Latest figures (they are a week old now) on the deer harvest indicate
the total bag was down roughly 3,300 (24 percent) deer in the first five
weeks of the early bow season.
This may--or may not--be indicative of the way the total deer harvest
will go this year, but during the fifth week of the early bow season bow-benders
reported taking 2,575 deer, compared to 3,408 in the corresponding week
The harvest that week boosted the 2002 total bow bag to 10,467, compared
to 13,833 in the corresponding period last year.
Cause of this deficit in the deer harvest can only be a matter for speculation
at this point. But should it continue through the firearms seasons, there
will be room for speculation that it has been brought about by one of two
things . . . or both: the fact that the price of the deer hunting license
has more than doubled since last year, and the uncertainty on the presence
of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in the Hoosier deer herd.
But whatever the culprit might be, a 20 or 30 percent reduction in deer
license revenue could splatter red ink on the DFW ledger . . . perhaps
negate the additional funding expected from that round of license fee hikes.
This may be considered quite newsy to some folks--and well it might
be. But those who like to know what is transpiring in "the great outdoors"
reasonably soon will tell you the big news will be found in the fact that
Department of Natural Resources brass indicate you should not get addicted
to such fine service from your public servants.
There will be harvest figures available later this week on the first
six weeks of the bow season. After that you can speculate on how many deer
will be taken in all seasons this year until some time next year . . .
maybe late February if form prevails.
Last year, you may recall, the weekly deer harvest reports were halted
at the corresponding time. The DNR justified the decision with the explanation
that the employees who conducted such counts had to be temporarily laid
off to meet the Governor's austerity program. It did not seem to matter
that eliminating salaries paid from the Fish and Wildlife Fund would not
reflect on the state's fiscal welfare one whit.
The three employees who were temporarily laid off still are not back
on the payroll. The job they did counting harvested deer will not be done
on a weekly basis again this year, we are told.
Our first inkling on how the total deer harvest went last year came
toward the end of February. Should we prepare ourselves for a ditto DNR
segments of waterfowl seasons in South and Ohio River Zones
will open Saturday, November 23, but it now appears that the hunting will
fall far shy of spectacular.
The second segment of North Zone seasons on ducks and geese will continue
through December 21, although the goose season on James Bay Population
(JBP) counties will end December 11. JBP areas are Lagrange, Steuben, Starke,
Elkhart, Jasper, and LaPorte counties, and Jasper-Pulaski State Fish and
The migration of ducks appears to have peaked at around 13,000 on eight
northern areas last week. However, figures from the last (November 13)
weekly waterfowl survey do not look all that promising for South and Ohio
The November 13 survey counted roughly 1,000 mallards and 400 wood ducks,
both figures being down from the previous week. However, Monroe Reservoir,
Minnehaha State Fish and Wildlife Area, and Gibson Cooling Lake did not
Success of the South and Ohio River Zone duck hunting will depend on
the weather. If cold weather (ice on surface waters) forces ducks south,
the hunting could be good in the southern half of the state. Otherwise,
hunters will have to find the birds that are present now. The last wave
of cold weather already has pushed many wood ducks south.
At this point the hunting for geese is largely a matter of "drygulching"
resident flocks as they go to harvested grain fields to feed. Muscatatuck
National Wildlife Refuge near Seymour last week was hosting the largest
concentration of Canada geese (almost 800) in the state, although resident
flocks around the state will offer good hunting.
WATCH FOR SHAGS--A
strong wind out of the northwest whipped a hard, cold rain on the back
of my neck to remind me it was a raw November day . . . perfect for
pickin' shaggymanes (Coprinus comatus).
I had been wondering why my travels had not produced any roadside shags,
but last Wednesday night and Thursday's (November 13 - 14) weather turned
Since that time shags have been just about as scarce as they were before,
but those who swear by the eating qualities of this most fragile fungi
should continue to focus on grassy spots.
Over the years I have concluded that lawns in fifth or six years have
been best for shags, but last Thursday's bonanza came on grasslands (mowed
occasionally) that were barely two years old.