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

You can say what you want about the month of November in the Midwest--the weather can be bad, for sure, and it does give us a look at weather to come. But it also gives us the beginning of many hunting seasons--plus Mother Nature’s “Horn Of Plenty” and that says a bunch.

For many years the opening of the upland game season was the big thing--in the good ol’ days of the 40’s we were said (by pretty reliable people) to have bagged as many as two million bob white quail. Those figures bit the proverbial dust many years ago, but quail, rabbit, and pheasant still provide some fine table fare for Hoosier nimrods.

Then we have a shot at deer (gun season produces around 60,000 and we still have good breeding stock remaining), waterfowl (both ducks and geese), fur-bearing animals (for both night hunters and trappers), and throw in crows (I don’t know why anyone would want to kill them; they are smarter than a lot of humans, including “yours truly”).

The early deer season for bow hunters opened Oct 1 and it was of great importance for thousands of Hoosier nimrods--not to mention the non-residents who hunt the length and breadth of the state--than a cursory glance makes obvious. We probably won’t know how many deer they took until next spring some time, but this normally runs in the 20s of thousands. 

That early season for bowmen spans all of October, November, and the first three days of December this year, but more important is the fact that it swings the hunting gates wide open for some third of a million Hoosiers and their counterparts from other states to the middle of March of the ensuing year for a great variety of game birds and animals.

For the records, the early bow season for deer will close, as noted before, on Dec. 3, but it will reopen Dec. 9 with the season for muzzle loading enthusiasts and continue through Jan. 7, 2007. The muzzle loading deer season ends Dec. 24, and the regular firearms season (shotguns), which opens on Nov. 18, closes on Dec. 3. 

In last year’s deer seasons James “Jim” Mitchell, Indiana deer biologist, counted 125,500 deer taken by some 160,000 hunters. Breaking the harvest down, Mitchell noted some 23,700 deer were taken by bow, 29,700 by muzzle loading enthusiasts, and the remainder by firearms. That would include 12, 16 and 20-gauge shotguns with slugs, and handguns.

Seasons for other species coming up with openers this fall--or already underway--include wild turkey, the second for fall; waterfowl (ducks and geese); upland game, rabbit, quail, and pheasant, once the darling of  fall-winter nimrods; squirrel (changes coming, probably in 2007), early migrating birds (woodcock, common snipe, woodcock, and sora rail, and mourning doves), and fur-bearing animals (mainly fox (red and gray), beaver, raccoon, mink, and others. Then, of course, there is always trapping for the fur-bearers, some stretching into mid-March.

That should be enough seasons to keep the busiest outdoors person occupied until the ides of March is breathing down our necks. But if you need a little more outdoors activity there’s always crows (they are lousy as food), the season for which opens Dec. 13 and ends the following March 1.

For more a better understanding of these regulations for these species see   the “2006-2007 Hunting and Trapping Guide” (printed by the Department of Natural Resources, DNR). Printed in slick magazine format, it is free at most license outlets.

Incidentally, if you are to hunt the wild birds and animals listed above, you will need a license, whatever your age may be, to be legal. There are some exemptions, especially if you own or manage the land you will hunt. But plan, generally, on holding a license to hunt the species you will quest for. The general hunting license, for example, covers upland game, but if you will also hunt deer, waterfowl, or wild turkey you will need additional permits, some federal (in the case of waterfowl), some state (also in the case of waterfowl) and some both state and federal. Funds derived by license fees sales are used by the 

DNR are dedicated to the conservation of wildlife, about $16-million annually before federal matching funds are added.

A license may be secured in person, by mail, by telephone, or computer (see directions in the afore-mentioned Hunting Guide). There are Many vendors selling hunting licenses throughout the state.

Hunting is big business in Indiana, if you don’t think it is, consider the fact that it generates much income for Hoosiers. 

A report of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service indicates that in 2001 (the report is made at five-year intervals) hunting revenue of Indiana was something like $265,152,000. That, of course does not include salaries generated by hunting-related activities.

The International Association did some checking on deer alone in 2001. They found that deer alone generated $180,000,000 that year. Applying a “multiplier effect,” (a wide variety of revenue applications) that figure became $350,000,000 for that year.

If you didn’t do anything outdoors but harvest the dozens of forms of Mother Nature’s Horn of Plenty you would keep busy from late summer until well after November frosts set in. And they all come free for the taking. As a matter of fact, combining the many forms of hunting with foraging for, and collecting, Nature’s bounty can make November one of the busiest months of the year for Midwesterners.

That can even throw fishing into the pot, however incidental it may be.  Take the case, for example, when a few years ago in November when I was jump shooting ducks on Salt Creek in the Kurtz area.

It is a tough physical form of hunting, but I was bank stalking for wood ducks and squirrels. Throwing in some opportunity to harvest, hickory nuts, black walnuts, butternuts, mushrooms, etc. My gear included a telescope spinning outfit and some rubber worms and surface-running lures.

I had sneaked woodies in a large, fallen maple tree that was riding a yard above the cold, dark water and had killed my limit. I had retrieved one duck from open water, but the second fell in the partially inundated tree. Not only do they float, they are the prime eating duck in my book. In desperation, as darkness closed on me, I crawled out on the downed tree to try and retrieve the second duck with my fishing pole and a sinking worm. I already had lost my surface lures.

Loose line let the rubber worm sink and before I could hook the duck, a nice, 10-inch crappie grabbed the worm and I tossed it to the weeds and brush on the bank. More short drops produced more crappies before I, at length, hooked the duck and retrieved it.

It was a tremendous way to end a beautiful day.

A dinner of baked wood duck and fried crappie filets the next day was “fit for a king,” and indeed, it was (with the trimmings, of course). At least I thought I was a king while eating.

Combining the quest for Nature’s bounty with hunting or fishing requires some preparation before one leaves home. For instance, my kit for these things require an empty bucket for picking up nuts as walnuts and hickory nuts, burlap bags for storing them temporarily until I get home, shallow-sided boxes so I can collect mushy persimmons and stack them only two or three deep, both plastic grocery sacks and the larger paper grocery bags, and a lot of old newspaper for keeping messy things clean. I don’t always use everything I take, but its there if it is needed. The processing freezing, eating, or whatever I do with the things brought home can be done at my leisure.

I start this process by lining the trunk (or other storage area of my vehicle) with a water (and stain) proof tarpaulin. This makes the vehicle-cleaning job less difficult--just take it out when it is empty and shake it in the driveway. It will be ready for another outing.

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All columns 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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