For many, these are the pale months. Hunting seasons are over and for most, still a bit early for prime spring fishing opportunities. For some, cabin fever has reached its peak, making it the perfect time to gain outdoor knowledge, all in the warm confines of Kokomo’s only outdoor education center.
The Kokomo Parks and Recreation Department will host another IDNR-certified Hunter Education class. The free program will be held from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on March 17, and again from noon to 4 p.m. on March 18. Classes will take place at the Kirkendall Nature Center located in rustic Jackson Morrow Park, 4200 S. Park Road. The program is open to the first 125 who sign-up. Registrations may be made by calling the Parks Department office at 765-456-7275.
The Kirkendall Nature Center provides the perfect venue for this type of outdoor-oriented program. The Center is home to more than 50 artistically preserved fish and wildlife species native to the Hoosier state. Many owners have graciously donated their trophies to the Parks Department for public display in the hopes of enriching the outdoor learning experience.
The DNR also has granted permission to display protected species such as a badger, bobcat and several birds of prey.
The Hunters Ed. program consists of 10 hours of classroom instruction spread over the two-day period. Some subject areas covered include hunter responsibility, ethics and wildlife conservation. Students also will learn about tree-stand safety, game care and first aid.
Denny Heaton and his trained staff do a masterful job presenting the importance of complete firearm safety, covering nearly every type of short and long gun. An in-depth seminar on archery equipment is also offered.
Don’t think Indiana’s Hunter Education is just for kids or hunters. Everyone can benefit from the wealth of information presented. I personally believe Hunter Ed. should be required in every school curriculum.
To achieve lifetime certification in Indiana’s Hunter Ed program, all students must attend the 10-hours of instruction and obtain a minimum 70 percent correct on the 100 question final exam. Because of this we recommend students be at least nine years of age.
Rare Bird Makes Stop in Indiana
For several days, bird watchers were amazed to spot a hooded crane at Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife Area in Greene County in southern Indiana. When word spread, people from all over flocked to catch a glimpse. The crane evidently flew 7,000 miles from its home range in Asia. These birds nest in southeastern Russia and northern China and winter in Japan.
How the wayward bird ended up so far from home is unclear as well as how long the bird will stay in Indiana. Some sandhill cranes are cousin to the hooded crane and migrate from Asia to the southeastern Unites States. Some speculate the hooded crane may have inadvertently followed its cousins.
These birds stand about 3 feet tall and have a red and black crown on an otherwise white head and charcoal-colored body. The International Crane Foundation estimates the world population around 9,500.
“This wetland is kind of rare in this part of the state,” said Goose Pond property manager Brad Feaster. “So it’s a magnet for water birds of all sorts. When they are flying high in the air, this place sticks out.”
Goose Pond is an 8,000-acre property of restored wetlands and prairie that is owned by the DNR and located near the town of Linton. Opening in 2005, it has become a regional destination for bird watching and waterfowl hunting. About 260 different bird species have been spotted on the public property.
ATV Course Offered Online
All-terrain vehicles (ATVs) of all types have exploded in popularity with each passing year. With that come numerous injuries due to improper knowledge and use. These types of accidents have increased nearly 40 percent over the past four years, from 153 in 2008 to 214 in 2011. Keep in mind these are reported accidents as many may go unreported.
Indiana’s DNR divisions of Law Enforcement and Outdoor Recreation have come together in offering an on-line ATV safety course. This class helps educate people on the rules of safe riding, operation and use of ATVs. It also covers the responsibilities riders should have for other ATV users as well as our environment and general information on how to prepare for the unexpected.
The online course may be found at www.offroad-ed.com/in/index.htm. and may be completed at your own pace. There is a $30 fee associated with the course.
Individuals who successfully complete the test will be issued a lifetime certification certificate.
• John Martino is the Tribune’s outdoors columnist. He may be reached by email at email@example.com.