"Bayou Bill" Scifres
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Waterfowl Hunting at Stillwater Marsh
Copyright © 2005 by Bill Scifres

Hoosier hunters may be inconvenienced when seasons on waterfowl start popping later this month and in November at the Monroe Reservoir Stillwater Marsh complex, but Rex Watters, fish and wildlife biologist at the 10,800-acre impoundment, says there will be a lot of hunting opportunity there.

Monroe’s Stillwater Marsh waterfowl hunting complex, is one of the state’s most productive and colorful public hunting areas.

The potential cutback on waterfowl hunting opportunity stems from the fact that the Monroe County Highway Department will be doing some repair work on the causeway that crosses Sugar Creek Bay. This is on Point Road.

The Army Corps of Engineers, operator of the reservoir, reported the reservoir stage at 535.8 feet (above sea level) last Sunday. That is 2.2 feet below Norman summer/winter stage of 538.

Plans call for dropping Monroe three feet below normal pool level, possibly as much as five feet if necessary. This could bring low water levels during the three-day waterfowl season later this month, and possibly into the November/December/January season.

At this point, the waterfowl-hunting situation at Monroe is a “play-it-by-ear” thing. But to prepare for the possibility of low-water levels when wild wings beat southward (and hopefully spend some time in Hoosierland), Watters says the smaller marshes have already been plugged to hold any runoff from rain that the weather offers.

He says Upper and Lower Quail Fields, Blue Goose, and Friendship are holding water now. 

Drains at Stillwater Marsh have not yet been closed because crops remain in the fields, and that translates into a “doubtful” designation, at least for the October gunning. Hickory Woods and the Oxbow areas should have water, Watters says.

Applications for the five days of reserved hunting during the late season on waterfowl (Nov. 25 through Jan. 20 in the South Zone) were due Sept. 30. Thus, it is too late to apply for reservations.

But Watters points out that even though the first 10 picks on reserved-hunting days will go to those who have reservations, there still will be 10 to 12 hunting areas available even on reserved days.

Monroe has a calendar available to help potential hunters decide when they should make the trip to Monroe with waterfowling in mind. It is available by calling the Monroe Reservoir office (812-837-9546, not a toll-free call).

Watters suggests that those planning hunts at Monroe this year should call the Monroe office before they go to hunt.


The third-week report of the Division of Fish and Wildlife’s weekly waterfowl survey counted only about 3,000 ducks on the 20 public-land survey sites with mallards and wood ducks counting for roughly two-thirds of the birds here now.

North Zone areas (roughly the northern third of the state) reported 3400 woodies, 426 mallards and a smattering of other species, including blue and green-wing teal.

But the big push in the migration is yet to come, and the vanguard of flight birds is made up of woodies that will augment our own native woodies.

The DFW survey is conducted each Wednesday through the migration of waterfowl. It is not intended as a head count of waterfowl in the state, but rather as an indicator of the progress of the fall migration.

Click on thumbnail image for enlarged view.

The wood duck is one of Indiana’s most beautiful birds, as this male reflects.
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Monroe’s Hickory Woods is the scene as this hunter places decoys to meet the first rays of a fall sun.

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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