Potato Creek Park hunt starts Monday

By: Ryan Famuliner Email
By: Ryan Famuliner Email

A walk in the park the next couple days won't be complete without an orange vest.

Monday and Tuesday, Potato Creek State Park will be closed to the public, and only open to hunters.

Officials say their annual deer management hunts are for the good of the park.

More than 200 deer were killed in two hunts in the park in 2006.

The park will hold another hunt December 10th and 11th, and this is the 10th year they've put hunters to work.

The park naturalist says without the hunts, the natural balance would be thrown off: threatening the health of all the living things in the park.

Park officials say it was a desperate situation when the hunts at potato creek started in 1995.

“There were so many deer that they were eating all the plants and everything was just disappearing and everything. All the animals and all the plants in the park were in jeopardy,” said Potato Creek State Park naturalist Tim Cordell.

They say the hunts in years past have done the job, but they're still needed.

“We call this more of a maintenance hunt, because we have the population down, but since deer normally have twins, the population will grow very quickly if you don't continue to do it,” Cordell said.

And for hunters selected through a lottery, the lucky ones get a shot at some prime hunting ground.

“They’ve been notified weeks ago, so it's too late to show up. Only the people that have been notified and selected will be coming into the park,” Cordell said.

Many of the hunters show up the night before, to mark their territory.

“Put the tree stands up, and just check around, check to see where they've been running to, the bucks and all, see if they're in the root,” said Billy Fowler, a hunter who showed up Sunday night to prepare for the hunt.

Or even earlier.

“Really the last week they've been hitting it hard, trying to find, where's the best place to set up, that kind of stuff,” Cordell said.

And because less deer means a healthier park, hunters get some instructions they likely won't mind following.

“On the papers we got they say don’t let anything walk by. I guess they want us to get everything we can, you know,” Fowler said.

In the park hunts, about one deer is taken for each 2 hunters; compared to about 1 for every 5 hunters in more normal settings in Indiana.

There have been a few years where hunts haven't been held, and the previous year's ratio - the hunter's success rate - is one of the things officials look at to decide if the hunts are needed.

193 people were selected for the hunt, and officials say that's the most they've ever invited.

Although they don't expect quite that many - there are always some no-shows.

Each hunter is allowed one buck and two does.

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