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
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
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
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.