"Bayou Bill" Scifres
Dedicated to the conservation and enjoyment of Indiana's natural resources
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Safe Boating
Copyright © 2007 by Bill Scifres

With National Safe Boating Week coming on May 19, anglers by the thousands soon will be headed to the water, and there are literally dozens of things they can do--including staying dry in two important ways--to get afloat and stay that way, SAFELY!

First and foremost, with the U.S. Coast Guard estimating that there are some 14-million boats registered in the country, and some 8,600 boating accidents every year, there seems to be plenty of room for better operating. Incidentally, the C.G. also says those accidents leave 900 people dead and another 4,400 injured. Stacks up, doesn’t it?

It is generally believed that boating accidents have more than tripled in the last decade, but it also is believed that there is hope for better things to come. Shucks, it could even happen now with a few grains of common sense sprinkled around here and there. Boating safety, in the final analysis is nothing more than the application of common sense.

There are, for example boating accidents caused by many failures and foibles. But negligence by the operator is the greatest cause--at least involving the driver of one of the craft in two-boat crashes. Still, inattention, careless or reckless operation, or fast speed is often blamed. Alcohol abuse is the greatest contributor. Some 600 crashes are caused each year by equipment failures.

So what is to be done to help curb (so to speak) boating accidents?

Although the C.G. Auxiliary, formed in 1939 and now active in every state, has many suggestion to improve safe boating, very high on its list is taking a safe-boating course, and live by what you learned. Such courses will be found in every state, and all Canadian provinces. If you have difficulty in finding a safe-boating course, your local conservation officer or C.G. Auxiliary will help.

With Easter and Safe Boating Week both on our thresholds, what better gift could one offer a boater than a course of study that can save lives?

A call to the DNR’s Division of Enforcement (317-232-4010) will net you information on safe boating schools.

ALBINISM--A reader has posed some interesting questions concerning a partially albino squirrel.

 “We have a squirrel in out woods that comes up around the house with his buddies.

He’s almost entirely white, his head , back ,and down his legs. Not an albino. I’ve never seen one like this. Have you? Is this common?”
While I do not consider myself an authority on albinism, I have seen a number of wild animals and birds affected in some way with albinism. 

Albinism is a hereditary weakness in the critter affected and may be complete or partial (incomplete, it is called). Furthermore, I have heard a number of people talk of killing anything that is so affected (and in any degree) to eliminate (or control) it. Others say that is a Hitler attitude. It is not for me to decide, but I tend to think birds and animals so afflicted are rather interesting. 

Although one does not encounter an albino or partial every day, they are not greatly unusual.

FREEZING MINNOWS--Another reader would like to know if there is a method for freezing minnows (presumably for fish bait) to avoid their becoming “mushy.”

Frankly, when I fish with a minnow for bait, I like it alive. However, a dead minnow allowed to “ripen” in the sun, can be a pretty good catfish bait when wormed on a hook and stepped lightly upon. 

Freezing methods for minnow fish bait will be given more space if others care to share their secrets.   

Dead minnows of all sizes are used effectively, at times, as a dressing for the hooks of artificials.

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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