"Bayou Bill" Scifres
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Hoosier Bucks May Sport Larger Racks This Year
Copyright © 2003 by Bill Scifres

Last of the deer seasons (the late season for bow hunters) will not end until January 4, but there are some glimmering indications that Hoosier bucks may have sported slightly larger racks this year and that there are more of them.
We won't have anything concrete on that until long after total harvest figures are announced in January or February. But one of the state's leading taxidermists sees (in deer racks brought to him this year for mounting) some signs that the average of racks may be a bit heftier this year.
"It's hard to tell now," says Don Pratt, owner of Pratt Taxidermy at Lebanon, "but the racks I am getting this year seem to be a little larger than last year."
When I took the hide (for tanning) of my deer to Don a couple of weeks ago, I was awed by the racks he had on a large table waiting to be turned into head/neck mounts.
While Don would not go out on a limb concerning the fact that average scores of racks may be up somewhat this year, he said it seemed to him that they were a bit larger and more numerous.
In most years this could be passed off as another would-be statistic, but with the Division of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) instituting its "one-buck-per-hunter" rule last year, it gains some significance.
Biologists of the DFW were quick to point out when the one-buck rule was adopted that it would take several years before any positive signs that this regulation would translate into more and bigger racks in Hoosierland. The DFW clings steadfastly to that thinking, but in the face hunter complaints they vow to let the regulation run its planned five-season course even though they doubt that it will produce alarming results.
In any event, Pratt says the biggest rack brought to him this year is a 19-point typical taken by Sam Bailey, of Lebanon, in Boone County. He adds, however, that he has other very big racks.

View image. Don Pratt looks over the rogues gallery of racks brought to him this fall for trophy mounts.

RULE CHANGE MEETING--DNR officials will present administrative rule change proposals at a joint  meeting of the Indiana Advisory Council for Water and Resource Regulation and the Advisory Council for Lands and Cultural Resources at 10 A.M. December 16 at  Fort Harrison State Park office.
The meeting will be open to the public.

The DNR is proposing more than 30 rule changes to protect wildlife while addressing enforcement, legal and social concerns. Changes to deer and turkey hunting laws, fishing regulations, turtle regulations and state endangered species listings are being considered. The creation of a fall turkey season, extending the coyote season, and establishing new brown trout regulations at Brookville Reservoir tailwaters are a few of the rule proposals that hunters and anglers proposed.

The rule change package also will be presented to the Natural Resources Commission on January 20, 2004, and a public hearing will be scheduled for next spring.

Additional information on the rule review process timeline and specific proposals, are available on line at: http://www.in.gov/dnr/fishwild/about/rules.htm

LATE DUCK DOPE--The recent cold snap did not do northern Indiana duck hunters any favors, but it appears to have helped those of central and southern parts of the state, at least in numbers.

Total ducks on northern census areas last week dropped from 6,900 to about 3,400 in the DFW's weekly waterfowl survey.
Duck numbers on the southern census areas doubled from the previous week with a total of 2,860 birds on the 13 areas. Last year at this time there were 18,000 puddle ducks in the state.

None of this means anything if you find a good concentration of birds--just hunt and enjoy. 

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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