Chicago Sun-Times
Stray Casts will intelligently report and observe, hopefully with a touch of wit, on daily occurrences, reports and releases related to Chicago-area outdoors from bucks to bass to birds to bugs

Chicago WWW: Emiquon to shells to kings

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It's a packed weekend for Chicago Wild Weekend Wanderings, everything from gearing up for the start of hunting on Tuesday to the start of a hawk watch for a 10th straight year to the Michigan City boat show to a special day to explore Emiquon Preserve (below)


EXPERIENCING EMIQUON: A friend who is doing a getaway weekend in central Illinois asked if it is worth making a side trip to this ``Anakin or Amishman.'' I scratched my head for a second, then busted his chops and said, ``Emiquon?''

Very emphatically, the answer is yes. Thompson Lake Festival is a good chance to experience Emiquon Preserve near Lewistown from 8 a.m.-noon Saturday. There's a rare chance to fish from shore, and free rides on a replica voyageur canoe, bird-watching and science presentations there and at Dickson Mounds Museum. I highly recommend it. Emiquon is one of the truly special restoration spots in Illinois. Call (309) 547-2730 or (309) 547-3721.


MICHIGAN CITY IN-WATER BOAT SHOW: Everything from Twiggy the water-skiing squirrel to Thom Shepard and Steve Williams performing ``Redneck Yacht Club'' to the big yachts and little boats highlight the boat show in northwest Indiana.


July 22, 2009 - MICHIGAN CITY, Ind. -
In 1980, the Blues Brothers were making a mess of Chicago on big screens across the nation, Stan Mikita played his final game in a Blackhawks uniform and the Michigan City In-Water Boat Show was held for the first time. This year, for the 30th consecutive summer, the event will host visitors from across the region when it drops anchor Aug. 27-30 in Washington Park (200 Heisman Harbor Rd.).

"The show has endured through good times and bad, wind storms and brutal heat," said Show Manager Ken Alvey, "and will still be here 30 years from now because of the tremendous support it gets from the community, port authority and local volunteers."


* More than 100 boats will be displayed in the water on floating docks and booths on land will be stocked with all the newest electronics and marine accessories.

* Twiggy the Water Skiing Squirrel will be on hand to entertain visitors each day and all LaPorte County, Indiana, residents will be admitted for free on opening day.

* On Thursday and Friday, Thom Shepard and Steve Williams, co-writers of the country song "Redneck Yacht Club," will be visiting and performing at the Splendor Boats display.

* Those looking to catch up with old friends (or meet new ones) should head to the Party Barge, an always-popular floating bar with drinks and music.

* The Brokerage Pier, a hotspot of buying activity in recent years, will include a selection of pre-owned boats for the first-time buyer or seasoned skipper looking to upgrade.

"The show is one of the oldest and biggest on the entire Great Lakes," said Alvey. "It's perfect for boaters to shop because everything, from personal watercraft to million-dollar yachts, is displayed at one place. The boats this year will all be open for boarding and the prices are going to be very enticing."

The Michigan City In-Water Boat Show is sponsored by Allstate, the Blue Chip Casino Hotel and Miller Lite and will be open noon - 8 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, 10 a.m. - 8 p.m. on Saturday, and 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. on Sunday.

Admission is $10 for adults, children 12 and under get in free. For more information, visit

SHORELINE KINGS: They're coming, but its been in fits and spurts. The most consistent action I have been able to piece together from reports seems to be at Kenosha, Wis., where there's kings at the mouth of the Pike and browns inside the harbor. The number for Harborside Bait and Tackle is (262) 605-9001. But I have not sure what the rains will do to the flow on the Pike, or the Root in Racine, if anything.

HUNTING OPENER: Tuesday is the unofficial start to hunting in Illinois with both dove and early Canada goose season opening. From talking with state waterfowl biologist Ray Marshalla, there may be a reason for my having a tough time taking photos of doves on wires, reproduction has apparently been down.

On the other hand, Canada goose production in the northeast and west central Illinois, well just make that overall in the central and north has been good.

I will try to pull some of that together later today.

HAWK WATCH: The 10th consecutive year of the Illinois Beach State Park Hawk Watch begins on Saturday. It runs through Nov. 29. Regular hours are 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. This is one of those things I have meant to do for years. Maybe this fall. Go to

PERMIT REMINDER: I finally sent in my application for free upland game sites. But my luck has not been good over the years. I teamed with a friend and I am hoping he lucks into one. The last day to apply is Monday. Go to


MIDEWIN PHOTO TOUR, 9 a.m.: Whether you're an amateur or professional photographer, use film or prefer digital, bring your camera and capture images of some of the features that make Midewin so unique. From pioneer cemeteries to bunkers and prairie flowers this tour has something to offer everyone. Participants will drive their own vehicles in a guided auto caravan.

TWILIGHT BIKE RIDE, 6 p.m.: Explore Midewin at dusk by bike as you ride a 10-mile loop on paved and gravel surfaces. Participants must provide and transport their own bicycle. "Fat tires" are recommended.

Participants should arrive for their tour 15 minutes early to ensure they don't miss the departure of the group. Come dressed for the weather, wearing shoes suitable for walking over easy to moderately uneven ground. Bring water, sun protection, and insect repellant. Cameras and binoculars are encouraged.

To reserve space on a tour, leave a message at (815) 423-2170 or email Please leave contact info in case we need to contact you about cancellations or changes to the tour schedule. There is no charge for Midewin tours this year. More information about tours and other public programs at Midewin is available at (815) 423-6370 or

YOUTH REMINDER: Tuesday is the deadline for Youth Ambassadors (10-17 are eligible) for Illinois Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever
.Springfield, Ill. - July 15, 2009 - Illinois Pheasants Forever (PF) and Quail Forever (QF) are looking for interested youth to participate in the first-ever Illinois PF/QF Youth Leadership Council. Twelve youth (ages 10-17) with an interest in hunting, fishing and the outdoors will be selected to serve as youth ambassadors on a variety of conservation issues.

The 12-member Illinois PF/QF Youth Leadership Council will be modeled after the PF/QF National Youth Leadership Council, a 20-member group of youth from around the country who are spokespersons for their age group on hunting and conservation issues and advise PF/QF on youth programs. Youth selected to the Illinois PF/QF Youth Leadership Council will receive leadership and communications training to help them serve as liaisons with not only other youth groups (4-H, National FFA Organization), but with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and elected officials.

"Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever have made a commitment to the next generation of conservationists through its No Child Left Indoors® initiative, and the creation of an all-Illinois youth leadership council will reinforce that commitment in this state," said Aaron Kuehl, Illinois PF/QF Director of Conservation Programs, "The creation of this council also dovetails perfectly with the Department of Natural Resources' identified focus of youth hunter/angler recruitment."

Youth ages 10-17 are eligible to serve on the Illinois PF/QF Youth Leadership Council, and interested youth must complete an application to be considered. A downloadable application form is available here. Applications are due by September 1, 2009. Twelve youth will then be selected based on their applications (consideration also being given to representing the state geographically, as well as representing ages). Applicants will be notified of their selection to the council by October 1, 2009.

Illinois is home to 46 Pheasants Forever chapters, 13 Quail Forever chapters and 9,000 PF/QF members. For more information about PF/QF in Illinois, visit or contact Aaron Kuehl, Illinois PF/QF Director of Conservation Programs at (217) 635-5207 or via email at

BULLFROGS: Monday is the end of bullfrog season in Illinois. And another year has passed me by.

PERSONAL PICKS: I am covering the Chicago Triathlon for the Sun-Times and will not have Sunday open. Not sure I will be getting much more done than gearing up for the dove opener on Tuesday. I have to admit I enjoy going through the store and sorting through boxes of shells. That's part of the excitement of hunting that fishing in Illinois really doesn't have. There is a definite start date..

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This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on August 28, 2009 6:47 AM.

Of nighthawks, baseball and summer's end was the previous entry in this blog.

Big fall kings: Cautious in Illinois is the next entry in this blog.

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