"Bayou Bill" Scifres
Dedicated to the conservation and enjoyment of Indiana's natural resources
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Waterfowl Migration Quickens
Copyright © 2002 by Bill Scifres

With the upland game season openers more than a week away (November 8), waterfowl hunting remains in the spotlight, which seems to have been turned a notch or two brighter as the migration of ducks quickens.

Best bets for both ducks and geese now still will be the state's North Zone (roughly the northern third of the state). But the early segment of the split season on ducks will remain open through Friday (November 1) in the South Zone, which covers all of the central part of the state and most of the south. The second (final) segment of the North Zone seasons on both ducks and geese opened October 26 and will continue through December 21. The South Zone season on ducks only opened October 26 and will end Friday (November 1).

The early segment of the split season on ducks in the Ohio River Zone, an east-west strip along the Ohio River was open for only two days, October 26 - 27, and it was not real productive. 

Those who are waterfowl hunters will know the boundaries of the three zones. Those who have on-line computers will find the boundaries on my web page (www.bayoubill.com), or by calling the Division of Fish and Wildlife: 317-232-4080.

Migrating waterfowl seem to know the boundaries very well as they always stop first in the northern-tier counties.

To confirm this custom, on eight northern census areas (all state properties) the migration of ducks jumped from a total of roughly 3,400 in the October 17 weekly waterfowl survey to nearly 12,000 in the survey conducted a week later.

Kankakee State Fish and Wildlife Area counted the most ducks (4,500 mallards, 500 wood duck), and Willow Slough was hosting roughly 3,300 mallards and more than 100 woodies. However, Tri-County, Jasper-Pulaski, Kingsbury, LaSalle, and Pigeon River State Fish and Wildlife areas were hosting fair numbers of mallards, woodies, and a smattering of other birds.

The northern census areas also were reporting good numbers of Canada geese, a total of about 1,500, with Pigeon River and Kankakee turning in top totals.

At this time, both geese numbers and geese harvested are believed to be from resident flocks, rather than migrants.

Figures on the 14 southern census areas also were up somewhat during the most recent weekly survey, but not as much as they were in the north. Mallard totals jumped from 583 to 1,253, and woodies declined slightly, 646 to 475. Monroe Reservoir, and Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge again were the leaders, but Minnehaha State Fish and Wildlife counted some 500 mallards in the latest survey.


How the harvest of deer will play out over the long haul is anybody's guess at this point, but the total bag of deer through October 13 was down a bit from last year's figures.

The DFW count conducted by the wildlife agency's Bloomington office reported a total of 522 antlered deer and 1,312 antlerless deer taken from October 7 through October 13. That brought the total for the bow season (it opened October 1) to 2,001, compared to 2,242 in the corresponding period last year.

The big question on the count of the deer harvest revolves around whether the DFW will continue weekly counts of the harvest during seasons that unfold after the early bow season.

Don't know! That's the word we got Monday, October 28. We'll just have to wait and see.

Last year the DFW stopped the weekly count on deer because the Governor's crackdown on expenses was said to have made it necessary to "lay off" part-time help which conducted the weekly counts. It didn't seem to matter that salaries for such employees came from the Fish and Wildlife Fund, totally unrelated to the Governor's general fund.

However that scenario may have gone, the part-time help is back--at least at the Bloomington office--but there still seems to be a question on whether the weekly deer harvest count will be reinstated for the firearms and late bow seasons. More on that when decisions are made.

The final tally on last year's deer harvest did not come until well after most Hoosier outdoors folks had forgotten about it.


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

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