March brings a lot of excitement with the arrival of spring finally in sight.
The change is difficult for many, and hunters in particular have to deal with the closure of the majority of hunting and trapping seasons. Conditions at this time of year are anything but perfect for enjoying the outdoors, and established hunting seasons shouldn’t be allowed to put an end to the adventure.
During the last week of the small game season, my beagles and I hunted hard, making the most of the opportunity while it was available. Despite the small game season spanning five months, there is always a sense of urgency as the last day approaches.
One of the many benefits of owning a hunting dog, however, is that the season never ends. I am already planning a trip to the Indiana Beagle Club to enjoy the terrain and will continue to train throughout the spring.
Males still cling to their antlers, although some have begun to shed their headgear. For several days last week I was constantly on the lookout for hidden treasure, but the best I found was an old license plate from the 1980s. In early February I found an old shed and another freshly abandoned, although the best hunting is later this month and early April.
Those with always-on trail cameras are at an advantage because they can monitor when a particular buck is dropping his antlers. I spoke with another hunter who spent a day looking for sheds but came up empty handed despite his skills and good winter habitat.
Although an antler can be found almost anywhere, focusing on areas where deer congregate during the winter will increase the chances of finding gold. Paying attention and taking note of where deer are common at this time of year will give you a better chance of hunting. Unfortunately, where you find a shed does not equate to a good place to hunt deer in the fall.
South slopes, dense evergreen thickets, and windswept fields are all good places to hunt sheds. Stream and road crossings are also good places to dislodge a wood, but I’ve never found one in such a situation. Most of the woods I find are on the edge of an agricultural field, but I must say that most of my efforts are concentrated there.
Trails leading to the field should be followed through the woods and the field sought close to where the deer enter. Sleeping areas are another good place to find antlers, as deer spend most of their time there or travel to and from food sources. Squirrels quickly devour a piece of wood, and in the woods, shelters do not last long before damage is caused by chewing.
An excuse to get out is enough for me to anticipate and plan several shed hunts each spring.
- Though it’s hard to believe, trout season will soon be upon us, allowing anglers to explore our state’s waterways. Approved trout waters are plentiful and there is no need to search or travel far to find a suitable place to set a line.
Exploring new areas before the season should lead to a better understanding of the water and where trout might reside. If you have time, helping to seed the lake or stream can reveal useful information.
The quantity, size and species of trout stocked will allow the fisherman to better prepare for opening day. Time being limited in life, using this end of winter to stock up will allow you to get into the water in better shape. Taking an inventory of gear is fun to do, although it can sometimes take a while to find. Freshly spooled line, hooks, lures, sinkers and waders will all be needed on opening day.
Fishing licenses are relatively affordable, and buying one as soon as possible will avoid the long queues and have it on hand when the opportunity arises to get in the water. A number of sports clubs offer fishing tournaments for children, and signing up for one now will allow the anticipation to build until the event.