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Jasper-Pulaski Fish & Wildlife Area

Updated on April 27, 2015
The nearby town of San Pierre has adopted the sandhill crane as its symbol
The nearby town of San Pierre has adopted the sandhill crane as its symbol | Source

Jasper-Pulaski Fish & Wildlife Area is located about 50 miles north of Lafayette Indiana, just off of U.S. 421. As you would expect from the name, hunting and fishing are allowed there. The property is best known as a stopover point for sandhill cranes during their fall migration. Their numbers top out at over 10,000 each year in mid-November. The name comes from the fact that part of it is in Jasper county and part of it is in Pulaski county. A small portion of it is in Starke county - I don't know why they don't get any credit.

Fishing & Hunting

The state began acquiring land at Jasper-Pulaski in 1929. In the 1930s it became a game farm & game preserve. Hunting was not allowed at the property until 1958. Deer, wild turkey, waterfowl, rabbit, squirrel and quail can be found on the property. If you want to practice shooting before the hunting season begins, Jasper-Pulaski has shooting ranges that are open year-round, although closed on Mondays & Tuesdays. There are ranges for rifles, shotguns, pistols and bow & arrow.

Fishing is available at two gravel pits which have boat ramps. Only 12-volt or less electric motors are allowed on both. Fishing is also allowed on the banks of Ryan Ditch. This area of Indiana was originally very marshy. In order to farm this area, it was necessary to create very deep ditches to drain the farmland. Ryan Ditch is one of many that were dug.

Sandhill Cranes

Jasper-Pulaski is the scene of what is possibly the greatest spectacle of nature in Indiana. Each fall thousands of sandhill cranes use this spot as a stopover point in their southward migration. While at the wildlife area the sandhill cranes leave during the day and feed on waste grains in farm fields that have been harvested. Late in the day they return to Jasper-Pulaski. The best time to watch the cranes is from about an hour before dusk until dusk. If you go on peak days, there will be over one hundred birds visible in the air at all times for that hour before sunset. The best place to watch them is at the observation tower. It is not far from the parking lot near the property headquarters. Just park your car in the parking lot and head towards the noise. it's less than a half-mile walk to the observation tower, which can accommodate a substantial number of people.

The number of cranes used to peak in late October, but they now peak in mid-November. The number of cranes passing through Jasper-Pulaski in the fall has been increasing since around 1950. Cranes also pass through Jasper-Pulaski during the spring, but in far lower numbers. Most of the sandhill cranes breed in Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Canada. Breeding sandhill cranes disappeared from Indiana after 1929, and no nesting pairs were seen again until 1982.

Sandhill cranes coming in for a landing at Jasper-Pulaski.
Sandhill cranes coming in for a landing at Jasper-Pulaski.
Cranes on the ground at Jasper-Pulaski
Cranes on the ground at Jasper-Pulaski
Source
Historical maximum fall sandhill crane counts
Historical maximum fall sandhill crane counts

Nearby Towns

Jasper-Pulaski Fish & Wildlife Area is located in a region with a pretty low population density. The closest town is Medaryville, which is just south on U.S. 421. Medaryville's population is just over 600. North of Jasper-Pulaski on U.S. 421 is San Pierre, with about 150 people. To the west is the town of Wheatfield, with around 850 inhabitants.

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