"Bayou Bill" Scifres
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Early Waterfowl Season Opens
Copyright © 2007 by Bill Scifres

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--The 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 November 15.
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.

MORE ACORNS—“I 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

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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