"Bayou Bill" Scifres
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Canned Hunting, Fire Pink & The Indiana State Legislature
Copyright © 2004 by Bill Scifres

As hunting seasons wind down, Hoosier nimrods will be turning their attention to such indoor activities as the goings-on in the Indiana General Assembly.

The big legislative issue in the eyes of the outdoor community probably will revolve around bills related to deer-pen hunting, but that is not something new. It has been with us for at least five years in one form or another.

Sportsmen, deer hunters, and conservationists have been adamantly opposed to deer-pen hunting, a k a “canned hunting,” since a mixed bag of legislators of the Peru-Kokomo area (and some from other locales) launched lunatic legislation to legalize such activities.

The anti-deer-pen-hunting contingent, which can give you 1,001 reasons why phony hunting is totally unwarranted, start with the fact that there is evidence from Canada and some northern U.S. states that penned deer may be helping spread chronic wasting disease (CWD) in wild deer populations. 

As of Monday [December 27, 2004] I could find no trace of such proposed legislation on lists of bills that have been introduced for consideration by the legislature when the 2005 session is reconvened next Tuesday (January 4). However, lists of both the House of Representatives and the Senate harbor many “vehicle” bills, some of which could be used later by legislator proponents of deer-pen hunting.

The Department of Natural Resources’ Legislative Study Committee (a k a summer study committee) spent most of one day last fall discussing the pros and cons of deer-pen hunting, but made no recommendations on the issue.

This, of course, may mean nothing because legislators who have introduced such measures in recent years have put delayed fuses on their legislative bombs to thwart the opposition. This has not been effective in the past, but we probably can expect more of these sneaky tactics in this session.

In the meantime, I have heard from grapevine janglings that an organization of experts of the plant kingdom will try to pump life into a sick old bill that would make fire pink, which few of the proponent have ever seen in the wild, our state flower.

Your reporter absolutely adores fire pink, although he has observed and photographed this fire-engine-red beauty only half a dozen or so times in his life.

The peony (not a wildflower) has been the Indiana state flower far, far too long. But, although the legislature should replace it, the candidates for this elite title should be, first, a wildflower, and secondly a flower that is seen by the masses, perhaps a flower that is seen from our roadways.

Click on thumbnail image for enlarged view.

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Beautiful as it is, fire pink would be a poor candidate for Indiana state flower because few ever see it. A close-up of fire pink’s blossom leaves no doubts about its beauty.

DEER HARVEST--Total harvest for 2004 deer seasons will not be known until early next year, but Dr. Jim Mitchell, deer biologist for the Division of Fish and Wildlife (DFW), says the total bag for all seasons probably will top 110,000.

Mitchell, and his assistant, Lance McNew) had counted 108,000 deer for the 2004 seasons as of Monday (December 27), and still were counting deer taken in the late bow season which will continue through Sunday, January 2.

“We will almost certainly have another 2,000 (deer) to add,” Mitchell says, “but it could be more . . . it could be 3,000 or more.”

Before the early bow season opened last October 1 Mitchell anticipated a total harvest about like last year’s all-seasons total of almost 107,000, and an antlered deer harvest that would be among the top four or five years of our modern deer seasons.

He said the tally for 2004 seasons is not far enough along now to see if that occurred. The total harvest figures, and a breakdown of the total by seasons and sexes should be known early next year.

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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