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Indiana Department of Natural Resources

DNR Home > Divisions > Communications > Outdoor Indiana Magazine - Archives > Outdoor Indiana - September/October 2010 > Outdoor Indiana - September/October 2010 - Featured Stories Outdoor Indiana - September/October 2010 - Featured Stories

Director's Column
Creature Feature
2nd Annual Hoosier Outdoor Experience
Finding and knowing the state's best fossils

Director’s Column

“Experience” the outdoors with free September weekend
Robert E. Carter, Jr.

Director Robert E. Carter, Jr. Anything worth doing is worth doing twice.

That’s our attitude, as the Department of Natural Resources prepares for the second annual Hoosier Outdoor Experience, Sept. 18 and 19, at Fort Harrison State Park in Indianapolis.

Our first try was wildly successful. More than 13,300 people showed up last year for the inaugural event.

With attendance like that (well above the 7,500 we were hoping for), it made sense to offer it again.

The Hoosier Outdoor Experience is a hands-on, interactive event that teaches outdoor skills and conservation to children and families who may not have much experience in such activities. It’s not a trade show or sport show, but an opportunity to actually participate.

In fact, there are at least 50 activities visitors can try on for size. No one can be an expert at all of them, but you can try them at this event.

Want to paddle a kayak? You can do it at the Hoosier Outdoor Experience.

Want to cast a fly rod? You can do it at the Hoosier Outdoor Experience.

Want to hop on a mountain bike? You can do it at the Hoosier Outdoor Experience.

Want to shoot a bow and arrow or a shotgun? You can do that, too. And the event is free, including parking and entrance to the park.

You can even come both days.

DNR staff has been working for the past year to iron out the details. More than 100 partner groups that specialize in various outdoor pursuits have been working right alongside to ensure a good time will be had by all.

Seeing the smiling faces last year on children who caught a fish for the first time or adults who busted a clay target with an accurate shot was all the evidence I needed to know the Hoosier Outdoor Experience is a winner.

So, come on out and try it. The fun is on us at the Hoosier Outdoor Experience.        

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Creature Feature

White-tailed deer
(Odocoileus virginianus)
By Ben Shadley

White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus)Almost everyone in the state recognizes a white-tailed deer, and not just in the wild. Whitetails, as they’re often called, grace everything from calendars to coffee mugs, and fuel a hunting culture that ranks second to none in Indiana. For hunters and wildlife watchers alike, white-tailed deer are objects of nearly obsessive interest.

Less than 100 years ago, however, their future in Indiana was bleak.

“White-tailed deer were extirpated from Indiana in the late 1800s,” said Chad Stewart, DNR Division of Fish and Wildlife deer biologist, “and we had no deer in this state for more than 40 years after that.”

Today’s healthy and still-growing deer population gives testament to the species’ resilience and the effective wildlife management by the DNR (and its forerunner the Department of Conservation).

White-tailed deer live in every county in Indiana, but based on habitat, some areas support more than others.

“When you think of the needs of a whitetail, Indiana fits the bill as well as you can write it,” Stewart said. “Mixed forest habitat, lots of agriculture, and winters that aren’t too severe; it’s hard to top the Midwest as far as production and habitat.”

Cutline: This large buck is in summer coat. The fuzzy coating on its above-average-size antlers indicates they are in velvet. Starting in spring and early summer when antlers are growing, bucks will remove the velvet by rubbing their antlers against small trees, leaving marks commonly referred to as a rub.

To read the rest of this article subscribe to Outdoor Indiana or pick up a copy at most Borders and Barnes and Noble bookstores, and state park inns. To subscribe, click here or call (317) 233-3046.

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Second Annual Hoosier Outdoor Experience

By Ben Shadley

Elementary school kids learn about creek life during student day last year.Outdoor recreation was once a staple of regular family activity, but participation in traditional outdoor pursuits has declined in recent years. That means future generations could miss the vast educational and health benefits of outdoor experiences.

Many have seen the studies, read the books and even joined the movement created by Richard Louv’s book, “Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder.” But books and talk won’t get people outdoors. So, once again this fall the DNR will do something to get kids and their families outside by offering the 2nd annual Hoosier Outdoor Experience, Sept. 18–19, at Fort Harrison State Park in Indianapolis.

The Hoosier Outdoor Experience is modeled after programs in other states and uses planning resources from Weatherby Foundation International. Using this guidance and local expertise yields a wonderful family event..

The Hoosier Outdoor Experience provides two days of free, fun, hands-on outdoor activities designed to introduce students, families and anyone who is uncomfortable or inexperienced in the outdoors to the joys and adventures available across Indiana.

It’s not another trade show, sport show or commercial event. It’s an experiential chance for each participant to try outdoor activities and skills like hiking, shooting sports, fishing, wilderness navigation, wildlife management, mountain biking, canoeing and kayaking, guided by experts and local partner groups. Participants should leave familiar with the Hoosier state’s outdoor offerings and with a knowledge of who can help them develop their new interests.

More than 120 conservation and recreation groups from across the state have pledged volunteers, financial resources and program assistance.

Although there is no charge for the event, please register at hoosieroutdoorexperience.IN.gov to attend. This information will help the staff prepare.

For more information, stop by your local state park office and ask about the Hoosier Outdoor Experience and watch for updates on HoosierOutdoorExperience.IN.gov, or call (317) 234-1072.

Cutline: Elementary school kids learn about creek life during student day last year. More than 600 third-graders learned about fishing, wildlife and ecosystems.

To read the rest of this article subscribe to Outdoor Indiana or pick up a copy at most Borders and Barnes and Noble bookstores, and state park inns. To subscribe, click here or call (317) 233-3046.

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Finding and knowing the state’s best fossils

By Alan Godstein
Photography by Frank Oliver

Fossil bed along the Ohio River at Falls of the Ohio State Park.Since Indiana’s founding almost 200 years ago, massive cultural, environmental and technological change has swept the globe.

But in the overall course of history, two centuries is but a blink of an eye. Comprehending what happened thousands of years ago in Indiana is, of course, far more difficult. To understand, you often have to go underground in search of relics that tell amazing stories of drastic change and nearly unfathomable stretches of time.

We call these fascinating relics fossils, and luckily for us, many are present on the surface, making them easier to find in many places around Indiana.

Specifically, a fossil is evidence of pre-existing life that usually is found in rock. These can range from 10,000 year old ice age fossils to hundreds of million year old fossils that lived in ancient oceans, to be found today in sedimentary rock.

Fossils provide evidence that prehistoric Indiana differed dramatically from today. It has been a marine sea floor, a shallow reef, a bayou; more recently, ice age peat, sand or cave. A wide range of animals and plants have been recorded in the sedimentary layers of limestone, shale and sandstone.

For fossils to be preserved, conditions have to be ideal, and they usually are not. Animals with an exoskeleton like a snail, insect or coral are more likely to be preserved than those with a soft-body, such as a worm or jellyfish.

Fossil hunters can find protists, sponges, corals, annelids, arthropods, mollusks, brachiopods, bryozoa, echinoderms, hemichordates, chordates and plant fossils in Indiana.

Cutline: Countless numbers of corals, stromatoporoid sponges, echinoderms, brachiopods, mollusks, arthropods and microscopic organisms can be found at fossil beds like this along the Ohio River at Falls of the Ohio State Park.

To read the rest of this article subscribe to Outdoor Indiana or pick up a copy at most Borders and Barnes and Noble bookstores, and state park inns. To subscribe, click here or call (317) 233-3046.

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