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Outdoors: Upland hunting set to open today in Indiana

Updated: November 8, 2012 11:45PM



The mild winter and dry spring sound good for pheasant and quail in Northwest Indiana.

“On the spring whistle counts, we heard (quail) on routes (in the northwest) that we had not heard them on in several years,’’ said Budd Veverka, DNR farmland game biologist.

Upland hunting (pheasant, quail and rabbits) opens today in Indiana.

“The biggest thing was a very mild winter and a pretty good breeding season,’’ Veverka said. “Pheasants were up 30 percent because of the mild winter. Any time we get a winter like that it builds the population. One more winter like that would be great.’’

He expects rabbit populations to be stable.

On a larger scale, Veverka is editor for the national Wild Pheasant Plan, which is a broad-scale plan for habitat and pheasants.

“Hopefully, we will move forward with implementing that plan within the next two or three years,’’ he said.

Northwest Indiana has also had some added State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement (SAFE), a Conservation Reserve Program initiative, which will benefit pheasants and woodcock.

Also on the long-range front, it is early in the rules process for a proposal to make the start of upland hunting on Nov. 1. The advantage is that hunters would always know the start date and there would always be two weekends of hunting before deer season.

Fishing: College student Tyler Harmon messaged that whitefish are picking up off the piers in southwest Michigan. That’s a sign they should go soon in Indiana.

“Still looking for a state record whitefish,’’ Lake Michigan fisheries biologist Brian Breidert emailed. “Hope to see something over 6 pounds to get us started.’’

Capt. Rich Sleziak from Slez’s Bait Shop in Lake Station, talking while he tied spawn sacs Thursday, said, “Friday, Saturday and Sunday are looking like the last hurrah to get on the big lake to try for perch. I just got in a fresh load of bait.’’

Otherwise, the top bite by far has been crappie. Sleziak said, “They are doing good on crappie in the rivers —Deep River, Salt Creek, Burns Ditch — and at Lake George under the Third Street Bridge.’’

He said those fishing the streams are doing surprisingly well. The streams are holding some steelhead with a few coho and Chinook. He said most are left-over skamania, but there are a few winter-run steelhead starting.

Lakers are being seen on the Port of Indiana reef, but catching has stalled since the historic blow off Sandy’s back side. Maybe the mild weekend with south winds will spark the bite again.

Hunting notes: Big bucks are on the move in the rut. Three good examples came from LaSalle Fish and Wildlife Area. Property manager Ken Bisacchi said bowhunters reported a 215-pound field-dressed nine-pointer arrowed last Friday, a 177-pound 10-pointer on Saturday and a 10-pointer on Monday. ... Rail hunting ends today. ... Second dove hunting season opens today.

Waterfowling: The hope is the front on Monday will bring in fresh birds, because the ones here now are educated to local hunters. Staff at Willow Slough FWA said they are holding some ducks, but they have been around and are smart. LaSalle is holding about 1,200 ducks, including about 300 mallards. But they are educated. ... The first season for hunting Canada and white-fronted geese and brant in Indiana’s north zone ends Sunday.

Clubbing: Greg Miller from Bass Pro will speak on Lake Michigan bass to the Hoosier Coho Club at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Skwiat American Legion in Michigan City.

Wild things: Jasper-Pulaski FWA is nearing the peak for sandhill cranes. The next few weeks will be a prime time to view the thousands of sandhills there.



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