2003 by Bill Scifres
Changes in Hunting and Fishing
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
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
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.