Something Fishy

Something Fishy
t Doesn't Get Much Better

Monday, February 25, 2013

With the arrival of March, spring is just around the corner, well almost

When early March rolls around I think spring. Admittedly, I get a bit over anxious. I’m thinking warm breezes, morel mushrooms and crappie. 
Last year, essentially, we had no winter. At least very little really cold, bad stuff. But this year, most folks have had enough. So as February comes to an end and March appears on the calendar, spring is on many people’s mind.
Sometimes the reality is snow and ice, or other nasty weather. It is not unusual to find the ground covered with some of the heaviest snows of the winter in March. The good news is the white stuff usually doesn’t stick around very long.
Weather Channel statistics show the average daily high temperature in southern Indiana during March is 55 with a nighttime low of 35. That is reason for optimism as that is about 10 degrees warmer than the February numbers. And the second half of the month statistically, the high temperatures should be well into the 60’s.
There’s an old saying, “If March comes in like a lion, it will go out like a lamb,” or if March comes in like a lamb (nice weather), it will go out like a lion (bad). I don’t know that anyone has researched the accuracy of the saying, but stats show the end of the month is warmer than the start.
How March 2013 will begin is yet to be determined. I don’t remember all of the bad March storms in recent years or whether or not the months started as lambs or lions. However, there have been a number storms that have found there way between those longer and warmer days I look forward to March. Being a month of significant weather change, most anything can happen during March, and frequently does.
At the end of the month in 1987 (March 30) a heavy snow blanketed most of the Ohio River Valley, and a year later, a two-inch glaze of ice covered much of the same area.
In 1990 on March 10, a warm front produced a number of storms, including damaging 65 mile per hour winds in Kentucky, and back on March 21, 1952, a series of tornados killed 343 people, including a number in the Bluegrass state.
It also was during March in 1913 and 1936 when rains and melting snow caused significant river flooding throughout the Ohio River valley.
Hopefully, this year we will have uneventful March weather. Shortly, the crocus will appear and not far behind will be the daffodil. Those hardy, beautiful yellow flowers first bloom on the south side of the hill at my home and are a pleasant reminder that spring is at hand. The morel mushrooms can’t be far behind. I’ve found morels as early as the last week in March, but it usually is the second week in April before they appear in sizable numbers.
Who originated the old saying about March and the lion and lamb, no one seems to know. But whether or not the weather comes in like a lamb or lion, we almost are assured of a bit more winter weather, but Mother Nature will start sneaking in a few warmer days. The crocus and other early spring flowers will begin to pop up, and there might even be a few early black morels peak through the leaves.
Hurry spring!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Rattlesnakes dropped by DNR from helicopters; nope, it didn't happen

Indiana’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) recently posted on its website, a list of several myths related to the department and the outdoors, and followed with the facts.
The myths were part of a feature written by Michelle Cain, a DNR wildlife information specialist. Two in particular caught my attention, since I have heard them repeated so many times, especially in southern Indiana.
One I heard frequently in the area in and around the Hoosier National Forest in Perry County was that “the DNR released rattlesnakes to control turkey populations.” And, I’m sure no matter what the DNR says, this legend will continue. Numerous people will always believe it is true.
According to Cain, “This myth has been circulating for many years and it is untrue. The idea is that the rattlesnakes would eat the turkey eggs. However, rattlesnakes rarely eat eggs and are not effective in controlling the turkey population. 
“It has been said that these snakes were dropped from helicopters…..All I have to say about this is, if we have a DNR helicopter readily available…I’d love to ride in it. The Indiana DNR has never released rattlesnakes into the wild (although we have tagged some snakes and released them back to the same location). In fact, most rattlesnake species in our state are species of special concern or endangered.”
The DNR has acknowledged in the past that some study of the snakes has been done, but no releases other than releasing a captured snake back into its natural habitat.
For more than a half century, I’ve heard rumors of mountain lions, panthers and other big cats in the state. A related myth says the DNR released cougars/mountain lions into the wild to control the deer herd.
Cain writes that the DNR has never released any big cats and would never do so without public input. 
“Although, one cougar has been confirmed in Indiana, it is believed to have escaped from a licensed owner. The chances of you seeing a mountain lion in Indiana are virtually nonexistent,” adds Cain.
“The DNR annually receives reports of mountain lion sightings around the state, but typically the evidence points to a housecat, dog, bobcat, or coyote,” according to Cain.
More and more large cat sightings are being reported in the midwest. Numerous confirmed sightings are being reported in Missouri, and a reader from central Kentucky recently emailed me information about unconfirmed sightings there.
Bobcats probably do contribute to a number of big cat reports. The population seems to be growing and both Indiana and Kentucky are studying these cats, which are double or more the size of a large housecat, but certainly smaller than a mountain lion.
One myth Cain didn’t mention is that of a “Bigfoot” roaming the area of Lake Monroe, Brown County or the Morgan-Monroe State Forest. Maybe Bigfoot didn’t care for our cold winters and decided to head to milder climates.
# # # #
DNR INTERNS SOUGHT -- The DNR is looking to recruit 38 volunteers to work on trails this summer at four state parks for the Indiana Heritage Corps (IHC) program. 
IHC is an AmeriCorps program administered through the DNR Division of State Parks & Reservoirs. 
IHC volunteers receive onsite housing, a living allowance of $340 per month, an education stipend ($1,468 before taxes) and hands-on experience, as well as a chance to earn college internship credit and live at a state park. 
The state parks that will have IHC are Pokagon (in Angola), Fort Harrison (in Indianapolis), Brown County (in Nashville), and O’Bannon Woods (in Corydon). IHC members will clean, restore, and construct 25 cumulative miles of trail in the four parks. 
IHC candidates should be at least 17 years old, U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents, be able to pass a strict FBI background check, and be able to make a three-and-a-half-month commitment (Monday–Friday, May 13–Aug. 16) to the program. 
Interested and qualified candidates should email a résumé and cover letter More information is at

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Big cat columns always draw lots of reader interest

People long have heard and told stories of big cats, call them mountain lions, cougars, panthers or whatever one calls them. To many people they are very real.
A recent column I wrote about the Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife’s effort to study bobcats and their habits, prompted an interesting email from a reader, John Blevins, who lives near Bardstown.
     “I enjoyed  the article on bobcats, have you ever thought of doing an article on big cat sightings in Kentucky?”, wrote John.
I’ve written several columns in the past about big cat sightings, including a confirmed mountain lion sighting in Indiana. There also have been a number of recent confirmed sightings in Missouri as big cats seem to be expanding their range. 
Mention big cats and it prompts stories.
John Blevin’s big cat experiences relate back a half century, and to current time. Here in part is whatthe relates:
“I had never heard a panther scream but the old timers where I lived, who still remember when panthers were still there.. They said they sound just like a woman screaming,” said John.
“I live out in the woods, and my wife and I just got back in around 10:30 p.m. sometime in November 2011.  We parked the car and got out.  As we did, I never heard such an awful scream in my life and I have spent a long time in the woods and never heard anything even remotely like it.
“It did sound just like a woman screaming.  My hair was standing up, I was glad to get in the house.  OK call me crazy, but me and my wife both heard it. 
  “A few nights later my son brought a friend home that lives in Louisville, and I told the story to them. The friend, who I do not know, said "Oh, yeah, me and my dad were walking in Bernheim Forrest a couple of weeks ago and one stepped out on the path, stopped and stared at us for a few moments.”
Blevins said there were plenty of wild land where he
grew up in southern Kentucky along the border with Tennessee.
“People who live out in the boonies and work the woods  have been reporting sightings of big cats(Black Panthers) for years.  Most people scoffed at their stories.
        “I saw one myself when I was about 10 years old.  I was playing in a small creek about dark , I came up the creek where a big boulder had fallen in it. When I raised ny head, I was face to face with a black panther probably not 10 feet away.  
“When our eyes met it spat at me.  I probably did exactly the wrong thing and ran away as fast as I could. Of course no one believed me because I was just a kid.  
“Fast forward 50 years, my grown son and I were hunting on the back side of the same mountain where I had seen the panther as a kid.  We had met for lunch on the ridge that ran up to the top of the mountain and big rock outcroppings.  My son was facing towards the top of the ridge, and I was facing the opposite way.  
“Suddenly, he points past me and says "What's that?"  I turned and saw a big panther making great strides toward us.  I turned and cocked my gun and I have never seen anything move so fast in my life, it was just a black blur. This was at noon about 50 yards away in open forest.”
      Another incident involved another son. “He called me from Frankfort and said he was jogging when he saw seven deer cross the road. He didn’t think anything about it until this big black cat came out on the path and stopped and stared at him.  
“He has a border collie, and he said it was bigger than that.  He said he felt really vulnerable and started looking around for a stick or rocks to use as a weapon.  He is a believer now...We live about 40 miles from where my son said that he saw the panther.
      “I know the experts say that the panthers have been gone for 100 years but many of the experts have never been off a paved road.”

Monday, February 11, 2013

Kentucky study tracks bobcats, populations, and their habits

Few people ever see a Kentucky bobcat. However, it may be surprising to many folks that annually, more than 2,000 of the animals are harvested by hunting and trapping.
Now KDFWR biologists hope a study at the Green River wildlife area will lead to additional information about these wary furbearers.
Bobcats are found from border to border and are gray to brown in coloration. They are about twice the size of a domestic cat and adult males are usually from 14-40 pounds. Their stubby tail leads to their name, bobcat.
       In the January edition of the Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources, Steven Dobey wrote a piece about research taking place to learn more about the elusive creatures in the Bluegrass state.
According to Dobey, Kentucky wildlife biologists have been trapping these elusive cats to learn more about its population demographics and movement patterns.  
“Historically, bobcats have been a much sought-after furbearer in the Commonwealth and this trend continues today.  
“The most recent five-year average indicates that Kentucky’s statewide bobcat harvest averages 2,096 annually for hunters and trappers, with considerable variation in harvest from year to year.  
“Of particular interest is the trend that approximately 25 percent of bobcats harvested by gun since 2007 took place during a nine-day window when the modern gun season for deer was open statewide. 
“Ultimately, concerns for excessive harvest led to current research efforts to learn more about this furbearing species that is so iconic to Kentucky. 
“During the summer of 2012, Wildlife Division personnel implemented a systematic survey of Green River Lake WMA (GRLWMA) using remote cameras to document presence (and) absence of bobcats and identify occupancy patterns. Trapping efforts began in earnest this past October with a goal of equipping as many cats as possible with GPS-enabled radio collars. 
“In doing so, the Furbearer Program will obtain valuable data concerning habitat use, movement patterns, and survival.  Ultimately, data collected from study animals will provide valuable insight to the habitat requirements of bobcats and factors that influence survival rates. More so, these research efforts will greatly assist in the development of future harvest strategies as interest in this important furbearing species continues to grow. 
“Through mid-January, trapping efforts by project researchers have resulted in the capture of 14 (nine male, five female) bobcats. 
“Trapping efforts will continue through winter in an attempt to increase our sample size of radio collared cats on the study area of GRLWMA and some surrounding properties. “
Indiana DNR biologists also are studying bobcats. Several years ago, one cat that was captured, tagged, and released, made its way from central Indiana down to the Ohio River and somehow crossed the river. It was hit by a vehicle on Highway 60 in Breckenridge County.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

4-H Shooting Expo Scheduled for Perry County

People will have the opportunity to learn more about shooting sports past and present at the Perry County 4-H Shooting Sports Expo at the county fairgrounds Saturday, Feb. 16 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
While a variety of firearms will be on display at the Expo, no firearms will be sold at the event, which also will serve as a fund-raiser for 4-H shooting sports.
. Displays will include the following: antique ammo, custom guns, local animal furs provided by David Adams, weapons of World War I and II provided by Norman Held, and muzzleloaders provided by Albert Hagedorn.
Also, archery provided by E & E Guns, plus a Civil War display provided by Mark Laflin.
Admission is free but a container for donations will be available.
Lunch will be available for purchase by visitors.
# # # #
DEER BRUHAHA --  A Connersville couple raised a young deer and created a firestorm of media interest after officials originally planned to prosecute them.
Their intentions were good, however it is illegal to possess wild game without a special permit.
The Department of Natural Resources eventually asked that the charges be dismissed against the couple for illegal taking of a deer.
  After reviewing the matter, Gov. Mike Pence recognized public pressure and asked the DNR to reevaluate the case. As a result of the governor’s request, the DNR has reexamined the case and  sought dismissal of the charges.
  The case involves a Connersville couple – Jeff and Jennifer Counceller – who took in a fawn deer in 2010 they said was injured. The couple was told at that time by an Indiana Conservation Officer from the DNR that it is illegal to possess a wild animal without a permit and the best option was to return the fawn to a wooded location.
  They did not, and last summer they were found to still have the deer but no DNR permit authorizing them to possess it.
  The case was turned over to the Fayette County prosecutor.
It would have been easier for the conservation officer to ignore the violation, but then how do they deal with other more serious violations of individuals keeping and or hoarding wild animals?
Common sense prevailed. Maybe?
# # # #
ART CONTEST -- Students across the United States have the opportunity to win prizes and national recognition while learning about state-fish species, aquatic habitats, and conservation.  The state-fish art contest uses art to ignite children’s imagination while teaching them about the outdoors.
The 15th annual Wildlife Forever State-Fish Art Contest is open to all students in grades K through 12.  The first place winning artists will be invited to attend the  organization's EXPO to be personally recognized on stage receiving prizes and trophies.  
Entries must be postmarked by March 31, 2013.  Winners will be announced May 3, 2013. 
To enter, young artists nationwide must create an original illustration of their chosen state-fish. A personal one page written essay, story or poem on its behavior, habitat, and conservation needs is also required.
Educators, homeschoolers and parents can learn more about the competition by visiting  a website at for complete details and to download the FREE Fish On! Lesson Plan. 
The 15th Annual State-Fish Art EXPO will be held at the Go Fish Education Center in Perry, Georgia on the weekend of July 12 and 13, 2013. 
Winners who attend the EXPO will be treated to the 15th Anniversary Celebration with a wide variety of family events throughout the weekend including a special Awards Ceremony to honor all the winners with prizes and trophies.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

As hunting seasons wind down, now time to thank landowners

As hunting seasons come to a close and a new year is underway, now is a good time to thank the landowner where you hunt, fish, or hike and enjoy the outdoors.
Nearly all of the land in Kentucky, Indiana is privately owned, so a significant amount of the state’s outdoor recreation takes place on land owned by an individual or business.
Recently, I came across a story about the New Hampshire Fish & Game Department’s Landowner Relations Program.
Lindsay Webb, who heads up the New Hampshire program said now is an important time to extend thanks to landowners who share access to their land. And, the same applies here where we are dependent on private landowners for much of our recreation.
"Access to private land is a privilege provided to us through the generosity of the landowner," says Webb. "...we need to make sure that these landowners really know how much you appreciate them allowing you access to hunt, fish or watch wildlife on their property." 
Webb went on to point out a few ways sportsmen and women can show their appreciation to landowners:
* Visit the landowner to express your appreciation, and, if possible, share some of your harvest or a favorite wildlife photograph from your time on their property.
* Send a personal note or holiday card to the landowner, thanking them for sharing their land.
* Send a gift basket, or gift certificate to a local restaurant.
* Help them protect their property by documenting and reporting suspicious activities.
* Offer to help with outdoor tasks, or to clean up and properly dispose of illegally dumped materials left on their property.
Or, just offer to donate a day or two to help the landowner make wildlife improvements to the property.
# # # #
LATE GOOSE HUNTS --There are two late goose hunts available in Indiana: a late Canada goose zone season from Feb. 1 – 15,  in 30 counties (primarily in the northern part of the state), and a light goose conservation order from Feb. 1 – March 31 statewide (except the late Canada goose zone, which is open for light geese Feb. 16 – March 31.
Greene and Sullivan are amongst the closest late Canada goose counties to southern Indiana
This season is open on Canada geese only.
You must have an Indiana hunting license, Indiana waterfowl stamp, federal waterfowl stamp, and a HIP number to participate.
Shooting hours are from one-half hour before sunrise to sunset.
Regular waterfowl regulations apply. It is illegal to take Canada geese using electronic callers, shotguns capable of holding more than three shells, or to shoot after sunset.
The bag limit for this season is 5 Canada geese per day, with a possession limit of 10.
Report any banded geese taken. You may report these bands by calling toll-free 1-800-327-BAND, or online at
Something new this year, no special  permit is needed for the late Canada Goose season, and birds no longer need to be checked.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Lore related to Ground Hog Day interesting, but Phil's predictions iffy...

     (Here is a column I wrote back in 2011 about Groundhog Day. Thought some of the lore behind he day might be of interest.)

Well, the groundhog didn’t see his shadow, or at least most of them didn’t. Hopefully, the folklore is true and we’ll have an early spring. We need it.
Groundhog day is an important day in my household. I’m truly happy for the hoopla associated with the day. It also is my wife’s birthday, and the attention given the groundhog serves as a reminder that I had better be looking for a card and gift.
Groundhog day comes at a dismal time of the year when most of us also need a reminder that spring will come. However, the groundhog doesn’t have a good record of predicting the arrival of spring.
The world's most famous groundhog predicted an early spring.
Punxsutawney Phil emerged around dawn on Groundhog Day on Wednesday to make his 125th annual weather forecast in front of thousands who braved muddy, icy conditions to hear his handlers reveal that Pennsylvania's prophetic rodent had not seen his shadow.
Phil's support team, the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club's Inner Circle, concoct the forecasts. Several thousand revelers gathered before dawn on a small hill called Gobbler's Knob to hear the prediction.
Before this year’s Groundhog Day, Phil had seen his shadow 98 times and hadn't seen it 15 times since 1887. There are no records for the remaining years, though the group has never failed to issue a forecast.
According to the Stormfax Almanac, Phil is only correct 39  percent of the time. But in Phil’s defense, professional weather forecasters have difficulty predicting three days in advance, let along six weeks.
Seems to me, no matter what Phil’s prediction, weather generally starts to improve in mid-March, and not much before.
The groundhog also is known as a woodchuck, and in some areas is called a land beaver. It is a member of the rodent family, belonging to a group of large ground squirrels, known as marmots. They are found from Canada to Alabama.
Phil is the best-known of the weather predicting groundhogs. He makes his predictions from Punxsutawney, Pa. In Canada, his counterpart is Wiarton Willie from Wiarton, Ontario. A famous southern groundhog, based at a game ranch outside of Atlanta, Ga., is General Beauregard Lee. As far as I know, there are no famous groundhog forecasters in southern Indiana. I don’t know of a Marian Hill Mike or Poseyville Pete.