Hoosier State 2007 Hunting Calendar

You need to start thinking about all of the great places

to go hunting this year in our state. Here are six top choices to consider, from August through January. (August 2007)

Photo by Bill Lea.

August marks the beginning of the fall through winter hunting season. During this period, which spans over six months, hunters will have the opportunity to bag many different types of game species here in Hoosierland.

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources' (DNR) Division of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) is doing an excellent job in managing the public properties that are in its care to provide a broad spectrum of hunting. From fast-paced wing-shooting, to big-racked deer hunting, Indiana has it. Moving through the calendar, let's now take a look at where the action is.


Squirrels At Winamac FWA

Leading off the season on Aug. 15 are squirrels. And the Winamac Fish and Wildlife Area (FWA) is loaded with squirrel-hunting opportunities. Located in Pulaski County, Winamac FWA covers 4,750 acres.

"The squirrel hunting has been pretty good the last couple of years. We generally average between 300 to 500 squirrels per year," property manager Tom Despot said. Last year, 526 squirrels were taken at Winamac. "Ninety-eight percent of these were fox squirrels," he said. In terms of squirrel hunting, there are two types you can hunt in Indiana: grey and fox. "We do have a few grey squirrels," Despot added.

As far as where to hunt on Winamac, Despot said that right through the middle of the property is good in areas 1B and 4B. He also noted that areas 7 and 9 are good locations for squirrels.

Winamac's deciduous forested sections are characterized by second- growth oak. Despot noted that Winamac doesn't have many hickories, which the squirrels like to feed on in the early season, but that Winamac has plenty of oaks that provide acorns for bushytails.

If you're a squirrel hunter who prefers a shotgun instead of a small caliber rifle, it should be noted that Winamac does not have a shot restriction on shotgun shells. Of course, what type of gun you use is a matter of choice. Each type has its advantages and disadvantages. This writer prefers a .22 in long rifle with a descent scope. This is because a scope helps in low-light conditions (i.e., in the deeply shaded woods before the leaves come off) for allowing pinpoint shooting.

Squirrel hunting is a great way to introduce people, especially children, to the sport of hunting.

"By and large, the squirrel hunting here at Winamac is underutilized; there's an awful lot of opportunity for it," Despot said.

For more information on Winamac FWA, call (574) 946-4422.


Doves At Kankakee FWA

One of the most exciting and challenging forms of wing-shooting that you can do in our state is mourning dove hunting. Mourning doves are the most hunted -- and harvested -- game bird in the United States. You can find these birds on many of the state's FWAs. And one of the best in Indiana is Kankakee FWA.

Located in Starke and LaPorte counties (near the Kankakee and Yellow rivers), the Kankakee FWA contains 4,096 acres and it offers up some excellent dove shooting.

"The 2006 season was not a bad year. Actually, it was a little above average with 4,750 birds being taken," property manager Glenn McCormick said. McCormick noted that the fields for dove hunting are the same every year.

"There are three fields at 75 acres each. We make them 1,500 feet long, and each can have 25 hunters," he said.

Kankakee is a steel-shot-only facility, and two of the dove fields are located near the office building, while the other one is north of the Kankakee River off state Route (SR) 8.

Kankakee is a participant in the Reserved Dove Hunt, which means you have to be picked (by a lottery process) to hunt the property on the first two days of the season (typically Sept. 1 and 2). The Reserved Dove Hunts are an excellent way to get in on some of the best dove hunting in the state, and the Midwest! Please see the Indiana Hunting & Trapping Guide for details.

McCormick is enthusiastic about the dove youth hunt that will take place at Kankakee in 2007. "We're planning a youth hunt primarily for kids who haven't hunted before. We'll have five spots with two kids per spot," McCormick said.

He added that kids would need an adult mentor. Forms can be picked up at the property office, or you can request a form from the FWA's personnel and they will mail it to you.

To help out the youth hunting, McCormick said someone has donated several boxes of 20-gauge shells for dove hunting. This is an extremely nice donation, and it will definitely help new hunters experience the fast-paced action, and the thrill of dove wing-shooting.

Remember that the early days of September can be extremely hot; therefore, hunters are encouraged to keep themselves and their four-legged hunting partners well hydrated.

For more information on dove hunting at Kankakee FWA, call (574) 896-3522.


Deer At Jasper-Pulaski

Jasper-Pulaski FWA contains 8,062 acres and is located in Jasper and Pulaski counties. The agricultural fields that are close to Jasper Pulaski, along with the large wooded areas, and the lakes and swampy areas, are ideally suited to attract deer.

When you couple these habitat traits with the early archery season, when the deer at less wary, you have all the ingredients to bag a deer and put some venison on the table.

"This past year's harvest," said Jasper-Pulaski FWA property manager Jim Bergens "was higher than normal." A total of 53 deer were harvested during the early archery season. Bergens said another 79 deer were taken during the firearms portion of the season, and an additional 44 were harvested in the late season (i.e., muzzleloader and later archery season). From these figures, it's easy to tell that Jasper-Pulaski is posting good deer harvest numbers.

When asked where the hotspots are for deer, Bergens said, "They vary from year to year, but all of them have been hotspots." When you look at a map of this FWA, it's easy to see that the property does have plenty of potential hotspots for deer.

For example, on the north end of the pro

perty areas 4, 5 and 11, all have a terrain feature known as an inside corner. An inside corner is where a crop field and a wooded area come together and form a corner -- like the inside corner of a box. If you take a look at the Jasper-Pulaski FWA map online at www.in.gov/dnr/fishwild/stuff, you'll see exactly what I mean. Deer will naturally use inside corners as part of their travel routes.

Bergens said that areas 5, 15 and 11 are popular for deer hunting. He said that areas 2, 8, 9 and 10 on the south end of the property are also good for deer hunting.

One of the nice features about deer hunting on fish and wildlife areas like Jasper-Pulaski is that you can set up a tree stand before the season begins.

"Starting on Sept. 1, persons can put up tree stands," Bergens said. "We usually see several of them out there on the first day you can put them up."

However, Bergens did caution readers that once you leave a stand, you do run the risk of someone stealing it. To help alleviate this type of problem, Bergens recommends hunters use portable climbing tree stands, which can be packed in and out on the day of a hunt. This is a good recommendation, because there are several brands of portable climbing tree stands available that work well.

There is a state deer check-in station at Jasper-Pulaski. Bergens said that although hunters can check their deer in at other check-in stations, he hopes they'll do it at Jasper Pulaski. "We like to see them," he said.

For more information on Jasper Pulaski FWA, call (219) 843-4841.


Pheasants At Willow Slough FWA

Located in Newton County, Willow Slough FWA is multi-faceted in terms of a public property where you can hunt pheasants. At this FWA, it is not uncommon for pheasant hunters to bag a few wild birds, and put-and-take pheasant hunting is conducted here as well. And, at 9,956 acres, Willow Slough is also one of the larger FWAs in the state.

Adding more ways to pheasant hunt, The Nature Conservancy partners with the DFW at Willow Slough on property located on the east and west sides of state Route (SR) 41 at Willow Slough. The property on the east side of SR 41 is known as the Sands.

Pheasant hunters going after wild birds are permitted to hunt on the Sands approximately every other day. The Sands is not hunted every day in order to reduce hunting pressure. If you want to hunt this property, be sure to call ahead to determine the scheduling.

"If you have a dog that's able to bust some brush, and you're willing to do some walking, you can score some wild pheasants at the Slough," said avid upland hunter Jim Whitted of Valparaiso.

One of the areas that often "hold" wild pheasants is Area 13 on the north end of the property. And, as Whitted alluded to, if you're willing to do some walking, it just might pay off. Other good areas at Willow Slough to try are areas 4 and 10 by Pogue Marsh.

If the wild bird hunting doesn't pan out, Willow Slough is a participant in the put-and-take hunts. Typically, these hunts start on the first Saturday before Thanksgiving and run for nine days. Hunters should (beginning on about Sept. 1 until noon on Nov. 25) reserve their hunt via the Internet at: www.in.gov/dnr/indianaoutdoor.

The (typical) cost for put-and-take hunting is $15 for two birds. In the put-and-take hunts, ringnecks and hens are both legal to shoot. After the nine days of put-and-take hunting, a form of hunting called the clean-up pheasant hunt is conducted. During clean-up hunts, sportsmen may bag the put-and-take birds that weren't previously harvested at no charge.

For more information on pheasant hunting at Willow Slough, call (219) 285-2704.


Deer At Kingsbury FWA

Kingsbury FWA is in LaPorte County, and it contains 6,068 acres. So, this FWA is rather large. Part of this FWA is off-limits to hunters because of defective military ammunition that was buried here when the property had an ammunition factory operating on it. When something would go wrong in the manufacturing process, the defective ammo had to be buried. The area where the ammo is buried attracts deer because it is off-limits to hunters.

The Kingsbury FWA has a history of posting very good harvest numbers for deer every year, including those taken during the muzzleloader portion of the season. Part of this has to do with the agricultural fields that are located around the FWA. Deer love corn. There are plenty of corn fields around Kingsbury.

Your best bet for deer in this portion of the season is to determine if the deer are using the contaminated area for bedding and moving through the property in areas 4a, 4b and 4e on the north end of the property and then set up appropriately.

Many muzzleloader hunters will use tree stands to hunt from. Please make certain your tree stand is in good shape, and wear a fall restraint harness while hunting out of a tree stand. The contact number for Kingsbury is (219) 393-3612.


Rabbits At Glendale FWA

Located in Daviess County, Glendale FWA is a sizeable 8,060 acres. Dogwood Lake is situated in the middle of Glendale, and the East Fork of the White River runs along the southern border of the property

"Last year," said Glendale property manger Rob Sullender, "was somewhat below average for rabbits." But even in a less than stellar year, Sullender said there were still about 475 rabbits harvested at Glendale.

Sullender said there was record rainfall last spring, and so he suspects this impeded rabbit production. "Farmers in the area were late getting their fields plowed, and we didn't get our dove fields in until the first part of June," Sullender said.

In terms of where to hunt rabbits at Glendale, Sullender said they're found pretty much all over the property. But he indicated the north end of the property was popular with rabbit hunters. The areas around Whitetail and Redwing ponds look good for rabbits. (Please note you can view a map of Glendale and other FWAs at www.in.gov/dnr/fishwild/stuff.

One of the main reasons that you can find rabbits throughout the property has to do with the excellent management techniques, which Sullender and his staff are utilizing. Sullender said they were building brushpiles and "that 600 pounds of salt," had been distributed in the soil.

"The salt is beneficial to rabbits and other small game," Sullender said. Sullender noted that the salt was added to the soil after the deer season had closed.

Glendale was producing good rabbit numbers late into the hunting season

. "We were getting 20 or more rabbits in the late part of the season," Sullender emphasized. Relative to this, it's interesting to note that on Feb. 7, 2007, a new rabbit and squirrel-hunting season became law.

For rabbits, the new rule changes mean you can hunt rabbits until Feb. 15 on private property, and until Jan. 31 on FWAs and reservoir properties.

Indiana will now have one basic statewide squirrel season that runs from Aug. 15 until Jan. 31. This will extend the squirrel season in the northern part of the state for approximately a month longer. Please consult the 2007-2008 Indiana Hunting and Fishing Guide for details, and check all season dates before going hunting.

Glendale is an ideal choice for rabbit hunting and for those who prefer to hunt cottontails with a shotgun; there is no shot (type) restriction in place, but this could be changing soon with environmental concerns throughout the state.

For more details on Glendale FWA, call (812) 644-7711.

Find more about Indiana fishing and hunting at: IndianaGameandFish.com.

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