"Bayou Bill" Scifres
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Exciting News For Hoosier Nimrods
Copyright © 2004 by Bill Scifres

Some interesting outdoor-type things occurred last weekend when the Hoosier Outdoor Writers (HOW) staged its annual meeting in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the Indianapolis Boat, Sport & Travel Show.

The HOW meeting is over, but the Sports Show will continue through Sunday at the State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis. Both provided some exciting news for Hoosier nimrods.

Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Director John Goss was the HOW conference keynote speaker. He awakened the Hoosier scribes with the declaration that his agency and current governor Joe Kernan will work in the next session of the Indiana General Assembly (next fall) to establish an inexpensive fishing license for senior citizens.

Everyone concerned (including this reporter) is aware of the niceties of giving seniors the right to fish free for no reason other than the fact that they have manage to get old. But because no money changes hands and no license is issued, our Division of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) each year is losing roughly $700,000 in federal matching funding that could be well used in improving fishing programs for all Hoosier anglers. We have been losing this funding since the legislature established the free fishing right for seniors.

House Bill (H.B.) 1073 would have created an inexpensive license in the current session of the legislature, but it got nowhere when Gov. Kernan withdrew support of the bill and the DNR had to follow suit.

H.B. 1073 was referred to the House Ways and Means Committee and died there without a hearing. In explaining the failure of the bill, one influential legislator explained that such a bill (fund-raising) should never be introduced in an election year (politics raises its ugly head).

In any event, Director Goss stirred the all-ears scribery with the announcement that the DNR now has Gov. Kernan's blessings to pursue the matter in the next session of the general assembly (presumptuous as that may be in an election year).

Goss did not throw the following out for general consumption of my fellow outdoor scribes, but I asked later about the chances of the governor approving a modest hike in all hunting/fishing licenses fees (also scrapped last fall by the DNR after Governor Frank O"Bannon's death).

"We're working on that," Goss told me.

Captain Mike Crider, the officer in charge of the Division of Enforcement's Hunter Safety Program, conducted a workshop for a number of writers on the dangers of falling from a deer stand.

Crider pointed out that a full-body harness is the safest way to go in an elevated deer stand, but even with this precautionary measure there are many other threats of injuries and death.

Records of the DNR agency indicate that while there are many times as many accidents as there are deaths involved in deer-stand accidents, Crider says, but points out that there probably are many times as many non-fatal accidents that never are reported.

DNR records count only 11 reported non-fatal accidents in 2003 seasons (one fatality). The peak year for non-fatal reports was 18 in 1999. There were four fatal accidents in 1998. 

Crider points out that many of the deer-stand falls occur while hunters are climbing into or descending stands. He said equipment and guns should always be raised and lowered with a "haul rope."

Crider and fellow officers have constructed an educational tool they have named "The Gallows." They used it at the Deer/Turkey Exposition at the Sports Show last weekend to demonstrate the dangers deer hunters can encounter every time they hunt.

The Gallows will be used by Crider and other officers throughout the year to help cut the number of deer-stand accidents. Groups wishing to have the Gallows demonstrated at a public meeting should contact Crider by telephone (317-232-4010) or by e-mail (mcrider@dnr.state.in.us).

Capt. Mike Crider demonstrates the fall on the gallows with a waist strap. Crider demonstrates the full body harness.This setup distributes the hunter's weight fairly evenly from legs to shoulders.

Click on thumbnail photo to see enlarged image.


When Hoosier Outdoor Writers was formed on an October Sunday afternoon in 1969 on the shore of a strip-mine pit in southwestern Indiana, there was much discussion on the name the fledgling writers group should carry. Indiana Outdoor Writers Association was a popular choice until some wag pointed out that our acronym would be IOWA. 

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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