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.
Pratt looks over the rogues gallery of racks brought to him this fall for
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
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.