November 13, 2014

The new rifle season for Indiana deer hunting.

Well fellow hunters we have now finished the first weekend of the first deer season in Indiana that allowed the general use of real rifles.

I know that there were and still are many skeptics about the use of centerfire rifles for deer hunting in Indiana but now that the gun smoke has cleared I would guess that some of you have come to realize that bullets are not in orbit around the earth, every hunter with a rifle didn’t shoot at a deer at 400 yards and all of our windows have not been shot out. All of the deer have not been killed and probably not too many of us had deer shot out from under us by someone with a rifle a half mile away.

I think that covers a good cross section of the concerns that I heard or read about leading up to the current season. I also know for a fact that many hunters who opposed the use of high-powered rifles are out there hunting with them right now.

It still remains to be seen throughout the season whether more deer will actually killed because hunters are using rifles or if there will be an increase in property damage or personal injuries.

Enjoy the rest of the season in a safe and conscientious manner.

Jim Phares

Hunting-It’s a human tradition.

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Much can be found lately on internet forums and social media about the proposal to increase the use of high powered rifles for deer hunting here in Indiana.   This, and the fact that deer numbers seem to be down, have some hunters concerned about our sport.  Many fingers are pointing at our Department of Natural Resources for not managing the deer herd to satisfy all of the needs and desires of the many Much can be found lately on internet forums and social media about the proposal to increase the use of different hunting factions within our state.   Some landowners and farmers wouldn’t care if all of the deer were killed, die hard bow hunters would like everyone to only hunt with bows, some hunters think that we should only kill trophy bucks and some hunters want more generous seasons and bag limits to help introduce their children to hunting and keep them interested.  None of these (and many more) views are right or wrong they are just different opinions.   Much of the talk is that hunting with modern rifles is some crazy new concept and an assault on our deer herd.

It appears that not everyone commenting on the topic has a clear cut definition of what a high powered rifle is.  Is it a rifle that shoots a certain distance or a rifle with a certain amount of energy? A generally accepted term for high powered rifle is any center fire caliber that was designed to be fired from a rifle.  By any of these definitions we can already hunt deer with some modern high powered rifles in Indiana as listed in the state regulations.   We also are allowed to hunt any other game mammal with any firearm we choose.  Most states and countries hunt all of their big game animals with modern rifles and they have not wiped everything out.

For years Indiana deer hunters have had to hunt with firearms that fall short of being great deer guns.  While most of the world hunts big game animals with modern rifles that are the best that they can be, we are left to hunt with inferior (albeit greatly improved upon) firearms.

In many of the comments that I have read I see the 400 yard mark used as a reference point for objecting to the use of modern firearms.  Objectors write “now you will have guys attempting to shoot a deer at 400 yards”.   [I saw a Television show the other day where a guy shot an elk at over 400 yards with a muzzleloader .  I am not passing judgment here but is this conscientious hunting or a stunt?]  Either way it would be allowed in Indiana under the current rules.  If this were done with a .338 Winchester or some other suitable high powered rifle I would just think that it was a good shot from steady hands.

Anyone reading this, that is really interested, please go out and actually measure off 400 yards.   Mark this well, don’t guess!   Now really take a good look at how far that is!

I am a veteran of over 40 hunts outside of Indiana with over half of those outside of the country.  I have  never shot  at anything at 400 yards.  I am not saying that it can’t be done because it absolutely can with a good rifle in good hands.   I know from experience that you can usually get closer.   Theoretically I could shoot a deer at 400 yards on the land that I hunt, and I don’t see anything wrong with that, but realistically I would be lucky to take a shot out to half of that distance due to terrain and vegetation.  I want the accuracy of a quality modern hunting rifle to make the best shot and the most humane kill possible.

There is a reason why hunting with spears and bows with arrows evolved into hunting with muzzleloaders that evolved into hunting with modern hunting rifles.  The reason is that modern rifles are more efficient in every respect.  I have hunted all over the planet and with the exception of Indiana and Southern Michigan I have never been required to hunt big game animals with shotgun, muzzleloader or rifle in a handgun caliber.  Some countries do not even allow bow hunting and consider archery equipment to be inhumane and ineffective.

There is a lot of talk about the lower deer numbers and proposed rifle hunting being another “assault” on our deer herd. I agree that the deer numbers are down but compared to what?  When compared to the astronomically high numbers a few years ago where deer in many parts of the state exceeded their carrying capacity, they are down.  If you compare the numbers of deer we have now to the deer that were around in the 70’s and 80’s we still have a lot of deer.   In the mid 1970’s when I started deer hunting I had more land here in Porter County to hunt than I could have ever hunted and deer were all but nonexistent on most of it.  Now even with lower numbers, deer are everywhere in our state.  Why should we expect our deer population to remain exactly the same all of the time, nothing else does?

We hunters have a lot more power than we exercise when it comes to our deer herd and hunting.  Individually and collectively we can have some control over what goes on in our woods and fields. It is not about the methods used in hunting it is about the number of deer taken.  If you feel that deer numbers are down in your area, use some restraint while hunting.  Don’t shoot as many deer and talk with other hunters about doing the same.   I am not sure if hunters will shoot more deer with rifles but I am convinced that they will recover more that are shot.   We owe it to the animals that we hunt to be as humane as possible, and that is what modern hunting rifles will help to provide.

If muzzleloaders, handguns and rifles in handgun calibers are so inferior that hunting with modern firearms will increase the number of deer shot and recovered maybe we shouldn’t have been hunting with those three in the first place.

As hunters we cannot control what our neighbors do.  We cannot control diseases that harm our deer and we have very limited control of predators at best.  What we can however, control are our own actions.  Don’t blame the DNR for low deer numbers and then still keep shooting all of the deer that you Much can be found lately on internet forums and social media about the proposal to increase the use of high powered rifles for deer hunting here in Indiana.   This, and the fact that deer numbers seem to be down, have some hunters concerned about our sport.  Many fingers are pointing at our Department of Natural Resources for not managing the deer herd to satisfy all of the needs and desires of the many different hunting factions within our state.   Some landowners and farmers wouldn’t care if all of the deer were killed, die hard bow hunters would like everyone to only hunt with bows, some hunters think that we should only kill trophy bucks and some hunters want more generous seasons and bag limits to help introduce their children to hunting and keep them interested.  None of these (and many more) views are right or wrong they are just different opinions.   Much of the talk is that hunting with modern rifles is some crazy new concept and an assault on our deer herd.

It appears that not everyone commenting on the topic has a clear cut definition of what a high powered rifle is.  Is it a rifle that shoots a certain distance or a rifle with a certain amount of energy? A generally accepted term for high powered rifle is any center fire caliber that was designed to be fired from a rifle.  By any of these definitions we can already hunt deer with some modern high powered rifles in Indiana as listed in the state regulations.   Most states and countries hunt all of their big game animals with modern rifles and they have not wiped everything out.

For years Indiana deer hunters have had to hunt with firearms that fall short of being great deer guns.  While most of the world hunts big game animals with modern rifles that are the best that they can be, we are left to hunt with inferior (albeit greatly improved upon) firearms.

In many of the comments that I have read I see the 400 yard mark used as a reference point for objecting to the use of modern firearms.  Objectors write “now you will have guys attempting to shoot a deer at 400 yards”.   [I saw a Television show the other day where a guy shot an elk at over 400 yards with a muzzleloader .  I am not passing judgment here but is this conscientious hunting or a stunt?]  Either way it would be allowed in Indiana under the current rules.  If this were done with a .338 Winchester or some other suitable high powered rifle I would just think that it was a good shot from steady hands.

Anyone reading this, that is really interested, please go out and actually measure off 400 yards.   Mark this well, don’t guess!   Now really take a good look at how far that is!

I am a veteran of over 40 hunts outside of Indiana with over half of those outside of the country.  I have  never shot  at anything at 400 yards.  I am not saying that it can’t be done because it absolutely can with a good rifle in good hands.   I know from experience that you can usually get closer.   Theoretically I could shoot a deer at 400 yards on the land that I hunt, and I don’t see anything wrong with that, but realistically I would be lucky to take a shot out to half of that distance due to terrain and vegetation.  I want the accuracy of a quality modern hunting rifle to make the best shot and the most humane kill possible.

There is a reason why hunting with spears and bows with arrows evolved into hunting with muzzleloaders that evolved into hunting with modern hunting rifles.  The reason is that modern rifles are more efficient in every respect.  I have hunted all over the planet and with the exception of Indiana and Southern Michigan I have never been required to hunt big game animals with shotgun, muzzleloader or rifle in a handgun caliber.  Some countries do not even allow bow hunting and consider archery equipment to be inhumane and ineffective.

There is a lot of talk about the lower deer numbers and proposed rifle hunting being another “assault” on our deer herd. I agree that the deer numbers are down but compared to what?  When compared to the astronomically high numbers a few years ago where deer in many parts of the state exceeded their carrying capacity, they are down.  If you compare the numbers of deer we have now to the deer that were around in the 70’s and 80’s we still have a lot of deer.   In the mid 1970’s when I started deer hunting I had more land here in Porter County to hunt than I could have ever hunted and deer were all but nonexistent on most of it.  Now even with lower numbers, deer are everywhere in our state.  Why should we expect our deer population to remain exactly the same all of the time, nothing else does?

We hunters have a lot more power than we exercise when it comes to our deer herd and hunting.  Individually and collectively we can have some control over what goes on in our woods and fields. It is not about the methods used in hunting it is about the number of deer taken.  If you feel that deer numbers are down in your area, use some restraint while hunting.  Don’t shoot as many deer and talk with other hunters about doing the same.   I am not sure if hunters will shoot more deer with rifles but I am convinced that they will recover more that are shot.   We owe it to the animals that we hunt to be as humane as possible, and that is what modern hunting rifles will help to provide.

If muzzleloaders, handguns and rifles in handgun calibers are so inferior that hunting with modern firearms will increase the number of deer shot and recovered maybe we shouldn’t have been hunting with those three in the first place.

As hunters we cannot control what our neighbors do.  We cannot control diseases that harm our deer and we have very limited control of predators at best.  What we can however, control are our own actions.  Don’t blame the DNR for low deer numbers and then still keep shooting all of the deer that you are allowed.  After all, no-one is holding a high powered rifle to your head.

The great blue heron was a statue at the edge of the only open water, the surrounding snow covered ice protected what lives beneath. The gently falling snow powdered the solitary hunter as he waited patiently for a meal to swim within range.  For the time this was his world; a microcosm of the great marsh that once was.

I just finished publishing my first book-a collection of short stories about my many trips to Africa. I hope you enjoy it! Available now at amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com.

http://outskirtspress.com/myafricanlife/

Grant's first deer hunt

Waiting patiently in our blind

Last weekend was Indiana’s youth season for deer hunting.  Beginning hunters under the age of eighteen are allowed to hunt deer for two days by any method that is legal in Indiana.  My son Grant and I spent part of each morning and each evening of the two day season in a blind overlooking food plots likely to be  visited by deer.  Seven year old Grant decided for himself that he only wanted to shoot a buck for his first deer.

When I was Grant’s age deer were almost unknown to me.  They were all but nonexistent here in Northwest Indiana.  Along with the human population the wildlife population has increased dramatically.  Young hunters today have opportunities that we never dreamed.

http://share.shutterfly.com/share/received/welcome.sfly?fid=455882484fd30804&sid=0AaNGLNu5Ztmjlg

This is a link to a photo book I put together after my safari trip to Namibia. I was fortunate to have taken some great photos. Another trip is planned for September 2013. A few spots are still available. Contact me for more info at jim@pharestaxidermy.com

What do you think?

The writer must write what he has to say, not speak it.
– Ernest Hemingway

Having lived in close proximity to the prison farm known as West Farm located in Pine Township, Porter County Indiana for all of my adult life, it brought great joy to see it be converted back into wildlife habitat after all of these years.  I was further blessed by successfully drawing for the very first dove hunt to be held on this recently acquired DNR property now known as the Reynolds Creek Gamebird Habitat Area.  This new property will be managed from Kingsbury Fish and Wildlife area, the closest other DNR property.

 

Two sunflower fields were planted there more than two miles apart and doves seemed to start gathering in the area soon after planting.  About a week before dove season opened part of the sunflowers were mowed; this helps hunters access the fields and makes recovery of birds that are taken much easier.

 

Due to the recent hurricane in the Gulf we were supposed to get quite a bit of rain on opening day.  The skies darkened and a few drops of rain hit our windshield as we drove

to Kingsbury. Soon after signing in we were on our way to participate in the first dove hunt ever held at the Reynolds Creek property.

 

The hunting was slow at first but after awhile the birds started flying around more and began feeding in the sunflowers and the nearby corn.  The skies remained cloudy all day and intermittent rain actually felt good during the heat of the day.  The rain had no impact on our hunting and was completely over about halfway through the hunt.  All of the hunters in the field had shooting with a little more going on at the east end of the sunflower field.  We brought home a generous bag of doves that will be enjoyed by the family over the holiday weekend.  The most important part of the hunt for me is just being outdoors.

 

In December of last year Governor Mitch Daniels announced that the 1250 acre prison property would be transferred to the Department of Natural Resources.  This came as a huge surprise to many of us who thought that there might be a battle over keeping this huge amount of land for the public to use for hunting, fishing and related activities.  Anyone who has lived in PorterCounty as long as I have has seen nothing but loss of available land for wildlife habitat.  This acquisition gives a diverse habitat area back to the people of PorterCounty and the state of Indiana that can be used for a multitude of recreational activities.

 

With the habitat restoration that is planned for the new site, the wildlife of Porter County has a better looking future.

I took these photos during my last trip to Africa in Namibia. I spent a day in Etosha National Park sightseeing and saw many different species of animals.

A zebra photo was entered in the constest. Here is the link:

http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/traveler-magazine/photo-contest/2012/entries/142216/view/

What do you think?

ImageMother and baby elephant at water hole.

 

An article I wrote for Huntnetwork.com

http://huntnetwork.net/modules/wfsection/article.php?articleid=891