Patoka Sportsman 5-16 & 5-17-20
Now that Indiana’s turkey season is over I’ve got to brag on my grandson who got his first turkey last Saturday. We have been talking about going since the season began and it finally happened. We went to the gun range on Friday evening so he could familiarize himself with the Winchester 20 gauge he’d be using the next morning. He took two shots and felt comfortable.
Opening morning was a chilly 30 degrees as I rolled him out of bed at 4:50 AM. He got right up and got dressed. We heated up our bacon, egg and cheese biscuits we made the night before packed the truck and we were off.
It was a perfect morning. No wind. Gobbling started at 6:15 right on cue. We were set up in the ground blind and the gobblers were quite a ways off but previous trips to this location indicated that they’d be coming our way once they got off the roost. I called a couple times and not one but multiple gobblers answered. They started to get closer. They were just over the hill now sounding off loudly. Finally one gobbler popped his head over the hill and spotted the decoys. As he stepped out from behind a tree my grandson got his first bird. I was probably more proud and excited than he was as he started jumping up and down inside the blind and shouting “I got a turkey”, “I got a turkey.” After lots of pictures and conversation we headed home to show his mom, little brother and Gigi his first gobbler. It was a day that I will never forget and neither will he. So proud of him.
All DNR properties including state parks, state forests, fish and wildlife areas, nature preserves and state recreation areas are OPEN. However, some services and facilities are temporarily closed. See below for list. All DNR properties will resume charging entrance fees no later than May 15. A full breakdown of entrance and other fees can be found at stateparks.IN.gov/ 5062.htm.
- Indiana DNR-managed lakes, trails, boat ramps and wildlife areas at Patoka and Monroe lakes remain OPEN. However, public facilities managed directly by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at or below the dams at these lakes (i.e., tailwater areas, observation mounds, etc.) are CLOSED.
- Unstaffed archery ranges - OPEN.
- Restroom availability will be LIMITED. Day use restrooms and vault toilets will open at DNR properties by May 15. Until then, guests should come prepared for restroom use to be restricted.
- Marinas are OPEN with limited operations.
- Disc Golf Courses and Fish Cleaning Stations – OPEN.
- Welcome Centers, Nature Centers, Historic Buildings, Visitor Centers and Forest Education Center hours may be reduced, and social distancing may limit the number of guests allowed in the respective facility at one time.
- Campgrounds are CLOSED (tentatively scheduled to OPEN May 24). There is no overnight camping on any DNR properties.
- All property offices - CLOSED. Passes and permits can be purchased online at ShopINStateparks.com. Property maps are available online. Find contact information on office doors.
- State park inns and restaurants - CLOSED (tentatively scheduled to OPEN May 24).
- Family cabins and camper cabins - CLOSED (tentatively scheduled to OPEN May 24).
- Playgrounds, fire towers, and other similar facilities - CLOSED
- Shooting ranges - CLOSED.
- Shelters, recreation buildings, and other enclosed picnic areas - CLOSED.
- State Park Inn pools and the aquatic center at Abe Martin Lodge - CLOSED.
- Pokagon State Park: Artesian well and shelter at the end of Spring Trail - CLOSED.
- Mounds State Park: Artesian well - CLOSED.
- All group camps, youth tent and rally tent areas - CLOSED.
- Drinking fountains - OFF. Water charging stations and buckets for filling campers will be turned on as weather improves.
- Vending machines - OFF.
- The DNR Customer Service Center in downtown Indianapolis is CLOSED TO THE PUBLIC but is still available by telephone (see below for number).
- All indoor and outdoor public programs and special events are postponed through May 31. Virtual programming is available on DNR’s social media accounts; watch the DNR calendar for details.
- All fishing tournaments on DNR owned/operated properties - CANCELED (TENTATIVELY SCHEDULED TO RESUME JUNE 14.)
- All fishing tournaments that require a permit through DNR, even if they are not on DNR owned/operated property - CANCELED (TENTATIVELY SCHEDULED TO RESUME JUNE 14.)
They continue to implement recommendations from the Indiana State Department of Health and other directives from the State of Indiana regarding any future closures or cancellations. Notifications of any changes will be provided directly to guests and groups with reservations.
You are urged to do business with the DNR online and by phone.
The DNR Customer Service Center staff can answer questions and sell annual state park passes, DNR lake permits and hunting/fishing licenses at 317-232-4200 or 877-463-6367. Hours are 8:30 a.m. - 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Online and phone options include:
- Buy hunting and fishing licenses at Indiana Fish & Wildlife Online License System
- Make or change State Park Inns reservations online or by phone at 877-LODGES1 (1-877-563-4371). Call center is open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.
- Make or change campground reservations online or by phone at 866-622-6746.
- Buy annual state park passes, lake permits, horse tags and off-road riding permits at ShopINstateparks.com.
Instead of working on the frontline at state parks these days, interpretive naturalists are working online. As a result, at-home “park visitors” who are unable to enjoy state park features interpreters normally provide, like in-person nature hikes and programs, can enjoy virtual hikes, presentations, and live streaming programs from their homes. Virtual events include wildflower walks, nature talks, history programs, craft tutorials, pre-school programs, property tours, and more. Program length ranges from five to 50 minutes.
May is a wonderful time to go fishing – longer, sunny days mean the water is warming, and the fish are biting. Not sure what to use as bait or a lure? As active as fish are now, they aren’t picky. They’ll bite artificial lures like spinners, jigs, and flies. Small hooks with red worms, bee moths, or crickets also work. Some aquatic insects will be hatching, so you may wish to match the hatch. The best thing to do is get out there and wet a line.
The extension for 2019-20 annual licenses and stamps per Indiana Executive Order 20-08 ends May 22 at 11:59 p.m. After this date, those wishing to hunt and/or fish will need a valid 2020-21 license. Buy yours online or at a local retailer.
The best way you can help wildlife is to keep them wild and provide excellent habitat for them. Native wildflowers, grasses, shrubs, and trees are ideal landscaping choices for wildlife. These plants provide both direct and indirect sources of food by bearing edible fruit, leaves, and host sites for insects eaten by songbirds and other animals. As the planting season starts, consider incorporating native plants on your landscape. Learn more.
The race is still on for 2020! Registration is open for the Full Moon 5K taking place at Patoka Lake beach on Friday, June 5 at 9:15p.m. Race 3.1miles through the woods on roadways, a well-maintained gravel and grass lane and paved bike trail lit by moonlight and tiki torches. Race for a cause! All proceeds from this event will go to support Patoka’s non-releasable raptors; a red-tailed hawk, eastern screech owl and bald eagle. Early registration is $25 which includes a race t-shirt. Go to http://fullmoon5K.itsyourrace.com to register today! For more information call (812)685-2447. If you are interested in sponsoring this event please contact the Race Director, Dana Reckelhoff at (812)685-2447 or by email at [email protected] .
G Grab your friends, family, fishing pole, tackle and bait, and head over to Patoka Lake on Saturday, June 6th from 9:00a.m. to 11:30a.m. for the annual Kids’ Fishing Derby. Park at Osborn Ramp, off Highway 145. This event is for children 12 years of age and under and they must be accompanied by an adult. Prizes will be awarded! The award ceremony will begin at 11:00a.m. Advance registration is required this year to enhance safety of participants due to Covid 19. Register by calling the Patoka Lake Nature Center at (812)685-2447. Plan to bring lawn chairs, sun screen and refreshments, and join in the fun! For more information regarding this program or other interpretive events, call the Nature Center at 812.685.2447.