"Bayou Bill" Scifres
Dedicated to the conservation and enjoyment of Indiana's natural resources
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Waterfowl Season Has Opened
Copyright © 2004 by Bill Scifres

Indiana’s North Zone waterfowl season opened last Saturday (October 23, 2004), but birds were not plentiful and hunting was not exceptional.

Right now it probably is more important to understand where hunting is legal, and where it is not, than where the birds are and how many are being bagged. So we deal with most important aspects of waterfowl hunting first.

The duck season in the North Zone, roughly the northern third of the state, will continue through December 18. In most years surface waters of the northern part of the state freeze.

The general season on geese also opened last Saturday in the North Zone, and it will continue through December 28. The season on geese in the Southern James Bay Population Zone (Lagrange, Steuben, Starke, Elkhart, Jasper, Laporte and the Jasper-Pulaski State Fish and Wildlife Area) also opened last Saturday. It will continue through December 8.

The statewide season on snow geese (including blues), white-fronted geese, and brant opened October 22. It will continue through January 31 next year.

Although the season on snow and white-fronted geese is open now throughout the state, hunting for ducks and Canada geese will not be legal in the South Zone (roughly the southern two-thirds of the state), and the Ohio River Zone (a narrow strip along the Ohio River) until later in November. The catch, of course, on blue, snow and white-fronted geese lies in the fact that these birds are seldom found in any part of Indiana. 

The Division of Fish and Wildlife’s 2004-05 Hunting Guide does not include information of boundaries of the various waterfowl (duck and goose) hunting zones, but this is available on my web page (www.bayoubill.com) by searching for "Waterfowl Hunting Zones."

For those who do not have access to online computers, the North Zone is bordered on the south by State Highway 18 east from the Illinois state line to U.S. 31; along US 31 north to US 24; east on US 24 to the city of Huntington, and southeast on US 224 to the Ohio state line.

The northern boundary of the Ohio River Zone is I-64 east from the Illinois state line to New Albany; east on State Highway 62 to State Highway 56; east on State Highway 56 to Vevay; along State Highway 156 along the Ohio River to North Landing, north on State Highway 56 to US 50, and northeast on US 50 to the Ohio state line.

The South Zone is that part of the state that lies between the southern boundary of the North Zone, and the northern boundary of the Ohio River Zone. This is roughly two-thirds of the state.

Now for that information on where the birds are and best bets for hunting.

Best hunting on the first two days of hunting for ducks and geese was at Kankakee State Fish and Wildlife Area on the Starke-Laporte County line on the Kankakee River. Hunters on Saturday and Sunday bagged roughly 160 ducks (mostly mallards and wood ducks), and 26 Canada geese.

Estimates place something like 3,000 to 3,500 dabbling ducks at Kankakee now and roughly 400 Canada geese, mostly resident birds.

Willow Slough State Fish and Wildlife Area, usually one of the best state-owned areas for waterfowling, has little water. It offers almost no waterfowl hunting (the lake has not yet filled since dam construction work has been completed).

Although Tri-County State Fish and Wildlife Area (on the Kosciusko-Noble county line), Jasper Pulaski SFWA (on the Jasper-Pulaski county line) reported fair number of birds, the hunting over the weekend was slow. Pigeon River SFWA (Lagrange County) reported few ducks, but good numbers of Canada geese, and little hunting success. Hunting for Canadas was the best bet there.

The migration of dabbling ducks peaked December 31 last year. Diving ducks peaked Dec. 26, and Canada geese peaked January 7.


The Division of Fish and Wildlife reports a bag of 2,477 deer by bow hunters during the first full week of the early bow season, October 4-10, 2004. A comparison to last year is not available.

First tallies of the harvest of deer will not be known until some time in November, probably after the first weekend of the firearms season, November 13-14.

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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