Lace up the hiking boots for a special levee hike through Stillwater Marsh in Monroe County on Dec. 31.

The hike will begin at 2 p.m. It’s free but limited to 20 participants. Registration is required by calling (812) 837-9546.

Hikers will meet at the North Fork check station, east of Bloomington.

During the winter and early spring, water is pumped into Stillwater Marsh from the north fork of Salt Creek to create an important resting area for waterfowl. In mid-April, the marsh is drained and then planted with wildlife food crops. The result is a rich habitat area for animals of all types. Read More→

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Salamonie Lake is holding a winter day camp for children ages 7 to 11, Dec. 27-29.

Each day provides a variety of activities during the 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. camp. Participants will enjoy indoor and outdoor activities, movie time, snacks, crafts and games.

Activities include: building a life-size replica of an Eastern Woodland wigwam, learning to shoot a bow and arrow, discovering how to track an animal through the woods, starting a campfire with a bow and drill, daily crafts, hikes and more. Participants should bring warm play clothes, an extra pair of shoes and gloves.

Activities are guided by interpretive naturalists trained to provide a safe and fun environment. A snack will be provided. Children need to bring a sack lunch with drink each day. Read More→

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The annual Holiday in the Village celebration will take place on Friday, Dec. 2 and Saturday, Dec. 3 from 5-9 p.m. at Spring Mill State Park.

Visitors are invited to stroll through the Pioneer Village as heritage interpreters craft holiday decorations, bake cookies, and prepare to celebrate a late 1800s Christmas.

Wassail and cookies will be served in the Village Tavern, and children can stop by the Village Pottery Shop to visit Father Christmas.

Live music will also be offered on Friday and Saturday evening in the Gristmill.

Park admission during the event is $5 per vehicle for in-state residents and $7 per vehicle for out-of-state residents.

Spring Mill State Park is at 3333 State Road 60 East, Mitchell, 47446.

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Annual Entrance Permits for 2012 for Indiana State Parks and Reservoirs are now available for online purchase.

Order an Annual Entrance Permit, which costs $36 for state residents, by going to InnsGifts.com. The Golden Hoosier Permit is available at the same website to those over age 65 for $18. Each permit allows entrance into any state park or reservoir for one vehicle with Indiana license plates throughout 2012.

Annual Entrance Permits are also available for purchase at state parks and reservoirs across Indiana.

For reservations at any of the state park inns, call 1.877.LODGES 1 (1.877.563.4371) or visit
IndianaInns.com.

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Firearms season for white-tailed deer in Indiana opens Nov. 12, and a DNR wildlife expert predicts another year of near-record harvest numbers.

Hunters are coming off a third straight record harvest, having tagged 134,004 deer in 2010. DNR deer biologist Chad Stewart said conditions for the 2011 season are shaping up similarly to the 2010 season.

“I’d hate to predict a record, but we should be close to it” Stewart said. “It’s almost guaranteed to be a top-three harvest.”

Firearms season generally accounts for about 65 percent of the overall deer harvest. Legal firearms for firearms season are shotguns, muzzleloaders, handguns and center-fire rifles of specific cartridge dimensions.

The 16-day firearms season ends Nov. 27.

Hunters on opening weekend of firearms season last year harvested 37,525 deer.

Steuben County led the state in overall number of deer harvested last year with 3,948. The harvest exceeded 1,000 deer in 64 counties; exceeded 2,000 deer in 17 counties; and exceeded 3,000 deer in five counties. Counties with high harvests tend to have a good mix of woods and farm ground.

“For a deer hunter, Indiana is great because it can sustain a very high population and a very healthy population,” Stewart said.

The number of antlered deer harvested in 2010 was 53,007, or about 40 percent of the overall harvest.

Approximately 60 biologists will be at check stations across the state on opening day of firearms season to collect biological information and sample deer for the presence of chronic wasting disease.

Biologists also will collect samples to test for bovine tuberculosis at the following locations:

–Dearborn County: Tedesco’s Convenient Store, 24486 State Line Road, Lawrenceburg (812-637-5777); Day Nite Food Mart, 13891 Indiana 350, Moores Hill (812-744-4300);
Widolff General Store, 7981 York Ridge, Guilford (812-487-2665); and Manchester Deer Processing, 18675 Willoughby Road, Aurora (812-926-2600)

–Fayette County: Mustin’s Taxidermy, 1660 W CR 350 S, Connersville (765-825-5943)

–Franklin County: 52 Pik-Up, 11183 U.S. 52, Brookville (765-647-3600)

–Ripley County: French’s Locker/Prime Meats, 106 Sycamore St., Batesville (812-934-2902)

Muzzleloader season starts Dec. 3 and lasts through Dec. 18. Early archery season, which is already underway, lasts through Nov. 27. Late archery season opens Dec. 3 and lasts through Jan. 1, 2012.

Unless otherwise exempted, a license is required to hunt deer during the firearms season. The DNR is encouraging hunters to buy their licenses early and avoid waiting until the last minute. The DNR Customer Service Center and the DNR Deer Hotline will not be open on Friday, Nov. 11, in observance of Veterans Day.

Licenses can be purchased online at www.IndianaOutdoor.IN.gov, or by calling the DNR Customer Service Center at (317) 232-4200, or at a retailer or DNR site listed at www.IndianaOutdoor.IN.gov.

The Deer Hunting Guide is available online at http://www.in.gov/dnr/fishwild/6032.htm.

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