Jack Spaulding

I get a lot of inquiries about the outdoors… many and varied and last week was no exception.

About 10 a.m., a small car pulled up front and a very nice lady came to the door. As I answered the door, she said, “Are you Jack Spaulding?”

I replied to the affirmative, and she continued. “I read your column and I thought you might be able to help me… I have a problem.”

Inquiring as to the nature of her concern, she stated, “I have an animal staying at my pond and I need to know if it is an otter, a mink or a weasel.”

“Is it in the water or on the bank?”

“It’s in the water… I’ve never seen it when it wasn’t swimming.”

“Is it big like a beaver?”

“No, I know what a beaver looks like… it’s smaller. And, it doesn’t seem to be overly afraid of people.”

“Otters are large animals, similar in size to a beaver, so that rules out an otter. Since it stays in the water, it pretty much rules out a mink and definitely a weasel. Does it have hair on its tail?”

“No hair on the tail.”

“Is it about 10 inches long not counting the length of the tail?”


“Madame, I believe you have a muskrat in your pond.”

“Are they destructive?”

“Yes… they will dig holes and make dens in the earth fill of the dam and weaken it. If it goes on too long, your dam could possibly fail.”

“How do I get rid of it?”

“I think since it is on your property and it is being destructive, you can have it destroyed. But, just to be sure, call the Sheriff’s Department and ask them to contact the local conservation officer. He can tell you the regulations.”

Over the years, I have fielded thousands of questions, and some of my readers think I am an employee of the DNR. Well, I’m not… I’m just a guy who loves the outdoors.

The Party’s Over

In response to complaints from Pulaski County residents including excessive littering and other criminal activity by large groups of people on the Tippecanoe River, Indiana Conservation Officers conducted a multi-officer patrol of the river on Saturday, Aug. 31.

While patrolling the river by kayak, Indiana Conservation Officers encountered a large group of individuals floating on tubes and consuming alcohol most of them under the age of 21. Due to the size of the group, Indiana Conservation Officers requested the assistance of the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Department and the Winamac Police Department.

A total of 27 individuals were taken into custody by Indiana Conservation Officers and charged with minor consumption of alcohol, a class C misdemeanor. All 27 were transported and booked into the Pulaski County Jail.

In addition to the 27 minor consumption arrests, Indiana Conservation Officers also charged one individual with possession of marijuana and another was issued a citation for not possessing a wearable personal flotation device as required.

Indiana Conservation Officers were assisted by the Winamac Police Department, Pulaski County Sheriff’s Department, and Pulaski County Jail staff. All individuals facing charges are considered innocent until proven guilty.

Registration For Put-And-Take Pheasant Hunts

Sign-ups for put and take pheasant hunts began on Sept. 7 at 6 a.m. Hunters can begin purchasing a reservation for put and take pheasant hunts at on.IN.gov/INhuntfish. They do not need to log in or create an online account to purchase a reservation, but must have an online account to look up completed reservations at a later date. Hunters must register online for put and take hunts, as the hunts are no longer available on a first-come, first-served basis at Fish & Wildlife Areas (FWAs).

The cost is $30 per reservation. Reservations are non-refundable; however, they can be transferred to another person. Individuals will receive an email notification upon completion of the reservation including their hunt registration ID, date reserved, and property name, and should make sure to keep the confirmation.

FWAs participating in put and take hunts this year are Atterbury, Glendale, J.E. Roush Lake, Pigeon River, Tri-County, Willow Slough, and Winamac. Hunters must check in between 8 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. ET (8 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. CT for Willow Slough) on the day of the hunt. Hunting starts at 9 a.m. at each property.

All hunters are required to have a current Indiana Hunting License and Gamebird Habitat Stamp to participate in put and take hunts. Individuals participating in put and take pheasant hunts at FWAs are prohibited from harvesting game animals other than pheasants on days when pheasants are released and hunted.

Two Evansville Men Charged With Poaching Deer

Austin VanBritson, age 21, and Garrett Hoss, age 19, both of Evansville, were charged with poaching white-tailed deer during the 2018 hunting season in the Vanderburgh County Superior Court.

VanBritson was entered into an informal deferral program through the Vanderburgh County Superior Court on April 26, 2019. VanBritson received a two-year revocation of hunting privileges, was ordered to attend a Hunter Education Course, received 24 hours of community service, and forfeited the rifle used to take the deer. In addition to court-ordered fines and penalties, each were ordered to pay a $500 replacement fee to the DNR for the illegally taken deer.

Indiana Conservation Officers received an anonymous tip on Oct. 31, 2018 a white-tailed deer had been illegally taken in Vanderburgh County the previous day near the Thunderbolt Pass Golf Course in Evansville.

Indiana Conservation Officers Keith Wildeman and Matt Porter responded to conduct surveillance of the area. After several hours, VanBritson and Hoss arrived to retrieve the illegally taken deer, and the officers apprehended the suspects in the act.

Investigation determined VanBritson shot an eight-point buck using a .270 caliber rifle on the previous day after legal hunting hours. VanBritson told the officers he shot the deer as it was standing in a bean field on the north side of Petersburg Road across from the golf course. VanBritson said he located the deer in the evening, then waited for a break in traffic before he stood up through the sunroof of his vehicle and shot across the roadway with his high-powered rifle.

VanBritson and Hoss returned the next morning and located the wounded buck. VanBritson then shot and killed it with a bow and arrow. The men left the scene, intending to return after dark to retrieve the deer.

Both faced multiple charges, including the illegal taking of a white-tailed deer, shooting across a public roadway, shooting from a motorized conveyance, use of artificial light to take white-tailed deer, hunting without landowner consent, hunting without a valid license, and hunting with a firearm in a closed season.

In a separate and unrelated incident in January 2018, VanBritson and Hoss were charged with hunting without landowner consent and illegal possession of a white-tailed deer in Posey County.

To report hunting or fishing violations please call 1-800-TIP-IDNR or the DNR Law Enforcement Central Dispatch (24 hours a day) at 812-837-9536.

‘till next time,


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

Jack’s first book, The Best Of Spaulding Outdoors, a compilation of his favorite articles over 30 years is now available as a Kindle download or as a 250 page paperback from Amazon.com.

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