Christmas Day’s rain could have been some kind
to gift to Hoosier waterfowlers--and it will be helpful. But it will not
bring streams and rivers to flood stage.
Still streams and river will be running higher
than winter-normal levels and that will make floating jump shoots more
attractive than such activities were before the rain came.
True, the latest weekly waterfowl survey of the
Division of Fish and Wildlife showed considerably fewer ducks in the state,
but there still are good numbers of birds out there for those who will
do some scouting to find them. The weekly waterfowl surveys of the DFW
are not intended to establish estimates on how many ducks and geese are
in the state, but rather to indicate trends of the waterfowl migration.
The rain of Christmas Day also was a boon to waterfowl
hunters in that it uncovered a lot of grain in harvested cornfields by
melting the snow that was covered by the big snowstorm of December 8.
A cover of snow is thought to send grain-feeding
birds south, but it also is possible that a good meltdown will bring them
back, especially to the great expanses of harvested cornfields in the flood
plains of larger streams and rivers.
With streams and rivers a few feet above winter
normal levels, floating jump shoots (which can include squirrels) will
be much more popular. And a river or stream that is only a few feet above
winter levels is considerably more safe than the same streams at flood
A small bag of decoys can be important on such
a hunt, especially when ducks are found feeding in cornfields.
The central part of the state recorded heaviest
rainfall on Christmas Day, but lighter rain was recorded in all other parts
of the state.
Sites recording more than half an inch of rain
on Christmas Day were: Anderson .57 inch, Bloomington .62, Butler .51,
Danville .57, Elwood .71, Hartford City .59, Lapel .61, Martinsville .72,
Nashville .59, Noblesville .64, Oolitic .52, and Wabash .55. Rainfall reports
are gathered daily by Ken Scheeringa, climatologist at Purdue University.
Franklin, poses an interesting, snow-related question:
When he lived in Brown County a few years back,
he was out for a walk in the snow “to see what was out there.”
Here, in his own words, is the way his question
“I had not gone very far when I saw a fresh track
in the middle of the path. It took me a while to figure out what it was,
but I was really baffled when I could not find another one (tracks) similar
to this one. After some searching, I found a match some 10 to 12 feet away
in some small bushes. After searching the good track in the path again,
I concluded it must be a cat . . . So I began to follow the tracks, which
went down a hill--all woods here. The tracks were now wider apart--some
almost 18 to 20 feet apart. I suspect the animal saw me coming, or heard
me . . . The tracks were very fresh and the distance now was very distinct.
They went down the hill, across a small creek, and into more scattered
woods. I had been on the place before rabbit hunting--and the tracks I
was following led into a real thicket of small thorny trees and brush and
weeds . . . Needless to say, not being armed, I wouldn’t go in there. .
I still believe it was a cat--but what kind of cat?”
Answer: Sandlin points
out, size of the tracks in the path indicated they could have been left
by anything from a big domestic cat to a cougar. But the distance between
tracks (18 to 20 feet) could only have been made by something larger than
a bobcat, more specifically a cougar.
The scientific community of Indiana--including
biologists--tend to pooh-pooh the idea that Indiana hosts cougars. But
occasionally, sightings of big cats are reported, especially in the hardwood
hills country of the southern third of the state. Some of the reported
sightings could be anything but true. But over the years, my own experiences,
and those of other reliable outdoors folks, have indicated our wild country
could host big cats . . . cougars.
Generally, having observed numerous animals (not
including cats) in escape situations in snow and on “dry” land, I see the
possibility of an animal at full speed covering distances of three to four
times its length, depending upon footing.
Thus, I would say Sandlin was trailing a cougar.