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WAYNEDALE WOODS AND WATERS

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photo by Frecker Optical “Sheds” on a trail in Hoagland area.2003 WILD TURKEY HUNTING SEASON

Indiana's 2003 spring wild turkey hunting season runs from April 23 to May 11 in every county except Rush and Shelby counties, where Department of Natural Resources biologists continue to establish wild turkey populations. To hunt, Indiana residents need a resident turkey hunting license and a valid game bird habitat stamp, or a lifetime or youth license. Wild turkeys may be hunted from 1/2 hour before sunrise to sunset. All Fish and Wildlife areas and Huntington, Mississinewa and Salamonie Reservoirs have hunting hours 1/2 hour before sunrise to noon. Some DNR properties only allow reserved turkey hunting. Call property for details before you hunt.

More information is available in Indiana's free Hunting and Trapping Guide, available wherever hunting licenses are sold or at: http://www.hunting.IN.gov

A 2003 turkey hunting season forecast is available at: http://www.IN.gov/dnr/fishwild/hunt/turkey/turkeydata.htm

 

TURKEY HUNTING SAFETY

"Indiana has not had a fatal turkey hunting accident in more than 30 years of turkey hunting, but we still average one to two shooting accidents each year," said Steve Backs, DNR turkey research biologist. Backs urges hunters to follow these basic safety measures:

Before you go hunting! Check with your doctor to make sure you are in good health, and hunt within your physical limitations. If you are hunting with others, let them know if you have a physical limitation. Make sure you have a working knowledge of first aid. Let someone know where you are hunting and when you expect to return. During the hunt! Keep the safety on and your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot. Never shoot at a sound or movement. Identify your target and what's beyond. Respect property rights and get permission before hunting on private land. Don't wear anything with black, blue, white or red on your hunting outfit. They are the colors of a turkey gobbler's head. For maximum safety, sit with your back against a tree that is greater in diameter than the width of your shoulders and taller than your head. Select a calling position where you can see for at least 50 yards to the front and both sides. Listen for changes in the woods. Wildlife such as blue jays and chipmunks make a lot of noise when an intruder enters their area. Songbirds tend to stop singing. That intruder could be another turkey hunter. Never wave, stand up or make any turkey calls to alert another hunter that you are in the area. Remain still and call out in a loud, clear voice to let the other hunter know you are in the area. After the hunt! If you hunted on private land, make sure to thank the landowner before you leave. Check and clean your equipment.

 

SPECIES SPOTLIGHT

The bald eagle is such an American icon, appearing on everything from money to military and government emblems, that it is hard to imagine that the species has not always been abundant. Bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) nest in old, tall trees. In Indiana, state reservoirs such as Monroe and Patoka lakes harbor many eagle nests in places that have standing, dead timber. The backwater areas of the large lakes, as well as the Wabash and Ohio rivers, are great places to see eagles.

Breeding of this large bird was widespread until about 100-years ago when wetlands and swamps were converted to farmland, especially in areas such as the Grand Kankakee Marsh of northwestern Indiana. Now, nesting habitat is most available in southwestern Indiana. Some winters, frozen waters in the north send the birds south to the more mild Wabash River area for food. They prefer to eat fish near the surface, small mammals, wading birds and waterfowl.

Eagles are large birds of prey, about 3-foot tall with 7-foot wingspans; males weigh an average of 8 to 9 pounds and females weigh about 10 to 14 pounds. At 4 to 5 years of age, mature adults are identified by their white head and tail, solid brown body, and large, curved, yellow bill. Young eagles have patches of white on their underside and tail. Eagles can live up to 30 years in the wild, and longer in captivity. Bald eagles are found from Alaska and Canada into Florida and Baja, California.

Eagles were re-introduced into Indiana from 1985 to 1989 at Lake Monroe, with 73 young birds being released. Today, 15 active eagle territories are noted in the state. Protected wet habitats near state properties encourage the birds to stay and raise young.

 

MUZZLELOADING 4-H SHOOTING SPORTS PROGRAM

This program is sponsored by the Allen County 4-H Shooting Sports Club. The program teaches safe handling of firearms, proper use of equipment, shooting techniques and ethics of good shooters. The program will begin Thursday, April 24 at 6:30pm at the Allen County Extension Office, 4001 Crescent Avenue. Then the program will continue in Spencerville, Indiana on May 1, 8, 15, 22, and 29 from 6:30pm to 8:30pm. Registration is limited. Advanced registration is required. The program is open to all youth grades 3-12. The cost is $20; equipment will be provided. Please call the Allen County Extension Office at 481-6826 to request additional information. Instructors are certified through the Indiana 4-H Shooting Sports Program of Purdue University and the Department of Natural Resources.

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