"Bayou Bill" Scifres
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Changes in Hunting and Fishing Regulations Forthcoming
Copyright © 2003 by Bill Scifres
Like the wheels of justice, the round slabs of stone of the Department of Natural Resources' administrative rule process turn slowly, but they have turned, and are turning, toward changes in regulations related to hunting and fishing.
If you are of the outdoor fraternity/sorority, you may recall that the Division of Fish and Wildlife conducted meeting earlier this summer at 19 locations around the state to tap in on the thinking of outdoor types.
More that 500 outdoor folks attended those meetings for an average of roughly 21 outdoor souls per meeting. DFW brass say another 1,000 interested parties registered views via e-mail and other modes of communication.
Considering the fact that there probably are more than two million Hoosiers who must adhere to the regulations, those numbers are woefully small. But when one considers that the backbone of most outdoors persons compares favorable to that a jellyfish when it is time to stand up for their rights, those are not bad figures. Hoosier outdoor folks simply are not boat rockers until they have their backs to the wall and their feet firmly planted on a stack of banana peelings.
Be that as it is--and probably ever shall be--the DFW and big daddy DNR currently are studying the suggestions you 1,500 brave souls made during that series of input meetings. An announcement of the proposed changes via the administrative rule process is forthcoming, we are told--probably early in October.
Officials of the DFW said Monday that the specifics of rule changes are not yet known. But if the suggestions offered by those who earlier voiced opinions can be used as a yardstick, it is likely that there will be changes in regulations dealing with wild turkey and deer hunting, and minimum size limits on muskellunge.
Taking first things first, it would seem that those who lobbied for a return to the two-buck rule will be denied--at least for another four years.
Although biologists of the DFW steadfastly pointed out that the one-buck rule, which limits hunters to one antlered buck per year, would not produce more deer with big racks, this regulation was implemented last year. At the time, DFW brass pointed out that the one-buck rule would be tried for five years (they meant seasons) to see what happens.
Officials of the DFW say the will honor the wishes deer hunters who are not necessarily pleased with the one-buck rule, but want to give it a fair try.
It is a somewhat different story for wild turkey hunters who long for a fall season. The wheels are turning on that issue even as this column is flitting across my computer screen. It could be that we will have some word on that before next week. 
With the range of the wild turkey pretty well saturated (we hunted them in 90 of the 92 counties last spring), biologist Steve Backs has been looking at the pros and cons of a fall season for several years. It could happen by next fall. But as of Monday, there had been no decision, we are told.
Backers of a fall season on turkey seem to think in terms of combination deer/turkey hunts. But the season on squirrels remains open through much of the turkey range into January, which could translate into an interesting three-way outdoor opportunity--especially in view of the fact that these woodland species are doing far better than most upland species.
A greater legal minimal length on muskies is simply aimed at keeping more big fish in the water longer. It probably will happen.

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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