"Bayou Bill" Scifres
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Rabbits, Quail, Hawks, Legislature
Copyright © 2008 by Bill Scifres

To set the matter straight: Yes, the rabbit season closes Thursday [Jan. 31, 2008]--you can legally hunt dryshins that day. No, the rabbit season does not close until Feb. 15. Swamp rabbits are protected.

What kind of gibberish is that?, you may ask . . . justifiably. Well, itís a little complicated . . . maybe more than a little.

Opening and closing dates of the general Upland Game rabbit season is listed in the DFW Hunting Guide as Nov. 9, 2007 to Feb. 15, 2008. That presumably includes the entire state.

So far, so good.

However, the same hunting guide tells me that a special season on rabbits is open on a good number of state properties only from Oct. 1, 2007 through Jan. 31, 2008.

Thus, although the general season on rabbits applies to the entire state, it doesnít.
Frankly, I donít know whether rabbits can be hunted after the special season or not. On Atterbury, Chinook, Blue Grass, Crosley, Fairbanks Landing Glendale, Hillenbrand, Jasper Pulaski, Kankakee, Kingsbury, LaSalle, Minnehaha, Sugar Ridge, Splinter Ridge, Pigeon River Tri-County, Wilbur Wright, Willow Slough, and Winnamac State Fish and Wildlife Areas or not. This same confusing regulation also applies to Brookville, Hardy, Roush, Missinewa, Monroe, Patoka and Salamonie reservoir properties.

Hereís the gist of the situation. An employee of the Division of Fishand Wildlife  tells me the rabbit season does, indeed, close on Jan. 31 at the aforementioned state properties. Thus, do not go to these properties after said date (Jan. 31) expecting to hunt rabbits.

Although folks at the DFW, keepers of the Hunting Guide, seem to well understand the scenario (and I had that inkling), I fear there are a lot of hunters, toting a lot of licenses, who donít because of double talk.

NEW WRINKLE--Don Lindeman, Indianapolis, tells me an interesting story about hunting quail on shooting preserves.

Last week Don had taken his Brittany, Sophie, to Royal Flush, a shooting preserve south of Rockville in the western side of the state for a training session on planted quail. The dog pointed a single bird, and when it flushed, it buzz-bombed over a slight rise in the terrain Don dropped it.

When they went over the rise looking for more birds, they flushed a northern harrier, a large hawk, carrying a quail that had been stocked for them. It was a northern harrier and it flopped off with the bird they were hunting.

Owner of the preserve told Don the big guy, strictly protected under state and federal law, hangs out at the preserve waiting for a free lunch.

They simply watch for Brownís truck going around the property as a cue to hunt.

Brown says there is nothing you can do about it. Hawks and owls--all birds of prey--are strictly protected (big fine) by both state and federal agencies.

The northern harrier is a beautiful and big bird . . . maybe a wingspan of a yard. It often hunts from perches or rides the air currents in a low, methodical, speedy flight over harvested fields.

From my deer stand (10 feet above the earth against a big walnut tree), I once was involved in a point-blank staring contest with a harrier for more than a minute before I blinked. That sent the hawk on his way.

LEGISLATIVE WATCH--Although Rep. John Ulmerís bill on the right to hunt, fish, and pursue game has been assigned to the death committee by Sen. Patrick Bauer, Ulmer is to be congratulated for the good fight that has been ongoing without success since 2001. We can hope he will try again next year. 

Elsewhere, HB 1060, and SB 45, similar Great Lakes Compact measures designed to give our water more protection, have passed respective houses and await further action in their new houses. They needed to pass their originating houses by Wednesday.

HB 1046, the apprentice hunting license bill, also passed the House last week and awaits Senate action.

Indianapolis, January 31, 2008--Developing in the legislature is a glimmering hope for the concept of the right to hunt, fish and pursue game, but it still is more than somewhat nebulous.

The HJR resolution on the concept still is very dead, assigned to a committee that is its deathbed, thanks to Sen. Patrick Bauerís whimsical assignment 

The glimmer of hope stems from the fact that Senator Johnny Nugent, Sen. Don Waterman, Sen Wendell Hill, and Sen. Steele Hill have rejuvenated the resolution on a vehicle bill. It now has passed the House and is ready for third reading in the Senate as SJR Resolution 10.     

The $64,000 question is will Sen. Bauerís in-your-face whims outweigh the good work tht has been done.

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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