"Bayou Bill" Scifres
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Deer Harvest For 2002-03 Exceeds 2001-02 Season
Copyright © 2003 by Bill Scifres

Total deer harvest figures for the 2002-03 seasons are not final, but the bag for all seasons will be slightly greater than 104,000, one or two percent higher than the 103,263 bag of 2001-02.
Dr. Jim Mitchell, deer biologist for the Division of Fish and Wildlife (DFW), said Monday that neither the Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) scare, nor the change in regulations that confined a hunter to one antlered deer, appears to have affected harvest figures over the length of the seasons.
Officials of the DFW and some conservationists and other wildlife enthusiasts have feared that this rare disease in deer might curtail total hunting efforts by eliminating some hunters. But Mitchell says this does not appear to have happened.
Neither does the one-buck regulation--instituted for the 2002-03 seasons--appear to have greatly  changed the harvest of antlered and total deer, Mitchell says, although data on the breakdown on the harvest by sex is not yet available.
Mitchell believes the new one-buck rule may have brought about lower harvest figures on antlered deer during the early bow season (starting October 1), but he thinks that may have been offset by a greater antlered harvest in the firearms seasons.  
Incidentally, initial tests have not found any trace of CWD in samples of Indiana deer taken by the DFW during 2002-03 deer seasons.
Of 3,477 samples collected in the early part of last fall's deer seasons, 1,361 were submitted by the DFW for testing. The first 639 samples analyzed showed no signs of CWD. The remaining 722 samples are being checked.

LEGISLATIVE WATCH--Hoosier hunters and firearms enthusiasts are more than a tad concerned about House Bill (HB) 1011 which, they say, could have the potential to end hunting in Indiana by banning ammunition fired in automatic weapons.
Authored by Rep. Vernon Smith, of Gary, HB 1011 has been referred to the House committee on Courts and Criminal Code. Although that panel convened Tuesday (February 4). Rep. Smith's bill was not on the agenda.
Elsewhere on the legislative scene, Senate Bill (SB) 266, a bill aimed at paving the financial path to a computerized "point-of-sale" setup for hunting/fishing licenses, was approved Monday by the Senate Natural Resources Committee and referred to the Senate Finance Committee.
A similar bill, HB 1656, was approved by the House Agriculture, Natural Resources and Rural Affairs Committee last week and referred to the House Ways and Means Committee.

SB 266 deals solely with the point-of-sale license issue. HB 1656 includes establishing fees for other services of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
Both bills are aimed at giving the DNR authority to use some $5-million from a lifetime license (hunting/fishing) fund. Currently, the DNR can use no more than 2.5 percent of that fund per year.

THIS WILL BEAR WATCHING--Three measures  related to the "Deer-Pen Hunting Concept," (hunting for good old Hoosier white-tails in pens . . . undoubtedly for big bucks) will bear watching.
Two of the bills, HB 1921 and SB 361, would permit landowners to breed deer in captive situations so long as there is no hunting involved. The third--HB 1978--is a big mystery. Conservationists say it will deserve close scrutiny. Neither HB 1921 nor SB 361 have been heard by their respective committees. Both bill are favored by the Coalition for Ethical Hunting.

In its unobtrusive vein, HB 1978 would do nothing more than provide a manner in which deer breeders might dispose of their animals at times when DNR and the Indiana Department of Public Health regulations ban the importation of deer.
That may be well and good. But those who remember the legislative hassels of the past, in which a small contingent of pro deer-pen-bill legislators tried to saddle the state with this goofy form of hunting that is being outlawed almost everywhere, are wondering if the measure is, in reality, a vehicle to pull the deer-pen wool over our eyes in the waning day of the legislative session.
To this point there is no pro deer-pen hunting bill in the legislature. But two of the authors of HB 1978 have been strong  forces in unsuccessful attempts to railroad the concept into law in the past..
Makes a feller wonder, doesn't 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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