"Bayou Bill" Scifres
Dedicated to the conservation and enjoyment of Indiana's natural resources
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Natural World Adjusts To The Elements
Copyright © 2009 by Bill Scifres

Extremely cold spells and deep snows put thing caps on Hoosier nimrods. First off they start thinking about residual effects on the out-of-doors – primarily wild morels and other aspects of the natural scene.
This year’s snow, incidentally, was a pretty dry snow – as they go – in the central part of the state, and to the north. It was a wetter snow in the south. This means that the dry snow doesn’t pack as well, and is deeper.
If one wants to look at the weather as a long-range factor of the natural scene, it probably would be well to look at all kinds weather-related effects, but over the years I have come to believe that Mother Earth keeps on turning . . . regardless of what the elements will do to the distant future.
I have, for example, observed snow years in which plants like wild asparagus and pokeweed (two of the best edibles) produced better than mushrooms in following dry springs because of their deeper root systems.
This is not the first time we have been derailed by snows that were deeper, nor temperatures that were lower. In retrospect, I do not recall a single spring following bad weather spells that it seemed to make a whit of difference in the fungus crop. How well I remember that I have in the past been sure such treatment by the elements would make more or less of everything (I even wrote columns to that effect), but they just didn’t happen.
I am sure a good, wet snow followed by a warming trend in spring would do a better job of providing moisture in the humus than rain (it is released slowly into the forest floor, and thus, lasts longer). As a matter of fact, I have spent some pleasant moments picking morels from snow banks, but I have always believed the morels were there when the snow fell. Humus retains moisture better than earth, but it still drys quickly in wind.
If a cover of snow does anything to the plant kingdom (morels are not plants but I think it works for them, too), I think it acts as an insulation . . . possibly keeping the plant and shallow root systems of being frozen. I have thought a few times when there was no snow that plants were set back some byb extremely low air temperatures.
In the final analysis, I tend to believe that weather is a fickle thing, but that nature can, and does, adjust to it. So what our recent snow and sub-zero air temps will do is in good hands. We’ll see, as the book opens . . . and not until.

CONFIRMED - I now have had good, reliable observations (point blank) of a single Carolina wren at one of my ground feeding stations, on the Carolinas probably weathered the sub-zero temps recently in good shape. It may be, I think, that they are better weather projectors than the TV guy, and simply head south when bad days are in the offing.

FALL TURKEY – Indiana hunters killed 610 wild turkeys during the 2008 fall wild turkey hunting season. Wild turkeys were killed in 57 of the 74 counties open to turkey hunting during the season, which ran from Oct. 1 to 19.
The 2008 season was Indiana's fourth modern-day fall turkey hunting season. Hunters experienced a 4 percent increase in success when compared to the 585 turkeys taken during the 2007 fall turkey season. The record is 716 turkeys in 2005.
During the 14-day archery-only season, Oct. 1 to 14, hunters killed 132 turkeys, accounting for 22 percent of the total. The majority of the fall harvest occurred during the combined shotgun and archery season, Oct. 15 to 19, when hunters killed 478 turkeys, accounting for 78 percent of the total fall harvest.
Adult male turkeys accounted for 74.5 percent of the harvest, with the remaining 25.5 percent consisting of juvenile birds. The juvenile-to-adult ratio was 1 to 3. According to DNR biologist Steve Backs, the high adult proportion was probably related to a combination of hunter selectivity and below-average brood production in 2008.  
Harrison County topped the hunter success list with 40 turkeys, followed by  Switzerland (36), and Pike (31). 

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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