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Thanksgiving break time for sandhill cranes

Updated: December 30, 2013 12:31PM



Thanksgiving break is time for, well, sandhill cranes.

Typically, this is prime time for viewing sandhills at and around Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area. This year is no exception. The count on Tuesday was the high for the year at 21,074 cranes.

Best times to watch them are at sunrise when they fly out of the roosting marshes or beginning an hour before sunset when they return to Goose Pasture, where there is a viewing area. The viewing area is also a pretty good spot to watch deer.

During the day, the flocks feed and dance in the surrounding farmland and fields. They are quite the spectacle.

Earlier this month, Bill Peak, a nature photographer from Crown Point, visited the site. He found the most cranes were concentrated then on the fields near the NIPSCO plant on Route 49.

He had an added wild bonus near the observation tower.

“The best thing there was the bald eagle that took off from the field and flew over my car,’’ he emailed. “Bad thing was I was still in the car and didn’t get a shot.’’

But he did get a lot of shots of sandhills flying, dancing and feeding.

Jasper-Pulaski is south on Route 421 toward Medaryville. The observation area is slightly to the west on Route 143.

For more information on the cranes, go to in.gov/dnr/fishwild/3109.htm.

Ducks unlimited: The Crown Point DU chapter holds its Big Duck Gun Raffle Banquet at Avalon Manor in Merrillville next Friday. Contact Jason Kleine (219) 712-6048 or Randy Armstrong (219) 741-1130.

Deer: Firearm season ends Sunday. This weekend should be the best of the three, at least in terms of the weather. Hunters at Kingsbury FWA, through Sunday, had harvested 27 nearly identical to the 28 last year. Staff at Willow Slough FWA reported some decent bucks harvested last weekend. ... Hunters wishing to donate venison may connect with those who want it through GiveIN Game. Go to in.gov/dnr/fishwild/7240.htm.

Hunting notes: Goose season reopened in the north zone on Thanksgiving. More geese are around than earlier in the fall. ... As of Wednesday, Willow Slough had the wind keeping a few spots ice free, otherwise it is locking up for duck hunters. Icing is underway at Kingsbury also. ... The second dove season ends Wednesday.

Fishing: For those who haven’t put their boats away, the weather for the weekend looks favorable to chase perch and lake trout on Lake Michigan.

“Perch fishing has been good when the weather conditions have been good,’’ Lake Michigan fisheries biologist Brian Breidert emailed. “Late last week and into this week we have seen favorable conditions and some success out of Burns ditch near the wall at the Port of Indiana.’’

Good reports on whitefish have been coming from Michigan, so they should go any day now around Michigan City and Portage, especially.

For the few getting out, steelhead are happening in the streams, especially after the rain last week, according to both Breidert and Capt. Rich Sleziak of Slez’s Bait in Lake Station.

Perch fishing continues to be good from shore in Chicago, especially around the new spot at the slip north of the east end of 87th Street and in the river at 92nd and 95th. With the weather, fishermen have been playing the wind in picking their perch spot.

Four more: Congratulations to host Pat Renwick and the crew of “Conservation Mike’’ Echterling and Bobby Bergren, who celebrated the fourth year of the “Region Bass Buzz’’ last Saturday. The show airs from 6-8 a.m. Saturdays on WJOB-AM (1230).

Clubbing: The Lake County Fish and Game meeting (lakecountyfishandgame.org) is at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the clubhouse in Griffith.



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