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Austin Bottoms Conservation Area is co-managed by Crosley Fish & Wildlife Area (812) 346-5596 and Hardy Lake (812) 794-3800. Crosley office hours are Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Hardy lake office hours are Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The area spans more than 26,000 acres along the Muscatatuck River. It is bounded by the intersection of the Muscatatuck with Interstate 65 and State Road 31 on the east side and flows westward to Jackson-Washington State Forest on the west side. The area stretches across Scott, Jackson and Washington counties.
Approximately 2,355 acres are now open for use. It consists of a variety of habitat types, dominated by bottomland forests and wetlands. The bottomland forest consists of species such as maples, oaks, sweetgum, river birch, sycamore and beech. Many birds use bottomland hardwood forests, such as wild turkey, yellow- and black-crowned night herons, wood ducks, red-headed woodpeckers, screech owls, great horned owls, bald eagles, broad-winged hawks, woodcock, wood thrush, hooded warblers, Kentucky warblers, blue jays and cardinals. These bottomland hardwoods also provide excellent habitat for many mammals, such as white-tailed deer, bobcat, raccoon, skunk, fox, beaver, otter, mink, opossum, gray squirrel, fox squirrel and flying squirrel.
Sage’s Ferry Public Access Site is on the Muscatatuck River off of S.R. 39.
Shoreline fishing is allowed.
All size and bag limits apply.
The area is mainly bottomland hardwoods interspersed with wetlands. Hunting is available for deer, turkey, squirrel and waterfowl. Furbearers are also abundant throughout the area. Limited opportunities are available for rabbit, quail and woodcock.
Tree stands are allowed to be up overnight between Sept. 1 and Jan. 10.
There are no draws for reserved hunting.
There is no draw for trapping.
No check-in is required to hunt or fish on the area.
Youth can hunt during the special youth seasons throughout the year.
All hunting seasons and bag limits apply.
Portions of Austin Bottoms Conservation Area do allow the use of bonus antlerless licenses. See map for specific locations.
The area is a great place to view a wide variety of birds and waterfowl. River otters, beavers, deer and other mammals are also common.
No office sign-in is required to scout, fish, hike or wildlife watch.
Gathering berries, nuts, and mushrooms is allowed. Spring mushroom hunting is restricted to after noon during the spring turkey season.
There is no shooting range.
NO Camping and NO Swimming Allowed.
Please Read and Obey All Signs.
In addition to state and wildlife laws, this property is governed by posted regulations affecting the public use of lands and facilities owned, leased or licensed by the Department of Natural Resources.
Safety zones, refuges, waterfowl resting areas and other restricted areas are marked with appropriate signs.
Violation of any law, rule or regulation governing this property may be cause for forfeiting your hunting, fishing or visiting privileges on this area.
The DNR will not be held responsible for any accidents or deaths occurring from the use of these facilities.
A hunting and/or fishing license is required to hunt or fish on the property. Collecting permits are required for the collection of anything except nuts, berries and mushrooms.
Please be courteous to neighboring landowners. Watch for the property boundary and safety zone signs. Stay inside boundaries. Do not trespass on private property.
Traffic on public roads throughout the area is governed by state and county laws. No motorized vehicles, horses or bicycles are permitted beyond county roads. Traffic over service roads and trails, except by authorized vehicles, is restricted to walking. Parking is in designated lots only.
Target shooting is prohibited