"Bayou Bill" Scifres
Dedicated to the conservation and enjoyment of Indiana's natural resources
About Bayou Bill
Recent Rambles
DNR Doings
Wild Recipes



A Welcome Intruder
Copyright © 2005 by Bill Scifres

Over the years sitting deer stands (sitting stands . . . does that add up?) have served up many exciting incidents not involving deer. Two of the most outstanding episodes have involved sharp-shinned hawks . . . I call them Mother Nature’s buzz bombs. 

I find it exciting to see a sharp-shin at any distance, but my deer hunt on opening day (last Saturday) proved to be the greatest of all--the chance to view this beauty (presumably a female) at point-blank range . . . like eyeball-to-eyeball. 

I am sitting one of two stands that I hunt (often with success) in a brush-infested Boone County fencerow that borders (at my back) a 20-acre expanse of large trees choked by dense briers. Looking eastward, my view commands a brushy hillside and willow swale that runs for a quarter of a mile or more to standing corn as far as my binoculars can see. 

It is a bright and balmy afternoon, but as the shadow of my walnut tree lengthens, and the day heads toward dusk, I catch aerial movement in my left peripheral view. This freezes any slight movement I may be making, because while I know this intruder probably is not a deer, I want to see it as it buzzes past. And I do not want to spook whatever it may be. 

Seconds later this sharp-shin I take (by size) to be a female zips in at supersonic speed and wing-brakes with feathers afluff on the limb of a little hackberry tree.  . . two to three feet from my face. 

As the bird relaxes, its nervous reaction tells me it knows this strange mountain of protoplasm perched on top of the ladder is not quite right. But, while making a decision about what evasive action it might take to escape, it offers a great chance to record its features. 

With unblinking eyes that must be as big as saucers, I know I can’t even think about reaching for the camera that hangs from a limb to my right.  “Just try to remember as much as you can about this beautiful lady’s features,” I tell myself, in the minute (give or take some seconds) that I have to drink her in. 

The episode ends as she takes her typical headlong dive from her perch, her wings unfolding and grasping the air to propel her low, fast, on an erratic, zigzag course across the picked soybean field, over the willow swale, and out of sight. 

When she is gone, and I am trying to calm an industrial-strength case of “buck fever,” I ask myself: “OK, big hunter, what did you see?” But for all of her beauty and intriguing features I  wanted to store forever in my faulty cerebellum, I can only remember wild, dark-red eyes, the long, bright-bright yellow legs conspicuously void of  feathers, and the four crosswise, half-inch-wide black streaks on the underside of a long tail. I will settle for that. 

PAULA YEAGER--Memorial services for Paula Yeager, executive director of the Indiana Wildlife Federation (IWF) for the last six years, were conducted at Randall & Roberts Funeral Home at Fishers Monday afternoon. 

Paula died on November 9 of an eight-year fight with cancer, but not before she knew the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) had officially taken control of Goose Pond, a huge southwestern Indiana wetlands area that she--and the IWF--had strived to save with other partners in the acquisition. 

Having been honored by the DNR as the 2001 Conservationist of the Year, Paula will be remembered as a fierce fighter for wildlife and natural resources, and as the spearhead in the fight against deer-pen hunting. But she was active in many facets of the state and national conservation picture. Her husband, John, has asked that memorial contributions to the IWF be sent to that organization, 950 Rangeline Road, Suite A, Carmel, IN  46032.

Cliick on thumbnail image for enlarged view.

PaulaYeager.jpg (47992 bytes)
Paula Yeager died at age 50 after an eight-year battle with cancer, and a six-year fight for Hoosier natural and wildlife resources.

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

 Return to beginning of document
Return to Bayou Bill's Home Page