By Jack Spaulding
With the ongoing ammo shortage, we know hunters are having trouble finding non-toxic shot to take advantage of dove and waterfowl hunting seasons. Non-toxic shot is required for dove hunting on Indiana DNR properties by state law, and federal law requires the use of non-toxic shot for waterfowl hunting across the country.
Both laws are intended to protect the species from the accidental ingestion of lead. On Fish & Wildlife properties, specific fields are set aside for hunters to use for dove hunting, and the fields encourage birds to feed on the ground. When several hunters shoot in the same direction in the same area over time, it causes an accumulation of shot on the ground where birds often feed. Using non-toxic shot protects doves while providing hunters with ample opportunity to hunt them over the fields they’re attracted to.
As you prepare for the upcoming waterfowl seasons opening or plan to hunt doves in November, buy your ammo well in advance. Find more information about waterfowl and migratory game bird season regulations online.
Free CWD testing
The Indiana DNR offers free testing for hunters interested in having their deer tested for chronic wasting disease (CWD). Hunters may voluntarily submit samples for testing at select Fish & Wildlife areas (FWAs) and state fish hatcheries (SFHs) throughout the hunting season. Deer heads may be dropped into designated coolers at select FWAs and SFHs, or hunters may make an appointment to have their harvested deer sampled by a biologist during office hours. Tongue tags will also be available for hunters who wish to have their deer’s head mounted and sampled for CWD – just follow the guidance provided at designated coolers or given by DNR staff. Testing results will be available online.
Harvest a Thanksgiving turkey
Now is the time to bring home your family’s Thanksgiving turkey. The fall archery wild turkey season is open in all Indiana counties through Oct. 31. Many counties also offer a fall firearms wild turkey season from Oct. 20-31. You may purchase your fall wild turkey license and game bird habitat stamp online or at participating retailers. Avoid delaying your season because of long lines or technical difficulties – buy your license now.
The bag and possession limit for the fall seasons is one bird of either sex, regardless of hunting equipment used or what portion of the season you will be hunting. For a full list of wild turkey regulations, pick up a copy of the Indiana Hunting & Trapping Guide from our Fish & Wildlife areas, or find the regulations online. Visit Indiana’s Where to Hunt map to find possible hunting opportunities around the state. Turkey hunting in the fall is also a great time to prepare for deer season by scouting areas where you can hunt both game species.
Tree stand safety
Tree stands are a helpful tool during deer season, but it’s important to follow safe practices every time they are used. Falls from elevated hunting positions are the number one cause of hunting incidents in Indiana. The most important step you can take to have a safe season is to use a full-body harness secured to the tree or a tree stand safety rope. Stay connected and use your harness system from the time you leave the ground, throughout your hunt, and until you descend back down. Here are some additional tree stand safety tips:
• Use a haul line to raise and lower your bow, firearm and other equipment. Make sure firearms are unloaded, actions are open and the safety is on. For bows, make sure broad heads are covered.
• Follow your tree stand’s manufacturer guidelines.
• Choose a live, straight tree the proper size for your stand.
• Be aware of potential hazards from surrounding trees.
• Use a hunt plan. Let someone know where you are hunting and when you plan to return.
Online check-in for deer, wild turkey, river otter
The Indiana CheckIN Game system allows hunters and trappers to register (“check in”) their harvested game from any device connected to the internet. You will receive a confirmation number which must be written down on a temporary transportation tag for the harvested game species (turkey, deer). Be sure to check your information to ensure accuracy before submitting. Deer and wild turkeys must be checked in within 48 hours of harvest; river otters must be checked in within 24 hours of harvest. Have your Customer ID and harvest information ready. Remember, you don’t need to log in to your account to check in game – you can do so by clicking CheckIN Game and entering your Customer ID number and date of birth.
Hunters still have the option of visiting traditional check stations where a confirmation number will be provided for you to place on your temporary transportation tag. There is also a phone-in option at 1-800-419-1326; however, there is a $3 charge for the service (payable by Visa or MasterCard only).
CheckIN Game data filters into real-time harvest tables available on the DNR website. Check harvest numbers for white-tailed deer, wild turkey and river otter, updated daily during open seasons.
Readers can contact the author by writing to this publication, or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Spaulding’s books, “The Best of Spaulding Outdoors,” and his latest, “The Coon Hunter And The Kid,” are available from Amazon.com.