"Bayou Bill" Scifres
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Latest Deer Season Harvest Tallied
Copyright © 2008 by Bill Scifres

The total deer harvest figure for the last seasons, ended in January of this year, for all seasons and all harvest tools is 124,427 deer, according to assistant deer biologist Chad Stewart, who spoke at last week’s  Hoosier Outdoor Writers annual meeting.

Stewart said the deer harvest tally is third best of modern times, behind totals of 125,526 in seasons of 2005, and 125,381 in 2006.

Last year’s total harvest was undoubtedly affected by EHD, the deer disease that played havoc with deer populations in seven southwestern counties. Stewart said the seven counties where the antlered deer harvest was down at least 20 percent were Crawford, Davies, Dubois, Perry, Pike, Spencer and Warrick.

That, of course, begs the question: will the dread disease do an instant replay this summer in the same counties or other areas of the state where infestations were lighter. The odds are that EHD will not strike there again this summer, but it could show up in other areas.

Interesting enough, Stewart says the disease crops up most often in drought summers. He adds that deer survivors of EHD (epizootic hemorrhagic disease) tend to build up a tolerance (or immunity) to it.

Thus, it is almost certain that the disease will not occur in counties that were affected badly last summer, but that it could occur elsewhere in the state.

Stewart says EHD is transmitted by the bite of a nearly-microscopic fly (from the family of no-seeums). Of course, they prosper in dry spells.

This unhappy, but natural, set of circumstances (maybe Mother Nature is intervening in our deer population problems . . . whatta you got for geese?) harks back to the  ‘50s when we used to vacation on Rondaxe Lake near the sleepy little town of Old Forge in the Adirondack Mountains.

The annual visit with Uncle Harold and Aunt Edith was unadulterated joy, and it was not tainted by the trips Uncle Harold and I Jeeped into the mountains to small native brook trout waters. They were, at times, hair-raisingly wild.

This one day, however, Uncle Harold had been called back to Rome (as in N.Y.) to work. Thus, I was to solo into the mountains, and to worsen matters, I had no wheels (my wife needed our Jeep). 

We came up with the notion that my wife, Nancy, would taxi me to the jumping-off place, and that I then would hoof it to the creek (the Independence River) to fish for brookies. She would then return just before dark to pick me up.

The plan worked perfectly until she dropped me off and headed back over the mountain to Camp. It was then, as I assembled my little Heddon Black Beauty bamboo fly rod, that I noted, in frustration, that my little green bottle of insect repellent was not about. The deer flies, and black flies (as big as house flies) were already feasting on me, Still, the urge to get chummy with those little fire-engine red-bellied critters intervened and I headed for the river, realizing en route that the bugs operate best in the shade. Furthermore, I thought, the wind might rise to quell their dive-bomb tactics.

I was fighting flies, and not catching much, when in late afternoon I I chanced upon a fast-moving stretch of shallow water (a gravel bottom riffle) that flowed into a big millpond.

The plot thickens, I told myself, as I soft-shoed into the swift water to cast my little gray nymph downstream to the deep, quiet waters of the pool, all the time picking deer flies off my bare neck and dropping them into the swift water.

For a spell, the feed I expected did not materialize, but I kept picking flies and casting. After a few minutes, trout started rising to something in the pool, and even my faulty cerebellum deduced that my fly picking flies could be creating a brookie smorgasbord in the quiet water.

The rest is history--the happy kind. I had a ready source of bait. I punched pinched flies onto the hook of the little fly and merely cast them to the still water. Presto! The best brookie fishing I ever had.

There were whole fried brook trout, eggs, and blue berry muffins for breakfast.

As the old saw goes: “What goes around, comes around!”

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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