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Indiana deer harvest ranks lowest in six years

Updated: April 1, 2014 10:35AM



Indiana deer hunters fit the pattern of hunters in other Midwestern states with a significant decline in harvest during 2013.

The reported harvest of 125,635 deer was about 10,600 (7.8 percent) fewer than the record of 136,248 in 2012. While 2013 ranks eighth best since regulated hunting began in 1951, it was the lowest harvest in six years.

Two consecutive years with outbreaks of epizootic hemorrhagic disease, a record antlerless harvest in 2012, and the second season of new hunting regulations aimed at lowering deer densities in some areas were considered the three most likely factors in the decline

“We had a record antlerless harvest in 2012 on top of a major disease outbreak, which tells us there were a lot less deer going into the season,’’ deer management biologist Chad Stewart said. “It was pretty easy to predict the harvest would be down.’’

The impact of the two years of new regulations is harder to calculate within that context.

Harrison County had the highest harvest (3,454 deer). The firearms season accounted for 57 percent of harvest followed by archery (27 percent), muzzleloader (8), late antlerless (5) and youth season (2).

For a detailed breakdown, go to in.gov/dnr/fishwild, then to featured topics.

Fishing: A few got out to sample the brief open water after the rains last week and found a few typical spring coho in the 14- to 16-inch range. Then the historic winter returned. Harbors have re-iced.

Ice remains universal, but the best public spot remains at Willow Slough. I heard one report of some dead fish in the back, but no other reports of a fish kill.

Tom Bacula emailed, “I have not heard of any kills that occurred at Willow Slough. At this point after the rains and slight thaw (on Feb. 20) I would expect to be out of danger at this time for Willow Slough.’’

The bit of open-water fishing on Lake Michigan has largely disappeared again. The best bet for open-water fishing is the opening of Braidwood Lake, the cooling lake in southwestern Will County in Illinois. It reopens to boat and shore fishing on Saturday, come cold and/or snow.

Clubbing: Frank Martin, owner of Calumet Marine in Calumet City, Ill., talks at the Lake County Fish and Game (lakecountyfishandgame.org) meeting at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the clubhouse in Griffith.

Ducks Unlimited: The Wanatah banquet is March 8 at the Wanatah American Legion. Contact Josh Tharp, (219) 544-1163; Rusty Schultz, (219) 405-0059; or Matt Gast (219) 314-3361.

Hunter ed: Spots remain for the hunter education course on March 14-15 at Cedar Lake Family Golf Center. All hunter ed is now registered online at register-ed.com/programs/indiana.

Hunting: Fox hunting ends today and crow hunting on Saturday in Indiana.

DNR input: The DNR Division of Fish & Wildlife wants to hear ideas on fish and wildlife related regulations in Indiana. Through today, the public can use an online form to contribute ideas and provide input on issues. Go to wildlife.IN.gov, then to the “Got INput?’’ box near the middle of the page.

Spring signs: My favorite came from a regular contributor, who was in Monticello last weekend.

“It was flock after flock of sandhills (cranes) going north,’’ the contributor said. “I said, ‘Those suckers are going to have some cold feet by the time they get to Wheatfield.’ ”

Staff at Kingsbury Fish and Wildlife Area reported some waterfowl, including goldeneye, common mergansers and redheads, showed up on the open water of a ditch. They might be in for a surprise this weekend, too.

At Willow Slough FWA, there’s been a couple pairs of various ducks mixed all winter with the Canada geese hanging out around the aerator at the launch.

The third year of the annual contest at Indiana Dunes State Park of guessing when a large snow pile melts could be more interesting this year. The closest entry wins a 2014 DNR Annual Entrance Permit. The pile is in the beach auxiliary parking lot. Give guesses at the park or email dunesnc@dnr.IN.gov or on Facebook (Facebook.com/INdunes).



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