"Bayou Bill" Scifres
Dedicated to the conservation and enjoyment of Indiana's natural resources
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Three Hoosier Outdoor Treasures
Copyright © 2005 by Bill Scifres

 “Old soldiers never die; they only fade away.” 

I will not attempt to credit anyone with penning that nostalgic line of World War I vintage, but the late and great General Douglas MacArthur, of World War II (Pacific) fame, certainly popularized it, as did a country song of that day.

My point being that while folks get old (that beats the alternative), they still kick up their heels occasionally and give young folks something to think about. 

Recently, for example, I have learned that three old and dear friends are making news without crashing the obituary columns. And all of their works over the years have been huge pluses for Hoosier outdoors folks of many persuasions. They are, if you will pardon the analogy, the answer of Hoosier outdoors folks to yesteryear's Chi-Cubs famous baseball double-play combination of Tinkers-to-Evers-to-Chance. 

They are William B. Barnes, for many years a mainstay of the Division of Fish and Wildlife (even when it was the Division of Fish and Game); Dan Gapen, one of the most influential fishing lure manufacturers of Hoosier angling, and a strong draw for the Indianapolis Boat, Sport & Travel Show, and Jack Kerins, of the original television sportsman show of Hoosierland, and a strong contender for that honor in the entire country.

Barnes and Kerins have recently penned books of much interest to Hoosier outdoors folks, and Gapen, also an author of numerous tomes, will return to the Indianapolis Sports Show in February as a manufacturer. Dan has not been here for the Sports Show for 15 years.

Barnes, now 97 years old and living at Huron, South Dakota, did his memoirs, Natural Resources And The Great Depression In Martin County And Central Indiana, for the Indiana Historical Bureau. Bill served the Hoosier wildlife agency for many years before becoming the first director of the Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Nature Preserves.

In his memoirs, Bill shares a 27-year wealth of information on wildlife management techniques and procedures. Many of which led to modern-day biological tools. Published by the Indiana Historical Bureau (IHB), Barnes’ book can be ordered ($14.95 plus postage) by telephone (317-232-2535), or by U.S. mail (140 North Senate Avenue, Indianapolis, IN 46204).

Gapen, who along with the late Bill Hughes (a fishing tackle sales representative for numerous manufacturers) opened the eyes of many Hoosier anglers to the joys of fly fishing. He also is well known in Hoosierland (and elsewhere) as the inventor and producer of the popular Hairy Worm and Ugly Bug lures. The Ugly Bug still occupies a stall in Dan’s stable of lures and other angling paraphernalia. He is considering the possibilities of making a limited number of Hairy Worm lures available at the Sports show.

Details of his appearance at the Sports Show are not yet known but his exhibit will be in the popular “Tackletown” area of the sportsman’s extravaganza scheduled to open February 17.

Kerins’ book, Hooks and Bullets, and Dying Embers, is a beautifully written collection of hunting/fishing/outdoor stories that belongs in every Hoosier nimrod’s book shelves.

As the pages turn from “Hearing The Call” to “Dying Embers” I find myself laughing uproariously or dabbing at tears with my shirtsleeves. And Jack’s stories tell me this man who co-hosted (with Jack Ennis) the “TV-Sportsman Show” at Terre Haute for 21 years, most assuredly is one of our state’s great outdoor writers.

Individual signed copies of Jack’s book are available ($17.95, postage included) by writing him (82 Briarwood, Terre Haute, IN 47803), or by telephone (812-877-1264). Special prices are available on orders for six or more copies.


The December deep freeze has moved most of the ducks and geese out of the North Zone (roughly the northern third of the state), but weekly waterfowl surveys indicate there still are plenty of ducks in the South Zone (roughly the southern two-thirds of the state), and the Ohio River zone (a narrow strip along the Ohio River).

With smaller standing water covered with ice, and harvested cornfields covered with snow, ducks and geese are more dependent on rivers, and this makes it easier to find birds.

Higher temperatures and rain would create ideal conditions for floating jump-shoots, but ducks and geese still will be found on rivers that are at winter normal levels.

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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