This is a column about many things. It is about
the opening of the deer season for firearms (last Saturday, November 17),
about a Noblesville veteran-novice hunter, a brand spanking new muzzle-loading
rifle, and a 17-point buck.
You see, this exciting scenario got rolling last
spring (this is a subplot) when Davis Aerne (pronounced Ernie) was graduated
from Noblesville High School. We should point out at this juncture that
the youthful Aerne had started hunting deer with is father, Dave, a Hamilton
County farmer-hunter (without a gun) at the age of six. Also, that since
he has used both bow and guns he has taken some nine or ten deer. This
one, of course, would be his best rack.
To further complicate the story, Davis, home
for the weekend from Vincennes University, where he studies conservation
and law enforcement, to hunt with Jake McGraw, a young farmer/friend. Jake,
it seems, spots many deer and deer sign as he goes about his Fountain County
chores, so it was not unusual that Davis would place his climbing stand
on a large white oak tree in the edge of a woods (he and I seem to have
a memory lapse when we try to pin down the location of the woods). Eight
fencerows merge nearby. The big boy was not there to eat acorns--just out
for a stroll.
Well, to get on with it (the story, not the stroll),
Davis is sitting in his stand Saturday morning when this 17-point buck
(a typical 14-pointer with three stickers on the right side) strolled up
within Davis’ estimate of 12 yards.
Here the plot thickens. When Davis tried to “cock”
his new front-ender to give the monster buck a new home (he planned a head-and-shoulder
mount as he counted the points through his scope). But the gun would not
fire. Furthermore, with a leftover cap from his father’s guns, he couldn’t
even get the gun cocked.
In a very frustrating four or five minutes, the
big fellow continued his stroll, and Davis was left to ponder the problem.
Simply put, Davis was to realize that this type of cap would not fit his
Incidentally, Davis has pleasant dreams about
becoming a conservation officer in Indiana, Wisconsin, Iowa, South Dakota
or Ohio. And he may not be able to return to the scene right soon.
Indiana Conservation Alliance, a state organization embracing some 30 of
the state’s leading groups, will stage its fourth Conservation Day at the
Statehouse January 10, 2008 for lunch (and ear bending) on issues for the
This affair has gained much clout in the last
three or four years. This year it will focus on the priority issue of the
Great Lakes Compact that potentially creates a water management system
for all state streams and ground water of the Great Lakes Drainage Basin.
Generally, this is an issue that has been touted
by this reporter since the Izaak Walton League of Indiana staged a conference
on stream and river management more than 50 years ago. And now, if you
place credence in the drought reports from across the country, it is sleeping
at the foot of our beds. It begs attention.
Every legislator, and every citizen who drinks
water, should be there. Of course, they won’t.
The idea that the government (local and federal)
should encourage good ground water practices on private lands with subsidies
that would enhance the water table has been pooh-pooed roundly over the
“Water tables are just fine and dandy,” I used
to be told when I broached the subject. But none of the naysayers ever
told me why the water level of rivers and streams was 10 feet lower than
it had been a few years before when I sat with my back against maple trees
on the banks and dangled bare tootsies in cool water .
FOR THE RECORD--The
all-seasons number of 125,381 deer harvest of 2006 was a few shy of the
2005 record of 125,526.