"Bayou Bill" Scifres
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Recent Rambles
Copyright © 2005 by Bill Scifres

Indianaís first fall season on wild turkey will be the highlight of this October, but that does not mean that deer (for bow hunters), wood ducks, squirrels, and several species of piscatorial citizens will not command their share of the golden glory of early fall. 

Then, of course, there is the indisputable fact that that Mother Natureís  (MNís) big garden of natural goodies matures in October, and those who harvest these residuals of summer have their days. Indiana's first fall turkey hunting season will run October 1 to October 23. Archery equipment can be used the entire season. Firearms will be allowed from October 19 to October 23. 

Hunters should have a resident or non-resident fall turkey license and a game bird habitat stamp privilege. Indiana comprehensive lifetime hunting or comprehensive youth hunting licenses can also be used to hunt a fall wild turkey. Some farmland owners or active military personnel on leave are eligible for resident license exemptions. 

Non-resident hunters from states that require an Indiana resident to purchase an additional license to hunt turkeys must also purchase an annual non-resident hunting license to hunt turkeys in Indiana. This means residents of the adjacent states of Illinois, Kentucky and Ohio need an annual non-resident hunting license, a non-resident fall turkey license and a game bird habitat stamp privilege. Wisconsin and Michigan residents may hunt with a non-resident turkey license and a game bird habitat stamp privilege. 

The fall turkey bag limit is one wild turkey of either sex per fall Shooting hours are one half hour before sunrise to sunset. Hunters should immediately tag their turkey with a paper stating the hunter's name, address, and date of kill and sex of bird. 

Turkeys can be checked at deer check stations within 48 hours. The tag issued by the check station should be affixed to the leg of the turkey through a section of skin or flesh until processing. 

Some DNR properties with high hunter use or high spring hunter demand may limit fall turkey hunting. All other spring turkey hunting regulations, such as restrictions on shot sizes, legal weapons, baiting, dogs and electronic calls and decoys, will be in effect for the fall season. 

Counties where bow hunting will be allowed are: Bartholomew, Brown, Cass, Clark, Clay, Crawford, Daviess, Dearborn, Decatur, Dekalb, Dubois, Fayette, Floyd, Franklin, Fountain, Fulton, Gibson, Greene, Harrison, Jackson, Jasper--north of State Highway 114 or east of Interstate 65, Jefferson, Jennings, Johnson, Knox, LaGrange, LaPorte,  Lawrence, Marshall, Martin, Monroe, Montgomery, Morgan, Newton - north of State  Highway 114, Ohio, Orange, Owen, Parke, Perry, Pike, Posey, Pulaski, Putnam,  Ripley, St. Joseph, Scott, Spencer, Starke, Steuben, Sullivan, Switzerland,  Tippecanoe, Union, Vanderburgh, Vermillion, Vigo, Warren, Warrick, Washington  and Wayne. 

Counties where fall wild turkey hunting with a firearm will be allowed from October 19 through October 23, 2005 are: Brown, Clark, Crawford, Dearborn, Dubois, Floyd, Franklin, Greene--east of the White River, Harrison, Jackson, Jefferson, Jennings, Lawrence, Martin, Monroe, Ohio, Orange, Owen, Perry, Pike, Ripley, Scott, Spencer, Switzerland, Warrick, and Washington  That October 1 is the opener  for both the fall wild turkey season and the early bow season for deer speaks  volumes about hunting opportunities for both species. 

It is almost a given that many early-bow deer hunters will have a fall turkey license in their pocket, and that they will exercise these documents if a wild turkey chances to be within broad head range. In its simplest terms, this offers the best of two hunting opportunities. 

Mix and match squirrels with our stateís largest game bird, and it is easy to see unlimited opportunity for an early fall hunt. 

To give an October hunt even greater latitude, the two-day early waterfowl seasons (ducks and geese) will coincide with fall season on turkey in both North and South Zones (not in the Ohio River Zone). Squirrels also will be fair game at that time. 

The early North Zone season on ducks and geese is set for October 8-10. South Zone season on these species will be October 15-17. And the Ohio River Zone hunting will be October 29-30 (after the fall turkey season has concluded. Hoosier hunters have combined squirrel and duck hunting on small streams of central and southern parts of the state for many years. In view of the fact that water adjacent to woodlands is an important element for wild turkeys (as it is for squirrels and woodrows), it would seem that a well-concealed hunter might have a shot at multiple species by watching known haunts of wood ducks. 

Although mallards are the all-around bread-and-butter duck of Hoosierland, woodies are the stars of the early-season show. Frankly, I would rather spend one afternoon stalking squirrels and woodies on tree/cornfield-lined creek banks than a week in a duck blind for other waterfowl species. The lure of the mixed bag is difficult to deny, especially at dinnertime. 

Steel shot are required for waterfowl hunting, and they are not as efficient as lead shot. But if waterfowl are to be part of the bag, steel shot is a must. State and federal regulations provide that it is unlawful to even have steel shot in possession while hunting waterfowl. 

Being something less than a rock-solid turkey hunter, I find myself in a boat with a lot of other Hoosier outdoor folks, including those who have had their share of success at spring turkey hunting.  Nobody is quite sure how to go about scragging a wild turkey in the fall when mating is the furthest thing from a wild turkey's mind--hen, gobbler or jake. 

To get a better idea on techniques I might employ in trying my luck in this first fall season, I asked Phil Hawkins, a good friend from Franklin, and a pioneer of bow, muzzle-loading rifle and shotgun for both deer and turkey. 
Phil says he, like many other bow hunters who have spent many years hunting deer with the bow, is not real fired up about this fall turkey season.  "I'm not going to get real serious about it," Phil says, adding that he will hunt turkey along with deer. Phil will hunt deer and he will draw on a wild turkey if a bird gets within range. But he does not intend to spend a lot of time in quest of a turkey when there are monster bucks about. 

Incidentally, Phil tells of an encounter with a small flock of turkeys while out for gray squirrels in the last week of September. He was in a favorite wooded area that he knew hosted gray squirrels, deer and turkey. But he was there for squirrels. 

"I saw five (turkeys) I could have shot with a bow . . . the old-fashioned way to hunt turkey in the fall is to find a flock and scatter them by shooting in the air and making a lot of noise . . . them sit down and call them back in." 

Phil says something spooked the birds he saw and in a matter of minutes the birds were talking to each other as they regrouped. 

"They are wary," Phil says. "It doesn't take much to spook them." 

Phil says he also saw several deer and gray squirrels while observing the turkeys, so it is not unlikely that he will be back there with a ladder stand very soon. 

The gleaning of MNís bounty is free . . . no license required . . . just arm yourself with an array of bags, boxes and other temporary storage items, and the prime ingredients of many dishes (not to mention decorations for the home) are yours. 

Hickory nuts, black walnuts, persimmons, paw-paws, and many other products of nature have been discussed in previous dispatches that will be found with the search engine of this web page. The search engine is located at the bottom of the opening page. 

The fall turkey season could also be combined with fall fishing, especially on streams and rivers that bisect tracts of timber or thickets. Although the wild turkey is a wily bird, it also is curious. Thus a leisurely float for fishing probably will put many anglers in shotgun range of wild turkeys. 

Those who carry a scattergun may reap an added bonus to their stringer. Ruffed Grouse, though at a low ebb in Indiana for several years, also are fair game in October, and they like the same habitats as wild turkeys and gray squirrels.

Click on thumbnail image for enlarged view.

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Hoosier hunters have been able to combine squirrel and wood duck hunting for years . . . Now they can add turkey. This turkey on the run may illustrate the best shot Hoosier hunters will have during the fall season. (Photo by Constance Woodward)

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All columns, stories, 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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