Opening of the North Zone early general waterfowl
season (for ducks and geese) last weekend may have been shy of the norm,
and the instant replay for South and Ohio River zones the next two Saturdays,
respectively, probably will be an even bigger busted balloon.
Still, the North Zone offered some hunting last
weekend and it probably will be a ditto come Saturday in South Zone. I
wouldn’t touch the opener of the Ohio River Zone with the proverbial 10-foot
pole. You see, this short open season is only designed for that small army
of Hoosiers who want some wood ducks for their sweet tooth.
There is, however, a smattering of other ducks
in the North Zone and some of those are legal. But the vast majority
of ducks in the north now are woodies and teal.
The early seasons on ducks will run through Friday
(Oct. 19) in the North Zone (roughly the northern one-third of the state),
and through Oct. 28 in South and Ohio River zones (roughly the remainder
of the state). The early season on ducks in the Ohio River Zone opens
Oct. 27 and closes Oct 28, two days.
This, of course, is a happy time for those who
hunt small and mid-sized streams for woodies, especially in the South Zone.
Woodies depend on a diet of grain and small nuts (especially acorns) and
that (for my money, at least) gives them a far superior taste. Many of
the wood ducks we harvest are hatched along Indiana streams.
At the calculated risk of sounding like a broken
record, I will point out that jump-shooting woodrows on small streams while
keeping an eye open for squirrels, and others of nature’s goodie bin, is
a fantastic experience--and most productive.
Kankakee and Willow Slough state fish and wildlife
areas reported fair concentrations of ducks--mostly woodies and teal--last
weekend and full blinds (they were boh operating on a reservation plan
the first two days) and the migrants were far better in the north. The
cool snap of last week brought down some ducks. Of course the Canada goose
population stays pretty constant this time of year statewide, thanks to
resident flocks. North flights are not yet here.
Kankakee operated on a reservation system the
first weekend, but open to all comers after that.
trapping season for coyote and red/gray fox opened today, October 15 (fox
continues through January 31 and coyote through March 15), but trapping
season for mink, muskrat, raccoon and other species doesn’t open until
Bruce Plowman doesn’t quite know what to make
of the trapping season this year, but he does say muskrat (the bread-and-butter
fur-bearer in Indiana) could well be down considerably because of the drought.
“Streams and other waters are very low now,”
he says, adding that muskrat usually are down in numbers in drought years
because predation in such years hit their young heavily. Mink are probably
the largest predator.
Bruce, the Division of Fish and Wildlife fur-bearer
biologist, is not quite sure how trapping will go for other species.
Figures for the harvest last year are not yet
completed, but to show the importance of trapping, he noted that some 2.2
million pieces of fur were recorded by Hoosiers in the 2005-06 season when
average prices went as follows: Muskrat $3.57, raccoon $5.90, red fox $15.11,
gray fox $17.28, coyote $10.33, ‘possum $1.16, beaver $13.48, mink $14.73,
skunk $2.62, and long-tailed weasel $3.67.
had made mention of this acorn phenomena to my wife a couple weeks ago
as we have a mature oak tree along our driveway. I have owned our place
for 11 years and in all this time have never had so many acorns fall. Probably
more than the last 4 years combined.” --Loren Goodrich, Cass County, IN