"Bayou Bill" Scifres
Dedicated to the conservation and enjoyment of Indiana's natural resources
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Berry Pickin', Huntin' and Trappin'
Copyright © 2003 by Bill Scifres

The Berry Season

The wild strawberry picking (as usual) was nothing to brag about this spring, but the pickin' of the so-called blackberries will be/is another matter and it has begun.

Wild black raspberries are ripe now throughout southern and central parts of the state. These beautiful, sweet nuggets will be available in the northern third of the state very soon. 
Dewberries, the early-ripening member of the true blackberry family, will come along as the black raspberries fade. And, the real-and-true blackberries will wind it up about the time squirrels start sampling early-maturing hickory nuts in the young days of August.

With this facet of the wild crop picture fast developing, the next month or six weeks is going to be a time to rejoice for little old pie, cobbler, jelly, jam and winemakers, not to mention those who get more juice on their fat little faces than berries in their pails.

Shade and sun are big factors in the schedule of the berry set. That is to say that berries ripening in the shade mature more slowly than those ripening in the sun. For that reason, those shady berries have more time to get sweet and juicy, and that more or less dictates that while shady berries ripen more slowly, they also are around longer.

If the picking for the three big summer berries overlaps, it is easy to distinguish between the three. When black raspberries ripen, this berry will have round hole in the center of the berry's base. Generally black raspberries float when immersed in cold water to eliminate bugs and other foreign objects. Dewberries, though very similar to blackberries in shape size and color, grow on vines that ramble through low weeds in fallow fields. Blackberries grow on canes, at times extending themselves high in low brush and small trees. Dewberries and blackberries do not float when immersed in cold water.
A two-pound Hills Brothers coffee can makes an excellent berry bucket. The strong wire bail of the homemade pail makes it possible to hook the bucket on your belt and pick with both hands.
The blackberries on this cane were so heavy with juice that the cane bent.
Picking berries is a lot more simple than taking one at a time. By holding the palm up under a cluster of berries, they can be rubbed (lightly) between thumb and first two fingers and stored in the palm until deposited in the pail. A ripe berry falls willingly into the palm . . . these are black raspberries.

Interestingly enough, one time a few years back I went to a North Side Indianapolis winemaking-supply shop to pick up some vapor locks and other equipment.

Prominently placed at the center of the showroom was a huge glass container of a beautiful, ink-black wine, bubbling merrily toward maturity.

"What's that?" I inquired of the shop owner/clerk.

"That's good ol' blackberry," he said, swelling with pride.

"Real berries?" I asked.

"No! A concentrate," he said, "I sell it here."

"What'll they think of next?" I asked myself.

Without answering my question, I departed the premises. It was difficult to abstain, but I did not tell him "good ol' blackberry" is the same color as blackberry juice . . . red.


Upcoming Hunting and Trapping Seasons Announced

The Division of Fish and Wildlife has announced dates for upcoming hunting and trapping seasons. The seasons by species are:

North of US 40: Aug. 15, 2003 - Dec. 31, 2003 
South of US 40: Aug. 15, 2003 - Jan. 31, 2004 

Ruffed Grouse:
Oct. 1, 2003 - Dec. 31, 2003

Early Archery: Oct. 1, 2003 - Nov. 30, 2003
Firearms: Nov. 15, 2003 - Nov. 30, 2003
Muzzleloader: Dec. 6, 2003 - Dec. 21, 2003
Late Archery: Dec. 6, 2003 - Jan. 4, 2004

Nov. 7, 2003 - Dec. 21, 2003
(Not including paid-hunting program)

North of SR 26: Nov. 7, 2003 - Dec. 21, 2003
South of SR 26: Nov. 7, 2003 - Jan. 15, 2004

Wild Turkey
April 21, 2004 - May 9, 2004
(There will be no fall season this year)

Nov. 7, 2003 - Jan. 31, 2004
(Not including dates on specified state-controlled properties)

July 1, 2003 - Aug. 15, 2003
Dec. 13, 2003 - Mar. 1, 2004

June 15, 2003 - April 30, 2004

Red and Gray Fox, Coyote:
Oct. 15, 2003 - Feb. 28, 2004

Raccoon and Opossum:
Nov. 8, 2003 - Jan. 31, 2004


Nov. 15, 2003 - March 15, 2004

Weasel, Mink, Muskrat:
Nov. 15, 2003 - Jan. 31, 2004

Oct. 15, 2003 - Jan. 31, 2004

Red and Gray Fox, Coyote:
Oct. 15, 2003 - Jan. 31, 2004

Raccoon and Opossum:
Nov. 15, 2003 - Jan. 31, 2004

Dates for Indiana's early migratory bird hunting seasons will be announced late in July.  Regular waterfowl seasons will be announced late in August.

All columns, essays, and photos 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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