussion caps. State judges hold the percussion caps. 

To further illustrate the gravity of this situation, I recall a teal hunt last year on one of my favorite ponds. Teal were present in good numbers late in the afternoon, but each flight of blue-wings was accompanied by greater numbers of woodies. I never fired a shot.

Incidentally, Miller has agreed to report findings of the weekly waterfowl survey (taken on Wednesdays), so we will pass the figures along as soon as we get them. The weekly surveys continue into January. 

INCIDENTAL INTELLIGENCE--Squirrel-hunting trips to the deep woods recently have indicated that the paw-paw crop may be a little skimpy this year. Still some paw-paw "trees" are bearing fruit. 

It may be that the drought has stifled growth of the fruit although the "Indiana banana" still has some time left to grow before ripening. Still, even small paw-paws will offer good pulp. 

Look for paw-paws in damp, deep-shaded areas of the squirrel woods. 


All columns are copyrighted by Bill Scifres and may not be reproduced in any form without prior permission from the author.  For reproduction permission and media usage fees, contact: Bill Scifres, 6420 East 116th Street, Fishers, IN 46038, E-mail: billscifres@aol.com

 Return to beginning of document
Return to Bayou Bill's Home Page