"Bayou Bill" Scifres
Dedicated to the conservation and enjoyment of Indiana's natural resources
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Stalking the Stalker
Copyright © 2008 by Bill Scifres

With gun deer season opening in a week--Nov. 17--deer hunters probably should go to school on an experience of mine from a few years back when I was hunting ducks--not deer.

I had always thought and heard that a deer is a spooky critter. That if you disturb them, they will change their address, and fast. That may be true if you shoot or make some other loud noise when you jump them. But if the encounter is without noise--and the encounter is not eyeball-to-eyeball--deer can be rather calm and even curious, I think.

I was jump-shooting wood ducks on Salt Creek in Jackson County when I learned this bit of “uncharacteristic” deer lore, and this requires all the stillness one can muster. I was stealthily stalking wood ducks along an unpicked cornfield, carefully getting close enough to the bank tree line to see the water. But I was in the standing corn.

There had been a gully-washer rain the night before. Suddenly, the surprise snort of a deer broke the quiet morning and I looked into the corn to see the rear end of a deer--I took it to be a big doe--leaving the area unhurriedly.

With ducks on the water, I soon forgot the deer, but after I had shot them, I retraced my steps until I came to the spot where the deer and I had surprised one another. Thinking more about our encounter, I slipped into the corn and soon found the deer’s tracks in the clay-colored mud. The corn was relatively free of weeds, and the tracks very plain, so I back traced the deer until I found where it had bedded down in a little patch of foxtail.

But the real shocker came when I continued to follow the tracks. They graphically told me the deer had made a wide, but leisurely, circle in the corn--well away from the creek, but had turned back and parallelled the creek bank for about a hundred yards--30 yards or less from the bank (I had been sneaking the ducks near the tree line in the first and second rows of corn). Then the tracks turned away from the creek again.

A few minutes later, a brace of my empty shotgun shells told me the departure point of the deer was very close to my empty shells. My shots at the wood ducks, obviously, had spooked her.

The stalker had been the stalked.

DNR NEWS--Seventeen selected Indiana state parks will temporarily close to the general public for controlled deer reductions twice in the coming weeks. 

The reductions will take place Nov. 17-18, and Dec. 1-2. The participating parks will close the evening before (Nov. 16 and 30) each of the reductions and re-open the morning after (Nov. 19 and Dec. 3).  

The parks that will be closed for both sessions include Brown County, Chain O’Lakes, Charlestown, Harmonie, Indiana Dunes, Lincoln, McCormick’s Creek, Ouabache, Pokagon, Shades, Spring Mill, Summit Lake, Tippecanoe River, Turkey Run, Whitewater Memorial, Fort Harrison and Clifty Falls.

TURTLE SOUP--I recently departed from my grandmother’s recipe for turtle soup, (and I’m sorry, Gram, but I think I did). Like a few other things Gram cooked, I thought her turtle soup could be improved.

Here’s how I did it: 

I placed about two pounds of turtle meat in a 6-quart saucepan, but first I dredged it in flour, and salted and peppered the meat (with bones).

With three tablespoons of butter (margarine is OK) in the pan, I browned the meat. When the meat was brown, I placed big pieces on a cutting board and with a very sharp knife cut it to bite size and placed I back in the pot.

With that, I poured in two 14-ounce cans of store-bought chicken broth (homemade broth is best), and let it simmer (covered) for about four hours. Midway through that part of the procedure, I poured in about 14 ounces of tomato sauce (for taste and color), and added two medium potatoes, a few strips of dried hen-of-the-woods mushroom, one medium onion, (all chopped finely) and carrot rings of eight small carrot fingers, and half a cup of whole kernel corn. The final ingredient was a strip of bacon, cut up finely. 

When all the veggies were tender to dissolved, I dipped out enough of the liquid to make a flat of dumplings (the liquid broth, plus one-cup of flour), then placed them slowly into soup, stirring to distribute them throughout the pot. Then I let the covered pot simmer slowly for a while. 

Adding salt and pepper should be done slowly, taste testing as you go. Parsley flakes and shredded cheeses should be sprinkled on hot individual bowls at time of serving; other condiments (if desired) may be added during cooking time when pot is covered.

Note: Dredging meat and dumplings in flour before cooking will help to thicken soup somewhat.

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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