"Bayou Bill" Scifres
Dedicated to the conservation and enjoyment of Indiana's natural resources
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Waterfowl Almost Everywhere
Copyright © 2006 by Bill Scifres

The height of water levels is not ideal for jump shooting rivers and streams of the state for waterfowl and squirrels and other floating combination hunts, but chances are better this week than last week, and well worth such outdoor efforts. 

White Riverís west fork--neither fork for that matter--didnít get as high as some had anticipated to create ideal conditions for a duck-squirrel float, but it still would be worth a try.

Water levels are not critical for squirrels (Mr. Bushytail figures water is water, life goes on), but high water--even water at flood stage creates ideal conditions for getting close to ducks because they often spend much time during daylight hours in inundated brush and weeds of high banks, oblivious of brush and camouflaged boats (carrying hunters) that come down the river.

If you have never sat the seat of a boat with a "smoke pole" in your hands while hundreds--even thousands--of waterfowl jump into frantic flight, one of the outdoors premier events has eluded you.

But I must say--here and now--that enjoying this facet of nature entails certain inherent risks of said high water. A small boat, for example, should never be overloaded not to mention dozens of other dangers of high and swift water that start with a good floatation device that will keep a boater above water if he spills. Be careful. It is dangerous to float; loaded guns compound the safety factor.

Adam Phelps, waterfowl biologist for he Division of Fish and Wildlife, says a good flight of birds hit the southern part of the state last Friday as a result of the recent weather. They seem to be well distributed, he said, adding that the hunting has been good at Monroe Reservoir and the Stillwater Marsh complex (daily bags have been ranging above 40 birds).

Glenn McCormick, manager, says there is some  ice up there in the northwestern part of the state, but he says they still host some 5,000 birds at Kankakee State Fish and Wildlife Area.

So basically there are some ducks almost everywhere in the state.

The thing that you should remember about doing a camouflage job on a boat--or building a blind on shore or in shallow water, is that you merely want to break the lines of the hunters. It is not important to build a castle. I built such a blind one time years ago when I was preparing for some wood duck gunning.

It was on a big bend in the Muscatatuck River. The woodies were using the bend like crazy, and the late Jack Cain, one of my mentors, and I figured limits for the pot were assured. 

There was only one problem. Our castle of logs and brush were just too imposing--the ducks shunned the bend for some time like the plague.

Another time we were tummy stalking a bunch of woodies when Jack rolled over on his side, and jotted on a piece of grocery sack that we would rise and shoot our limits. When the smoke had cleared, there wasnít a feather on the water. 

Later in the afternoon we would do an instant replay of the stalk, but this time his scribbled message read that we would rise and shoot like idiots.

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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