"Bayou Bill" Scifres
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Legislative Inaction Costs DFW Over $700,000 Annually
Copyright © 2007 by Bill Scifres

The senior license to fish is back in business this year in the Legislature, but it is not expected by the authorities to go any further this year than last, or any other year in its lengthy history. 

As it stands now in the House Committee of Natural Resources, the bill would (if passed) provide an extra $700,000 or there-abouts for the Division of Fish and Wildlife, which doesn’t seem to have any unsurpassable problems of divesting itself of an estimated $30-million or so, including federal matching funds. 

This has been an ongoing thing in the Indiana General Assembly and the Governor’s office you might say (if you wanted to be real corny) “since Hector was a pup.” But while it seems promising every year, that is the end of the line for the trolley, and we drop another million or so in federal matching funds.

It apparently isn’t a “do-or-die” situation, for Division and Fish and Wildlife still is operating. The point--in this real, live case--being that state government is giving old folks something every year and one little arm of state government is paying for it. As they would say where I come from,” “Hit don’t get no better then that” especially for those unfortunate souls who get elected to the Legislature.

You see, many years ago (somewhere around the 1930, I believe), Congress authorized the formation of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and established nationwide excise tax on some outdoor paraphernalia to fund it. Some excess funding is returned to the states in the form of matching funds for state and federal partners. A 75-25 split is usual and it can be used by the state fish and wildlife agency in many ways, but certainly related to outdoors. 

DFW officials point out that the state has some 90,000 citizens who are getting the right to fish fee. Not all of them fish, but those who do fish are costing the state some $711,000 each year.

That’s where the rub comes in. There have been years in the past when we didn’t have enough of the 25 percent to use all of the 75 percent. Now we have it, I am told. But when we can’t use federal matching funds, they simply are apportioned to other states. It boils down to the fact that our share may be going elsewhere.

The concept was considered last summer by the Legislature’s Summer Study Committee, a panel of bipartisan legislators that has a purpose, in effect, of separating potential legislative seed from chaff. The concept always has a lot of support in the summer, but it tends to die.

Could it be that the $3 fishing license for senior citizens would amount to another loss of clout for the legislature. 

Shed Hunting

An unsigned e-mail poses this question on shed (deer antler) hunting.

Question: My question is when is the best time to go hunting for shed antlers? I live in Grant County IN. I know you are very busy but I may be too late already for all I know. If you find the time could you please e-mail me back? Thank you for your time.

Answer: Shed hunting can start as early as November, but generally it does not start to roll really good until late December. It may carry over with some animals until the spring, but the bulk of the action will be in January and the first part of February.

However, the shed hunter must remember that other animals will cause some chewing damage to the shed if it is left in  a discarded condition for long periods of time. The same can be said of mouse and rat damage, although I have had no damage to trophies, nor do I know of anyone who has.

Ordinarily, only one side of an antler will be found, but I have heard of a few where both sides were recovered. A good bet is thick underbrush that is bisected by a deer trail, or both sides of a high fence or obstruction that causes deer to jump (and thus dislodge weakening antler anchors). Winter rubs, however, could produce. Like a loose tooth drives you batty.

I like to hunt sheds as I hunt rabbits.

This website, (www.bayoubill.com) is stocked with a number of references to shed hunting.

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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