More typical fall doings and changes lead this Wild Weekend Wandering around Chicago outdoors.
Big bucks roaming and ducks (and geese) flying are the top story. For me, the big fall doing is taking cover in a blind for the opening of central zone waterfowl on Saturday.
WATERFOWL HUNTING: Fresh birds have arrived, and I would expect even more to come in today, in both the north and central zones of Illinois. We needed this weather change. Especially Canada geese were wising up to hunters and blinds in the north zone.
With waterfowl hunting opening Saturday in the central zone, yesterday, I did a visual survey of our blind at Kankakee River SP to make sure everything survived the big blow. There were a handful of geese, as every other time, floating on the main part of the river. As I left, another flock of 15 flew overhead.
I look forward to tomorrow morning.
BOWHUNTING DEER The rut is just beginning. This should be the biggest weekend of the year so far, especially for bucks, who are beginning to move around with the unconcern that comes with the rut.
As of early this morning, the bowhunting totals since Oct. 1 were 19,542. Click here if you're interested in keeping tabs on the running deer totals in Illinois.
FALL COLOR: I took a trip far Downstate on Sunday and color is past peak virtually south past I-70. Yet, in trees that held their leaves through the big blow, there is some vivid colors in spots around Chicago. Yesterday, I found one street with some bare trees next to a brilliant red maple and a vivid orange oak. It was quite beautiful.
Click here for the update from the Morton Arboretum in Lisle.
Another option is our nearby National Park, the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, accessible by car or South Shore train. Click here for info on IDNL.
In Wisconsin, color is past peak.
WADING: The rivers are so low that those paddling or boating need to be aware. But that kind of fall lowness can be advantageous for fall waders, as long as you are conscious of sun direction and your silhouette, so you don't spook fish.
And be aware that waterfowl hunting opens in the central zone on Saturday, meaning duck and goose hunters will be out across the entire Chicago area, especially this weekend with some fresh birds having arrived.
Click here to check the status of rives around Chicago.
SHORELINE SALMON/TROUT: In Chicago fishing, there's still plenty of salmon in the harbors. However, they are getting dark and scruffy. We are in the doldrums waiting on perch fishing to kick in again or the first ice fishing to start.
MUSKIE MEETING: PMTT Top Gun and Lake Kinkaid guide Scott Donovan speaks at the Midwest Musky Club at The Village Sportsman's Club in Alsip at 7:30 p.m. Thursday. Go to midwestmuskyclub.com.
ILLINOIS HUNTING: Sunday is the final day for the first dove season, and for firearm fall turkey hunting.
CRANE WATCHING: The sandhill cranes are starting to arrive at Jasper-Pulaski FWA southeast of Valparaiso, Ind. Click here for info and updates. There was more than 7,000 sandhills there at the last count more than a week ago. I suspect the weather has made an update tough this week. Maybe later today another update will be posted.
PADDLING: Chicago River Canoe and Kayak offers another weekend of Kankakee River Paddle & Crane Viewing in northwest Indiana on both Saturday and Sunday. Paddling begins about mid-day, then the crane viewing at Jasper-Pulaski FWA just before dusk. Make reservations for Saturday or Sunday at (773) 704-2663 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
FIREARM DEER PERMITS: Remaining resident and non-resident firearm and muzzleloader deer permits are available over-the-counter from IDNR license vendors on a first-come, first-served basis, until quotas are exhausted or the close of the firearm deer season. LATE-WINTER HUNT: Hunters may apply online (dnr.illinois.gov) for site-specific permits for designated IDNR special hunt areas for the late-winter firearm deer hunt.
HAWK WATCH: The weather change should bring more hawks.
The Illinois Beach State Park Hawk Watch runs through Nov. 28. At least one counter/observer is there from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. daily (weather permitting). Click here for details.
SALMON SNAGGING: There's still some silver fish around for snaggers. Open spots on the Illinois lakefront are the inner and outer harbors at Jackson Park, Lincoln Park Lagoon from the Fullerton Avenue Bridge to the southern end of the Lagoon, Winnetka power plant discharge area and Waukegan Harbor (in North Harbor basin only). No snagging is allowed at any time within 200 feet of a moored watercraft or as posted. Salmon snagging season ends Dec. 31.
ARCHERY: Archery Bow Range Chicago offers beginner courses and much more regularly. Click here.
PERSONAL PICKS: Yesterday, I checked out my blind and can't wait for tomorrow morning. That's my weekend, waterfowl hunting in the mornings. . . . Otherwise, the kids have much of the weekend locked down for their favorite or second favorite holiday of Halloween. . . . And I hope to sit in my deer stand just to get a feel for the deer moving.