I had an inquiry the other day about the coming winter. A reader asked if I had seen any wooly bear caterpillars, and how they were marked. At the time, I was yet to see any wooly bears.

The adage of the wooly bear caterpillar assumes the area of black on the insect determines how severe, cold and snowy the winter will be. A caterpillar light colored on both ends and black in the middle would predict a winter with a mild start, a bitter and cold middle, and a mild end. A caterpillar light in the front and black in the back would indicate a winter starting out mild and ending severe and cold.

The other day coming back from a trip to the mailbox, I saw my first wooly bear caterpillar. I gasped a little as I saw the little rascal was solid black! Not a good sign for anyone believing in the forecasting ability of wooly bear caterpillars!

There was a story told years ago about the phenomenal winter forecasting ability of a Native American elder. The story goes the old chief accurately predicted the severity of the coming winters year after year without fail.

The local newspaper sent one of its new reporters to interview the old fellow with the explicit instructions on finding the old Indian’s secret.

With no luck on his first trip, the editor suggested the young reporter he should invite the old Indian to have dinner and a few drinks.

The old Indian gladly accepted the young reporter’s invitation to a good meal and a few drinks.

Toward the end of the evening, they were both getting quite “chummy” and enjoying each other’s company. The young reporter thought now was his chance, and he asked the old Indian how he so accurately predicted the severity of coming winters.

The old Indian nodded, winked, then leaned over to the young reporter and whispered in his ear, “I just look around to see the size of the white men’s wood piles.”

Join Or Zoom IN To The virtual Big Sit!

Join Friends of Goose Pond and DNR in observing and recording birds during the virtual “Big Sit” from 7:55 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Oct. 11.

“The Big Sit” is an international event focused on recording all bird observations at one location over the course of a day.

In previous years, birdwatchers with all levels of experience would attend their local “Big Sit” event, watch birds together, and share food and stories. This year, the “Big Sit” at Goose Pond Fish & Wildlife Area (FWA) will also be hosted virtually by Friends of Goose Pond and DNR.

Throughout the day, virtual guests can watch as roving birdwatchers report what they are seeing at various locations at Goose Pond FWA. The program will allow the virtual guests to learn what bird species visit Goose Pond FWA and how to identify them.

You can virtually attend the free event in two ways. You may register at friendsofgoosepond.org/big-sit for the all-day Zoom broadcast and tune in as your schedule allows. In addition, several Facebook Live “Big Sit” sessions will be shown throughout the day on Indiana Division of Fish & Wildlife Facebook. Visit friendsofgoosepond.org/big-sit to see the schedule of sessions.

Deer Hunters Safety Tips

With the deer reduction zone season underway, and the statewide archery season coming in on Oct. 1, 2020, Indiana Conservation Officers are offering safety tips to help keep Hoosier deer hunters safe.

The various deer hunting seasons run through Jan. 31, 2021. It is estimated more than 300,000 people will participate in some form of deer hunting in Indiana during the various seasons. Such a large number makes safety more even more important.

The most common injuries during deer seasons are accidents involving tree stands and elevated platforms. Follow the safety tips listed below when hunting from an elevated position:

Before the hunt:

• Read and understand the tree stand manufacturer’s instructions.

• Check tree stands and equipment for wear, fatigue, and cracks or loose nuts/bolts, paying particularly close attention to parts made of material other than metal.

• Practice at ground level.

• Learn how to properly wear your full-body safety harness.

During the hunt:

• Wear your full-body safety harness.

• Use a tree stand safety rope.

• Make certain to attach your harness to the tree before leaving the ground, and it remains attached to the tree until you return to the ground.

• Maintain three points of contact during ascent and descent.

• Use boots with non-slip soles to avoid slipping.

• Use a haul line to raise and lower firearms, bows and other hunting gear.

• Make certain firearms are unloaded, action open and safety on before attaching the haul line.

Readers can contact Jack Spaulding by writing to this publication, or e-mail at jackspaulding@hughes.net

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