"Bayou Bill" Scifres
Dedicated to the conservation and enjoyment of Indiana's natural resources
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Some Game Hunting Seasons Still Open
Copyright © 2007 by Bill Scifres

With some of our hunting seasons closed (a tip-of-the-iceberg thing), we enter the second week of the new year with four  species still offering some outdoor action--waterfowl, rabbits, squirrel and quail (south of U.S. 40)--until Jan.31

To keep it all straight for you, the duck season ended in the North Zone (basically the northern third of the state) on Dec. 19, closes in the South Zone (the southern two-thirds) on Jan. 11, and the Ohio River Zone (a narrow strip along the Ohio River) on Jan.21. For Canada geese the closing dates are Jan. 8 in the North Zone,  Jan. 6 in the Southern James Bay Population Zone, Jan 28  in the South Zone, and Jan. 31 in the Ohio River Zone.

A special season on light geese will open Feb. 1 and continue through March 31 for those who have a permit to take snow and blue geese and others of that species. The permits are free at any Fish and Wildlife area reservoir office. Other waterfowl regulations will be effective.

The special season is being tried by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to cut the number of these birds that are said to be so numerous that they are destroying their breeding ranges in Canada.

The season on rabbits statewide closes Jan. 31.  

The season on squirrels closed Dec. 31 in that part of the state north of U. S. 40, but it remains open to Jan 31 south of that highway. Squirrels, too, have had booming reproductive success.

So what does one hunt for at this beginning of the end until wild turkey strut their stuff in the spring? Well, there is a pretty good slug of waterfowl in the state and the weatherman has been cooperating with plenty of surface water and the warmest December I have seen.

As of last week’s waterfowl survey, Division of Fish and Wildlife biologists found some 5,000 ducks (mostly the bread and butter mallard) on the northern areas involved, and some 8,000 (also mainly mallards) on the more-numerous southern areas. Add (speculate) the fact that birds hanging out on small surface water will boost those numbers and you are focused on some pretty good duck hunting. Of course squirrels are fat and sassy now, thanks to Indiana’s field corn. They make delightful dishes of squirrel dumplings at this juncture, but they can be fried, too, if you steam them after frying. Note: How to make rolled-out dumplings (gramma style) will be found on this website (www.bayoubill.com).

With streams and rivers bulging with recent rains, the best bet could be a floating jump shoot for ducks and squirrels on mid-sized to larger streams and rivers in the areas where both are open. But an afternoon of gunning over blocks has some potential.

The quail? Well, you should have the services of a pretty good dead-bird dog if you are going to hunt them, but there are some birds around, albeit the annual harvest is enough to make dyed-in-the-wool bird hunters cry when compared to that of yesteryear. The Bob White quail is such a marvelous citizen, both in the field and in the pan.

Rabbit, as you suspected, are spotty, as usual. Find good, heavy cover, and there probably are some rabbits about. This warm winter probably has kept some in a reproductive mode. Your best bet will be found at old homesteads where buildings, or ruins thereof, remain. But rabbits, like other wild critters, are where you find them.

CONSERVATION DAY--The Indiana Conservarion Alliance (INCA) will stage its third annual Conservation Day at the Statehouse Rotunda on Jan. 23 in the morning. Member organizations set up tables that explain their conservation projects and legislators, and other citizens are invited to attend. 

The organization is working to further its conservation-funding ideas to help legislators. INCA wants $6-million budgeted for Indiana Heritage Trust, $6-million for the state clean water program, and $1 million for farmland protection and lane use.

EAGLE WATCH--Eagle Watch programs will be staged at Patoka Reservoir (phone, 812-685-2447), Jan. 13, and Cecil M Harden Lake, Feb. 10 (phone, 765-344-1884).

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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