"Bayou Bill" Scifres
Dedicated to the conservation and enjoyment of Indiana's natural resources
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Mixing and Matching Outdoor Pleasures
Copyright © 2005 by Bill Scifres

I couldn’t believe my eyes.

I sat in the swivel chair on the 4-by-12 platform of the sprangling, old osage-orange tree to watch wave after wave of a duke’s mixture of waterfowl--both ducks and Canada honkers--circle and dive beyond the hill that blocked my view of the farm pond that I knew so well.

I knew where they were going. I also knew that I couldn’t hunt them--at least not until I had my annual supply of venison in the freezer.

Still, I drooled as I watched them pile into the pond each morning at 8:15 a.m., and again at 4:30 p.m. They were as regular as Big Ben.

After two or three days of ogling these winged aerial circuses (not to mention a dearth of deer action), I moved to a ladder stand at the top of the hill that hid my view of the farm pond. The birds still came with stunning regularity. With binoculars, I could watch as the top layer of the pond’s water (the ducks and geese) spilled onto the pond’s banks and walked into the surrounding picked cornfields to feed.

Then I got lucky. A nice buck tried to slip past me, and the venison situation took a decided upturn. After that, it was only a matter of changing barrels on the Remington 1100, finding the steel shot, and hiding in the large bed of cattails at the shallow end of the pond (in a lawn chair, yet).

It was the best of all worlds, yet it happens every year in Hoosierland for those who avail themselves of the luxury of mixing and matching the outdoor pleasures that combine with waterfowl like bacon and eggs.

In short, this experience from yesteryear is another way of saying that the firearms deer season remains open through Sunday (Nov. 27), and the seasons for waterfowl hunting  (ducks and geese) opens lengthy runs Friday (Nov. 25). That translates into three days of deer/duck hunting opportunity.

The waterfowl season of the state’s North Zone (roughly the northern third of the state) opened Oct. 22 and will continue through Dec. 17. The seasons of the South Zone (roughly the central two-thirds of the state) will continue through Jan. 20 for ducks, Jan. 30 for geese), and the Ohio River Zone waterfowl seasons will open on Thanksgiving Day and continue through Jan. 20 for ducks, ands Jan. 30 for geese. The Ohio River Zone is a thin strip along the Indiana shore of the Ohio River.

Although our weather of the last month or so has kept the number of migrating ducks and geese at modest levels, it has helped keep some wood ducks here longer than usual. This, of course, translates into the fact that some woodies still will be available for jump shooting on smaller rivers and streams. Lower air temperatures could push more of the woodies out of the state because this species does not like below freezing temperatures.

The weather also has helped to make the Monroe Reservoir waterfowl hunting picture somewhat brighter. A month ago, reservoir officials feared a drawdown for construction work would curtail waterfowling some in the second part of the split seasons. But Monroe’s Stillwater Marsh and other man-made marshlands of the North Fork area are flooded now and the hunting should be good if cooler air temperatures push more birds into the central part of the state.

On five days of the South Zone season, the first 10 blind selections at Monroe will be reserved, but even on these days there will be 10 to 12 blinds available for walk-on hunters.

Monroe has a calendar available to help potential hunters decide when they should make the trip with waterfowling in mind. It is available by calling the Monroe Reservoir office (812-837-9546, not a toll-free call). Rex Watters, Monroe wildlife biologist, suggests that those planning hunts at Monroe this year should call the Monroe office before they go to hunt.

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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