Photo provided 
Anderson-based outdoor writer Rick Bramwell displays what he calls a ‘winter yellow.’
Photo provided
Anderson-based outdoor writer Rick Bramwell displays what he calls a ‘winter yellow.’

Our friends at the state legislature may finally be getting it right.

As most hunters know, the legislature passed a law over the objections of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources that certain ‘mainstream’ deer rifles could be used on private property during last fall’s deer season.

The law was controversial for several reasons.  First, some people were convinced that dozens of people would be killed when hunters started cranking rounds all over the landscape.  This fear proved groundless because the DNR has reported no one, hunter or otherwise, was injured by stray rifle rounds during the past season.

Some hunters were concerned that the law would result in a higher deer kill that would further stress the falling herd numbers.  Harvest numbers appear to be slightly down this year but in looking at overall data trends we are still within normal historical ranges.  Of course, all deer hunters want more deer and we agree with anecdotal evidence that suggests the deer herd in our area is noticeably lower than 10 years ago. 

Finally, there were a few people including this writer who didn’t like the fact that the legislature completely ignored a year of work by the DNR and arbitrarily declared a handful of specific cartridges as acceptable.   The law created confusion about legal calibers and was, in our semi-educated opinion, poorly written.

Now, with the filing of House Bill 1415, the legislature is trying to address the problems it created.

The law would remove the old criteria for defining a legal cartridge and replace it with the much simpler rule that any cartridge over .243 inches in diameter and at least 1.16 inches in length is legal. 

Such a rule is pretty simple and tremendously opens up options for the deer hunter.  Now, any cartridge from the popular .243 Winchester and up would be legal for deer hunting.  All other restrictions, such as limiting rifle usage to private property, would remain in place.

The house could drastically spindle, fold and mutilate the bill before it is finalized and voted upon but given the fact that the initial law was easily passed last year, it seems likely that HB1415 will make it into the law books.  This fall many deer hunters might finally get the chance to use that rifle that has been hanging in the rack.

Winter Morels- We give a tip of the hat to our old friend and outdoor writer Rick Bramwell for a recent story he wrote about ‘Winter morel hunting.’

As we also enjoy mushrooms and mushroom hunting, our curiosity was immediately piqued.  Upon reading the article we were delighted to discover that Rick wasn’t talking about a secret place to find the tasty morel in the dead of winter but rather his love of prospecting for ears of corn in picked fields.

Rick does this, with the express permission of the farmer or landowner, to stock his wildlife feeders for the rest of the year with grain that would otherwise go to waste.  He realized that walking through the field and searching for the ears hidden among the cut stalks is much like hunting for mushrooms.  He now considers the activity as part of his regular outdoor calendar rather than a mundane chore.

In his view, bagging a full, unblemished ear of corn is much like finding a “big yellow,” one of the huge yellow morels that are usually scarce but finish out the mushroom hunting season with such a bang.

This is a fun idea and if the weather isn’t too nasty, ask one of your farmer friends for permission to go out with the kids or grandkids to hunt his field for some of these inedible but highly useful Winter Morels.

Reserved Turkey Hunts- Turkey hunters need to get cracking if they want to apply for a reserved turkey hunt at one of Indiana’s Fish and Wildlife Areas or Wildlife Refuges.

There are 23 properties that hold reserve hunts later this spring but the application deadline ends March 19.  The only way to apply for these hunts is online at hunting.in.gov and clicking on the “Reserve Hunt Info” link.

Hunters must possess a valid hunting license before applying and only one application can be made per hunter. 

Boat, Sport and Travel Show- The biggest event on the Hoosier outdoor scene starts in less than a week.  The 63rd Annual Ford Indianapolis Boat, Sport and Travel Show at the Indiana State Fairgrounds begins Friday, February 17 and runs through the 26th

The exceptionally popular Deer, Turkey and Waterfowl Expo runs the last weekend of the show, February 23-26.  Admission is $14 at the door or $12.50 online and covers both events. Seniors 60+ are $12 while children 6-12 are $8. Kids under 6 are free.

For more information visit http://indianapolisboatsportandtravelshow.com.