"Bayou Bill" Scifres
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Copyright © 2002 by Bill Scifres

Note to Self

Dear Self:

I hope you will not think me pushy, but knowing how you have gotten forgetful in the last quarter-century or so, and how goofy you get when you think about those rainy gray-squirrel days in the fall woods, I thought I should remind you that hunting doves and a mess of other early-migrating birds starts soon . . . Don’t forget to work something into your September column about them . . . 

Your Alter Ego

Dear Alter Ego:

OK! So maybe I do wax a little poetic when I think about being in the deep woods on a coolish, overcast (even rainy) day in September when gray squirrels forego their mid-day snooze and work daylight to dark like little beavers as they store nuts and acorns in the forest floor for snacks when the “north wind doth blow.”

I admits it . . . I do get a little excited when I am sitting with my back against a big white oak tree . . . my little Steven’s Favorite single-shot .22 across my lap . . . first there is nothing . . . just the sounds of the deep woods . . . maybe the hoot of an owl that has been fooled by the dim-lit woods into thinking it is  time to hunt . . . and then there he is . . . a gray squirrel . . . he comes in like a gray ghost riding on a fog bank . . . seconds later he is up a sapling and into the hickory tree to get a nut to carry off and bury . . . 

Yes! I admits it . . . I do get excited . . . maybe even forgetful about other things . . . when the outer hulls of the nut come cascading down through the browning leaves as I cock the little rifle . . . anticipating a shot as the frisky gray comes down the sapling the same way he went up . . . 

Sure . . . I am thinking of absolutely nothing else as the silver streak half runs, half falls down the trunk of the sapling with the nut in his mouth  . . . .I rest my elbow on my knee and try vainly to line the sights up in case he pauses for an instant . . . but he disappears through the brush of the forest floor as miraculously as he appeared . . . 

You can bet I am thinking of nothing else when I grin--or maybe snicker quietly . . . as I tell myself I would have bagged the bugger if I had brought the little 20-gauge . . . but then I settle down again to nibble an apple slice while awaiting the next customer . . . the little rifle at rest again across my lap .  . . 

Yes! It is easy to forget other things on a gray-squirrel day in the deep woods . . .

Thus, I point out here and now that that the arrival of September does, indeed, signal the beginning of hunting for several species of early-migrating birds. And this is a great way to spend a September day.

To appease that “alter” fellow I even include the season dates for the early migrants, the most important of which being mourning doves, Canada Geese and blue and green-winged teal.

Furthermore, it is a fair assumption that I will try my hand at hunting all of the aforementioned birds since I have purchased my Indiana hunting license, my Indiana waterfowl hunting stamp, and my federal waterfowl stamp. I also have called in to get my free HIP number, which is an absolute must for those who want to stay legal while hunting any migratory bird (see procedure below).

Earliest of the seasons open Sept. 1. Season dates on other species of migrating birds (ducks and geese) will be found elsewhere on this site.

Here, by species, are the season dates for early migrating birds:

Sora rail--Sept. 1 - Nov. 9;
Mourning dove--Sept. 1 - Oct. 16, Nov. 8 -  Nov. 17, and Nov. 28 - Dec. 1;
Common moorhen (gallinule)--Sept. 1 - Nov. 9;
Woodcock--Oct. 4 - Nov. 17; 
Common snipe--Sept. 1 - Dec. 16; 
Blue and green-winged teal--Sept. 7 -  Sept. 15;
Canada Goose--Sept. 1 - Sept. 15.

Migratory bird hunters must register each year with the National Migratory Bird Harvest Information Program (HIP) before they hunt migratory birds. Telephone registration is free by calling: 1-800-WETLAND (938-5263) and providing the information requested. Online registration is possible at: http://www.IN.gov/dnr/fishwild/huntguide1/hip.htm

For a complete listing of early migratory bird hunting season dates, bag limits, and possession limits, see: http://www.IN.gov/dnr/fishwild/huntguide1/earlygbird.htm

Without further interference from that pushy other me, I note (voluntarily . . . and without further duress) that the cool nights of September sort of awaken crappies, bluegills, bass and some other denizens of the deep and they are hungry.

Coincidentally, those self-same cool September nights somewhat demobilize a phalanx of grasshopper types to make them easier to catch. Put a hook in them and make them available to the aforementioned denizens, and you have the makin’s of an interesting day on a lake.

Furthermore, if one selects a day during the early seasons on migrating birds (especially dove, Canada goose, or teal)--and if one brings along a little shotgun--one’s fishing efforts can be punctuated by shots that lead to a great mixed bag of game and fish . . . Do it by floating a river or stream that is lined with trees and Mr. Bushytail will add another dimension to your outing.

We also are duty bound to point out that as September grows older the produce of Mother Nature’s growing season approaches maturity. The things that spill from her cornucopia are free for the taking  . . . the only charge is a little effort and desire . . . the rewards will come in many ways.

Then, of course, there is the September opportunity for those who neither hunt nor fish to get out and just enjoy nature. Just as cool nights bring down the migratory game birds, it brings many songbirds and a raft of raptors--including the osprey, which does its share of fishing on Hoosier lakes and rivers.

Mixing fall fishing with hunting--doves/bass fishing here--is an excellent way to spend a September afternoon. The same cool nights that improve hunting and fishing, are just as good for bringing dozens of migrating birds. Look for migrating ospreys.


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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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