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

November 2009 Archives

Not that the muskie world ever needs agitating, but the World Record Muskie Alliance is stirring the pot again, releasing a major study this week debunking the record muskie claim of the late Cal Johnson.

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Bill Cantrall photographed this buck in Cook County near Westchester on Nov. 20 and earned Buck of the Week: Unplugged honors.

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My neighbor and I try to sneak in at least one or two mornings or evenings each year for rabbit hunting

rabbits11-27-09normbrush

I love the tradition of a Thanksgiving hunt.

DesPlaines11-26-09joephiltomfredox

Handlining: Handed down

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SPRING VALLEY, Ill.--John ``Rocky'' Mannerino gave me my first taste of handlining earlier this month.

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Ballot-box stuffing, a counple gatherings, perch from boat and shore, Thanksgiving hunts and sandhill cranes highlight this Wild Weekend Wanderings around Chicago outdoors.

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Oh, there are options this weekend.

DesPlaines11-26-09philtomfredo

Just in time for that post- or pre-Thanksgiving feast walk or outdoor outing, sandhill cranes are peaking at Jasper-Pulaski FWA southeast of Valparaiso, Ind.

It's no secret, the monster school of jumbo perch in deep water off Gary Light leads the Midwest Fishing Report.

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Chicagoan David Kolecke shot the buck of his life in Illinois' first firearm deer season near Stockton, and his son Jason nominated him for a worthy Buck of the Week.

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Brad Wooten made the most of Veteran's Day, taking his 9-year-old son, Elijah Wooten, and 10 year-old nephew, Ryan Wooten, fishing at Starved Rock. They came back with a worthy Fish of the Week.

FOTW11-25-09

Gary Cichy, 52, died when a car hit the machine he was working for NICOR and it fell on him Monday. The Hinckley man was one of the greatest fish carvers.

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As expected, the IDNR reported a low harvest for the first firearm deer season, which ended Sunday. The 66,126 is even below the 71,894 taken in first season in 2008.

This is the first time I've been sunburned in 40 years of deer hunting, But there are plenty of stories from Illinois' first firearm deer season, which ended Sunday, to lead this week's Illinois Hunting Report.

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Jeff Knor found a woolly bear. And snow showers are forecast later this week.

This is not the woolly bear he found, but an example of what they look like.

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Ed Pasiewicz photographed this buck at Illinois Beach State Park on Nov. 11 and earns Buck of the Week: Unplugged honors.

BOTWUnplugged11-22-09

I always enjoy reading the updates on Wisconsin's nine-day gun deer season, which drew 626,404 hunters afield by opening day on Saturday.

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If anybody knows the young man who caught the apparent Indiana record yellow perch in the flotilla today off Gary Light, please have him get it weighed on a certified scale or have it properly wrapped in wet towels before freezing tonight.

``I heard a lot of talk of corn.''

treestand11-20-09seaofcorn

Opening of firearm deer season on Friday and the good bite for jumbo perch off Gary Light lead this Wild Weekend Wanderings around Chicago outdoors.

perch11-13-09starcevich

Not that holiday, but a holiday just the same. Firearm deer season opens tomorrow morning in Illinois.

treestand11-22-09viewx

Not sure all hunters in Michigan for firearm deer season, which opened Sunday, would want to hear this description of the first few days from the Michigan DNR, but here it is: ``Good weather -- a lack of snow and little rain, warm temperatures and generally light winds - created excellent conditions for sitting outdoors.'' Bagging deer in those conditions have been fairly typical.

``Pops, kids today can handle adrenaline, they're all video gamers.''

treestand11-18-09

It's a good time of year to think of the future, because, frankly, there isn't a whole lot of fishing going on (other than stateline boat fishing for perch) for the Midwest Fishing Report.

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With patience, Jim Lenc of LaGrange brought home a fine 10-pointer after bowhunting in Woodford County on Friday morning. It earns him Buck of the Week honors.

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Ray Hinton began one of Chicago's historic fishing streaks with a lake trout, weighing 17 pounds, 6 ounces on a Rapala hand-held scales, on Oct. 30. That historic streak earns him and friends a special Fishes of the Week.

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Of course opening of the first firearm deer season leads this week's Illinois Hunting Report. With a side nod to the fact crop harvest remains very slow and is impacting nearly all hunting.

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Some things in life just make me smile, even when they're pissing me off. One of those times is when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers asks for public comment on an Environmental Assessment of proposed emergency measures (read poisoning the fish in the area) associated with the maintenance of the electric fish barrier in the Sanitary and Ship Canal.

Those who fished muskie on Indiana's fabled Webster Lake may remember Mark Meritt as an early guide. On Sunday, Mr. Meritt, 39, died in Minnesota.

The walleye stocking on the Indiana side of Wolf Lake is one of the great private citizen efforts in Chicago outdoors. On Saturday, the 12th annual stocking took place with 4,200 walleye of 5-8 inches placed in Wolf Lake.

wolflakewalleye11-14-09-2

I have the 10 winners of a free entrance to the seminar/fundraiser for the South Side Muskie Hawks the Sunday after Thanksgiving, an offer John Daley has extended the past few years to those who answer a question I decide on.

Weather and standing corn are assumed to be the reasons that the pace of harvest by Illinois bowhunters continues to drop off the record one it was on in October. Through Sunday, bow harvest of deer in Illinois was 49,546, off the pace of the three-year period of 2005-07.

SPRING VALLEY, Ill.--John Mannerino quit tournament fishing. So he has some time on his hands.

mannerino11-15-09walleye18-5

Subtle things can make a difference in taking photos of a trophy buck.

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Buck of the Week: Unplugged

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We're streching the definition of Buck of the Week: Unplugged, but avid bowhunter Dave Olzeski earns this week's with a bunch of photos taken in northern Illinois on Nov. 6.

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On Veteran's Day, the kids had the day off and were helping me putter in the yard, when the unmistakeable croaking of sandhill cranes came overhead. It was a teachable moment for them. And a reminder for me.


Here's the bizarre word from multiple agencies on the closing of the Sanitary and Ship Canal on Dec. 2 to allow maintenance of the electric barrier, which will require ``a fish toxicant called rotenone will be applied to the canal between the barrier and the Lockport Lock and Dam.''

Perch fishing, Chicago nature photography, deer hunting, Shabbona lake seminars, late fall river fishing and sandhill cranes in Indiana, heck we're all over the map for this Wild Weekend Wanderings around Chicago outdoors. Oh, and dare I say it, an ice-fishing presentation.

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Oak Lawn Community High School fishing team has a good idea for other high school fishing teams or clubs in Illinois: a quality newsletter put together by the students.

Once again John Daley has offered free entry to 10 people to the seminar/fundraiser for the South Side Muskie Hawks the Sunday after Thanksgiving . . . free, if they answer a question from me.

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Every once in awhile, I meet a kid who gives me reassurance that hunting may have a future.

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Karen Sass' 30-inch walleye, caught from the Kankakee River on Saturday, is a good reminder of the quality of fall fishing available on Chicago-area rivers and, along with shoreline perch, leads this Midwest Fishing Report.

perch11-05-09netendingx

Cliff Kowalczyk earns Buck of the Week honors for this fine Will County buck.

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Mike Wagner earns Fish of the Week honors with another monster largemouth from Delavan Lake in southern Wisconsin.

FOTW11-11-09delavan

I don't know what to make of the status of the rut in Illinois, particularly northern counties. Ramblings about the rut and halleluiahs about crop harvest lead this week's Illinois Hunting Report.

pheasant11-07-09dawnprep

I had hoped for more than the 226 entries for bass fishing with the llinois High School Association for the 2010 championship.

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The change is coming with buck deer in Illinois. Last week, the percent of bucks taken by bowhunters jumped to 62.7 percent. And harvest shot up dramatically to 37,380 for the season, but that is well off the pace of 2005 and '06.

This is one for some thought: Are bowhunters becoming better shots or are wild turkeys overrunning the fields and woods of Illinois. Through Sunday, harvest of wild turkeys by bowhunters was 556, up more than 22.9 percent from the four-year average.

Apparently, pudelpointers have been around since the 1800s. But Saturday was my first meeting one.


This summer Michael Neu had some big bucks show up to steal squirrel food in Oak Forest. And one of them earns BOTW: Unplugged honors.

BOTWUnplugged

CLARENCE, Ill.--The most important image from opening day for upland game seasons in Illinois may have been the one I snapped in Iroquois County on my way home this evening.

combine11-07-09

One of my pet peeves in hunting is the downward spiral in rabbit hunting.

rabbits11-06-07johnwilkes

Steve Sarley returns with his Outdoor Experience radion show beginning Sunday for a ``soft opening.'' The ``grand opening'' will be on Nov. 15.

It was one of those days, where the cooler filled with perch--limits of them.

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About time: SB1846

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Senate Bill 1846 passed on Friday during the veto session of the Illinois General Assembly. Gov. Quinn is expected to sign the bill, which makes small increases in licenses and other fees. Many of the fee hikes should have happened years ago and/or been much higher this time.

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Hunter effort and success during the nine-day fall firearm season for wild turkeys in Illinois keeps sliding. The 2009 season, which ended Sunday, had a preliminary harvest of only 756 turkeys, less than half of harvest only nine years ago.

turkeys4-9-09town

The first call came Sunday afternoon after the Bears game while I was hiking with the family--a guy just raving about the yellow perch caught out of East Chicago (Ind.) Marina. Two days later, Minocqua (Wisc.) guide Kurt Justice slipped this in: ``Will keep tabs on water temps for first ice anglers.'' Late fall patterns lead the Midwest Fishing Report this week.

Wally Neumann bagged his third book buck in the rain, and this 10-pointer taken Oct. 15 earns Buck of the Week honors.

BOTW11-04-09x

Sometimes, one fish is enough, especially when it is not only a worthy Fish of the Week, but what a reader once called a FOAL, or Fish of a Lifetime. Jim Karp caught one of those.

FOTW11-04-09

Opening day for the upland game seasons and near-record slow crop harvest leads this week's Illinois Hunting Report.

pheasants11-1-08dakotadixiekylex

As befits the arrival of the rut, for the first time this year, bucks have surpassed does by harvest ratio in the weekly harvest report for Illinois bowhunters. Through Sunday, bowhunters harvested 27,676 deer. The only year higher for the same period was 2006 with 27,949.

Six Illinois State Police ranges will be open on Nov. 14 for deer hunters to sight in their shotguns. Only Joliet in the Chicago area will offer the service.

Bill Peak earns the first Buck of the Week: Unplugged honors with this beauty at Hegewisch Marsh.

BOTWmarsh

Time change messes with me.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from November 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

October 2009 is the previous archive.

December 2009 is the next archive.

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