"Bayou Bill" Scifres
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"Caution" Is Ice Fishing Watchword
Copyright © 2005 by Bill Scifres

The latest round of near-zero temperatures has pumped new life into the ice-fishing picture, but larger reservoirs of the state still are far above normal levels and would have to be considered very dangerous even if some of the smaller bays offer some ice.
The same can be said of smaller lakes--even ponds--if they are fed by streams, or if they iced up when water levels were above normal from earlier heavy rains.
When ice is supported by water it can be very strong, even if it is not thick. But even thick ice becomes very risky when water levels fall and leave it suspended.  This condition is not always obvious, but if ice slopes toward the middle of any body of water it could be a dangerous situation.
A few years back, Harden Lake (Raccoon Reservoir) was only slightly above winter pool stage and the walleyes there beckoned to ice fishermen. There was a beautiful cover of ice, but it was several feet above the water and so dangerous that the lake wisely had to be closed to fishing.
In the early years of Monroe Reservoir’s storied sport fishery, I was fishing through 12 inches of clear, solid ice only a few hundred yards from the end of Moore’s Creek Bay when I encountered one of the most frightening things I have ever experienced on the ice.
I was at the middle of the bay, facing the long expanse of ice that ran out to the big water of the reservoir. Suddenly, this air-splitting crack (like a continuing rifle shot) filled the air as it grew closer and louder by the second. 
There was no time to do anything but sit and watch. I had heard and observed ice settling on water; I knew what was happening. As the noise grew louder the ice seemed to shutter and a crack in the ice shot between my feet at what seemed to be the speed of sound. There was not a drop of water on the ice.
Ice settling on the water of smaller bodies of water can be just as frightening and more dangerous--especially if it is only a few inches thick.
As always in ice fishing, the watchword is CAUTION.


Aside from the fact that House Bill (HB) 1780, a perfectly atrocious measure that would encourage deer-pen hunting in Indiana, has been introduced in the Indiana General Assembly, there is good news concerning the state’s largest mammal.
Dr. Jim Mitchell, deer biologist for the Division of Fish and Wildlife (DFW). says the still-running total for all recently-ended deer seasons stands at about 121,000, roughly 14,000 greater than the 2003-04 total bag.
“We’re still getting a few reports,” Mitchell says, “but the total bag is going to be about 121,000.”
Mitchell still is sorting out the figures on the harvest by gender, but he says the total bag of 121,000 will be the second highest harvest in the history of modern-day deer seasons. The record harvest was 123,000 in 1996.
In the meantime, Phil Hawkins, a Franklin scorer for Boone & Crockett and other record books, scored a 12-point typical last Sunday at 180 1/8 (one eighth) inches. That buck, an 18-pointer with 22 4/8 (four-eights) inches of deductions, was taken by Bob Hardwick, Mitchell, with muzzle loading rifle at Crane Naval Support Center, during a special hunt  
Hawkins, who has scored deer racks for many years, says Hardwick’s rack probably will be in the top 10 racks of all time In Indiana, and probably will be the top rack taken with muzzle loading rifle in the 2004-05 seasons.
Hawkins measured the main beam of the Hardwick rack at six inches and added that it was five inches in circumference toward its terminal end.
Still another rack scored by Hawkins is a 10-point typical (three non-typical spurs) taken by Mark Bonnewell, Camby, with bow in Ripley County. 
Hawkins also has scored a non-typical (15-point) rack at 195. This one was taken by Scott Marsteller, now of Colorado, from Putnam County.
Deer racks must age two months before they are scored, so it is much too early to be thinking about the largest racks of the year. Still, the state is off to a good start.


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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