"Bayou Bill" Scifres
Dedicated to the conservation and enjoyment of Indiana's natural resources
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Firearms Deer Season Opens November 18
Copyright © 2006 by Bill Scifres

The firearms deer season is opening, a 16-day run Saturday for firearms through Dec. 3, and will count something like 60,000 deer for Hoosier hunters and their brethren from other states who run smack-dab into one of their busiest times of the year.

When the smoke clears, the gun season is expected by Dr. Jim Mitchell, Indiana deer biologist, to be pretty much like last year’s seasons when a total of 125,500 deer were said to have been taken by residents and out-of-staters for all seasons. That, by the way, was another state record harvest.

Mitchell breaks down harvest figures from last year as 23,700 for bow hunters, 29,700 for muzzle loader enthusiasts, with the remaining deer accounted for by shotgun hunters (12, 16, and 20 gauges, as the numbers get bigger, the bores get smaller). That’s about the way modern-day seasons go. The shotgun hunters must use rifled slugs, of course. 

It seems that we can’t kill enough deer to satisfy the insurance people and some landowners, although rank-and-file Hoosiers rather like to have them around. It is, indeed, regrettable when someone is injured in an automobile collision with a deer. We have close to 10,000 per year. Cars hit many things, including trees and utility poles. Last season was the fifth consecutive state harvest record.

Another regrettable facet of the picture revolves around the fact that three or four hunters may die in deer-stand falls, and a non-reported number will suffer injuries in the same, although most of these will not be reported. Experiments at the national level point out that safety belts won’t do much for you except keep you alive, if you are left hanging, for less than half of one minute. The real thing is a parachute-type full-body harness that will suspend you head-up. But even that is limited in life-saving value.


The newsy people of of an Indianapolis TV channel are in the throes of educating the public on the evils that lurk out there. It has twice done a job (no pun intended) on the Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR’s) paid pheasant-hunting program (without retractions, or corrections) on how said program is a rip-off of the public tax dollar. How sad that somebody did a half-way news clip on the program that allows (and has for many years) thousands of Hoosiers to experience the joys of hunting the big bird at a time when they otherwise could not do this. It (paid shooting) ain’t for me, (this hunting of pen-raised critters is strictly “for the birds” in my book), but the birds (except for mop-up) are always used up in 10 or 12 days (they create a bunch of delightful dishes). 

It would seem that someone either didn’t know (or failed to report} that the paid-hunting program has been self-supporting since the DNR started buying the birds, maybe before. The DNR charges $15 for two birds--a total, mathematically, of at least or $150,000--$10,000 profit. I do not consider myself the sharpest tack in the box, but seven times 20,000 comes out $140,000 on my computer without “taxing” my faulty cerebellum. 

The naked truth is: several people in the Division of Fish and Wildlife, operator of the program and a satellite of the DNR, have been opposed to the program since I broke into the newsy business more than 50 years ago when I wrote the VERY FIRST column about it (the institution of the program). Whether the source divulged all of the information, or whether the TV channel reporter failed to use it all, is a matter of speculatoin. But the paid pheasant program is nothing but GOOD, for any cost it incurs, TV and DNR foes be damned. 


Several persons have inquired about daily bag limits on upland game species since the season for these species opened last Friday (Nov. 10), so I will repeat them here to help those who don’t know and do not have a copy of the DNR's “Indiana Hunting & Trapping Guide" which is published at mid-summer each year. Incidentally it is free for the asking from most hunting license vendors throughout the state and the publisher.

Here, by species, are the bag limits, plus closing dates of the upland game seasons.

RABBIT--Five per day, Jan 31, 2007. This includes a number of state fish and wildlife areas and some other state-operated properties where the season opened Oct. 1.

QUAIL--North of State Road 26, Dec. 24, five per day; South of SR 26, Jan. 15, eight per day. The DNR says bag limits differ for the two parts of the state because quail populations are better in the south.

PHEASANT (male birds only)--Dec. 24, two per day.The prime pheasant range will be found in the northern-tier counties (say two o three deep from the northern border, but some birds may be found in any part of the state. The paid-hunting program starts Saturday (Nov. 18).

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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