Sandhill Cranes and Indiana
This cool weather has put wildlife on the move. Bow-benders are killing some big bucks, and sandhill cranes are beginning to migrate. When viewing sandhills, there is no better state than Indiana.
Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife area provides viewing shacks to watch the spring mating rituals and the fall migration.
On October 4, 2023, there were only 744 cranes on the property. Just six days later, another 1,334 had dropped in. Look for those numbers to swell to about 32,000 by mid-November.
The best time to view these giant waterfowl is early morning when they leave their roosting marshes and fly to nearby crop fields. Some will stop at the open grassland of the refuge to feed.
Beginning about an hour before sunset, the cranes glide in from all directions to socialize and feed on the grass near the observation structure. At last light, they take a short flight to the marshes to spend the night.
Unless we have a severely cold winter, their eventual destination is the Goose Pond Refuge in southern Indiana’s Green County.
Deer Hunting Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area
When, if by chance, I get drawn to deer hunt at Whitewater State Park. I will see plenty of sandhills. I don’t think the DNR has a count on them there, but they will number in the thousands the second week in November.
The headwaters of the Brookville Reservoir border the western edge of Whitewater State Park. The sandhills roost on the river but not on Whitewater Lake. The cranes do not like to associate with those rowdy Canada geese who prefer the small lake.
Almost any place you hunt in the park will be a good vantage point as the Sandhills take flight low over the treetops. They squawk a lot, and their wings flapping in unison sound like thunder.
The IDNR website is difficult to negotiate, especially when learning if you were drawn for hunts. As I have said in previous columns, their computer hates me. I even changed the spelling of my name to trick it, to no avail.
Since I could not find anything posted about the hunts, I called the DNR Indy office. The very nice lady looked me up and began with, “You didn’t get drawn for Fairbanks, Deer Creek.” I interrupted her and said, “All I care about is Whitewater State Park. She replied, “You did not get drawn for Whitewater.” She kept going down the list. “Not Successful was after my name on every line. Then, at the bottom, she said, “Oh wait, you got drawn for the early Whitewater hunt but not the late one.”
For about the 40th year in a row, I was not drawn for the private land pheasant hunt, Deer Creek, Fairbanks, and others.
On the state park hunts, you are allowed to harvest three deer with a tag not being necessary. Only one can have antlers. The purpose of the hunt is to reduce the herd to prevent over-browsing.
I can interpret the sandhills now, saying, “Welcome back, Ricky, welcome back!”
Joseph Wren took his 12-year-old son Brogan hunting on youth weekend. They were sitting in a double ladder stand when Brogan raised his .243 rifle and fired. His first buck may prove to be his best. It had 19 points. Congratulations on a good shot at 55 yards.