Patoka Sportsman 12-21-19

Patoka Sportsman 12-21-19

With the recent snowfall and dropping temperatures, Indiana Conservation Officers advise being mindful of the potential hazards of frozen lakes, ponds, rivers and streams.

It’s also important to keep a watchful eye on neighborhood retention ponds, lakes and other waterways for others who may venture out and find themselves in trouble.

Every winter, thousands of Hoosiers safely enjoy fishing, skating, hiking, or just sliding around on frozen ponds and lakes. And every year, people drown after falling through ice.

Just like driving differently on snow versus clear roads, some may need to re-learn how to safely have fun on ice.

Put safety first. The best rule of thumb is, when thinking about getting on the ice, believe it is thin ice unless proven otherwise.

Here are a few tips to remember when considering standing on or walking on a frozen lake or pond:

  1. No ice is safe ice.
  2. Test the thickness of the ice with an ice auger. At least 4 inches of ice is recommended for ice fishing; 5 inches is recommended for snowmobiling.
  3. If you don’t know the thickness of the ice, don‘t go on it.
  4. Wear life jackets or flotation coats.
  5. Carry ice hooks and rope gear.
  6. Before going on the ice, leave a note of your whereabouts with a friend or family member.
  7. Don’t test the thickness of the ice while alone.

Wearing a life jacket is especially important when on the ice. If you fall through, a life jacket will keep your head above the water until help arrives.

The coating of snow that Indiana just received can make for treacherous ice conditions. The snow can insulate the ice, causing it to freeze at a slower rate. When snow and rain freeze into ice, it is never as strong as solid, clear ice.

If you see a pet or other animal in distress on the ice, do not go after it. Doing so can often end in tragedy. Instead, contact your local emergency response personnel, who are equipped to make a rescue.

Some bodies of water will appear to be frozen solid but actually can have thin ice in several potentially unexpected areas. Flowing water, such as rivers and streams, should be avoided when covered by a layer of ice. Water that is surrounded by sand may freeze with inconsistencies in the thickness of the ice.

Underground springs, wind, waterfowl and other animals can also keep areas of ice thin.

It’s been a great year for osprey at Lake Monroe! For the first time ever, two pairs built nests, and one pair successfully fledged a chick. Earlier in the fall, a nature photographer captured a shot of a banded osprey from Montana (pictured). This was the first Indiana record of an osprey from the western United States. After reporting the band to, the photographer was contacted by the biologist who had originally banded the bird as a chick along the Yellowstone River near Billings, Montana.

Once listed as endangered in Indiana, the osprey made a comeback after a DNR restoration effort released 96 osprey from 2003-2006. Osprey were delisted in 2018. Because osprey depend on a healthy population of fish and clean water, the success of this species in Indiana points to a healthy environment that all Hoosiers can enjoy. Continued monitoring of osprey in Indiana is funded through donations to the Nongame Wildlife Fund: Learn more about osprey at

If you have a young hunter who was born after December 31, 1986 they will need to pass an Indiana Hunter Ed Course before buying a hunting license.  You must be at least 12 years old to take the online course.  There is a fee of $19.95 to take the online course.  Many organizations will be having Hunter Ed Courses after the first of the year and throughout the year.  A youth who would like to hunt can purchase up to three apprentice licenses at a cost of $7 each to see if they like hunting before they take the course.  Apprentice licenses also apply to adults.  You must also be a resident of Indiana to take the online course.

An Indiana Hunter Education Course is slated for Friday, January 24 through Saturday, January 25 at the Dubois County 4-H Fairgrounds. Classes will run from 6:00p.m. to 9:00p.m. on Friday 24th and from 8a.m. to 4:00p.m. on Saturday 25th. Participants must attend both days to complete the course. All Indiana residents are invited to complete this FREE course. All instruction will be by Indiana conservation officers and certified Indiana volunteer hunter education instructors. Certification is required for anyone born after December 31, 1986, who wishes to purchase an Indiana hunting license. The course will cover ethics, safety, laws, survival and safe handling practices for archery, black powder and firearms. Lunch will be provided for participants and attending family members on Saturday for $5/person.  To sign up, visit There is a 150- student limit for the class and pre-registration is required. This course is being sponsored by the Dubois County Shooting Sports Instructor Council. For questions, call (812)685-2447.

The DNR has recently launched a new interactive website allowing deer hunters to access white-tailed deer harvest data. Hunters have asked for detailed harvest data and comparisons between years. This new website is a direct result of that feedback. Harvest data is updated daily.  The link is To date 107,189 deer have been taken statewide. 

Muzzle loader season is open through December 26. The special antlerless deer season runs through Jan. 5 in counties that previously had a bonus quota of 4 or more.  Now that limit is two antlerless deer in those counties using any legal equipment including firearms. Remember to check where you can hunt during the special antlerless firearms season. Counties that have historically been open for this season may have changed this year. County bonus antlerless quotas were also reduced in response to the effects of epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) on the deer herd this year. Statewide archery is open through Jan. 5.   Turkey archery season also runs through Jan. 5.    Rabbit seasons runs through Feb. 28.  You can hunt quail south of Interstate 74 until January 10.  Coyote season runs through March 15.

The hunters for the hungry is still underway until the end of deer season.  We will have the same four processors involved.  They include Sanders Processing, Ferdinand Processing, Ohio Valley Custom Deer Processing in English and Cannelburg Processing.  If you legally harvest a deer and would like to donate to our Hunters for the Hungry, administered by the Dubois County Sportsmen’s Club, you can take it to any of the processors mentioned.  You must donate the entire deer.  If you donate more than once each time you donate your name will be put into a drawing to win a firearm donated by Dr. Greg Gordon at Jasper Optical Lab.  So far we’ve had 84 deer donated to the Hunters for the Hungry.  If you’d still like to hunt and can’t use the deer meat do something nice for those less fortunate and donate it.  The meat will be processed by one of our four processors mentioned above and paid for through a grant from the Sportsmen’s Benevolence Fund.  It’s a great way to “give thanks” for the tremendous opportunity we have as sportsmen to do something we enjoy.

Experience the world of eagles in Indiana with indoor & outdoor programs at Patoka Lake Nature Center on Saturday, January 4, 2020 from 10:00a.m. – 4:30p.m. E.S.T. during the 32nd annual Eagle Watch. Featured will be a resident bald eagle & other live raptors. Dana Reckelhoff, DNR Patoka Lake Interpretive Naturalist, will share the life and story of these amazing birds of prey. Join Brian Finch, Patoka Lake Wildlife Specialist and his team on driving tours to hot spots for eagle viewing. Rex Watters, Monroe Lake Wildlife Biologist, will share the history of the 1980’s Eagle Reintroduction Program and the success of this species! Discover interesting information about eagles found in your part of the state. Other short topics include flight and osprey. A catered meal will be provided. Kid’s activities and crafts will be available from 12:30 – 4:00p.m. Cost is $15/person. Advanced registration is required and can be submitted by calling the Patoka Lake Nature Center at (812)685-2447. Dress for the weather and don’t forget to bring binoculars, spotting scopes, and cameras! Have vehicles fueled for the driving tour. This event is limited to the first 90 registered participants.