Decisions, decisions, decisions--bucks, stars, perch, sandhills or a world-champion fundraiser--abound in this Wild Weekend Wandering around Chicago outdoors.
Deer are the top story, but there are options.
And this morning was a perfect example.
Deer hunting looked like a better idea when we watched four deer wade toward us in our duck blind. The only ducks we saw were a few high-flying mallards headed somewhere distant.
BOWHUNTING DEER The rut is underway. Traditionally, this is the second biggest weekend of the year for bowhunters. I fully expect that to hold. Photos and stories of big boys falling are coming in.
As of mid-morning Friday, the bowhunting totals since Oct. 1 have really taken off and stand at 42,307. Click here if you're interested in keeping tabs on the running deer totals in Illinois.
ICE FISHING FUNDRAISER: On Saturday, Tony Boshold is holding a fundraiser to raise money to compete in 2011 World Ice Fishing Championships in the Ukraine. It will be 11 a.m.-5 p.m. at Moretti's Ristorante & Pizzeria in Bartlett. Click here for info.
STARGAZING: The peak of the Leonids Meteor Shower is Wednesday. The Chicago Park District is holding an event at Warren Park on the North Side, beginning at 7 p.m. Call (312) 742-5039. But I would suggest a dark spot in the suburbs or beyond is even a better idea.
I am thinking of taking our church youth group out Wednesday night and forcing them to look upward. Oh, the symbolism of that.
The Wednesday count topped 10,000 (10,670) for the second straight week. The peak is near.
I highly recommend an evening or morning trip to see this. It is one of the most impressive sights around Chicago outdoors.
PERCH PICKING UP: The great wait in Chicago fishing is on. The boaters around the Indiana-Illinois stateline are starting to do better for perch at the Hole-in-the-Wall, by Gary Light and around Cal harbor. But it's still spotty. I am curious how reports look after the weekend. . . . Chicago shore fishermen have been doing fair or spottily (is that a word?). Navy Pier should bust loose soon. I can't wait.
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.
Occasional fishing companion Lee Sczepanski has been doing obscenely well for smallmouth wading around with a minnow bucket on tribs of the Kankakee in Indiana.
The Fox is the exception to the low water with a better flow because of the drawdown on the Chain, and Ken Gortowski has been picking up some quality fish when he gets out and has good ideas where to try.
And be aware that waterfowl hunting is open now in both the north and central zones in Illinois, and also in Indiana.
Click here to check the status of rives around Chicago.
WATERFOWL HUNTING: I am beginning to wonder if we will ever see fresh birds. Maybe with the weather change on Sunday will bring some fresh ones. I am not hopeful on that. . . . BTW, remember Sunday is the close of the first Canada goose season in the central zone.
ILLINOIS HUNTING NOTES: Rail hunting ends today. . . . Pheasant, quail, partridge and rabbit seasons opened Saturday. . . . Remember, the second dove season ends Sunday.
ARCHERY: Archery Bow Range Chicago offers beginner courses and much more regularly. Click here.
HAWK WATCH: We have another weather change this weekend, so it could be good. 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.
WOLF RIVER WALLEYE: If you want a drive north, the walleye bite on the Wolf River from Fremont to New London, Wis. remains strong, though weather can make it spottier. Guide Bill Stoeger thought it will hold until ice-up, which remains several weeks away.
SALMON SNAGGING: The fish are getting scruffy. 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.
PERSONAL PICKS: I was out duck hunting this morning. I will probably take my own advice and see if the weather change brings any fresh ducks Sunday morning. . . . Wednesday night I will spend at least some time trying to watch the Leonids Meteor Shower. With luck, some of my kids will want to be with me and we will actually see some. . . . The family is back on doing a weekend hike. Not sure where it will be this week yet.