Opening of upland game hunting leads this Wild Weekend Wandering around Chicago outdoors; though bowhunting might draw just as many outside, and the forecast seasonal fall weather might draw many fishermen for a last fall fling.
UPLAND HUNTING: Hunting for cock pheasants, rabbits, bobwhite quail and gray partridge opens Saturday in Illinois. Hunting for rabbits, quail and pheasants opens today in Indiana. Click here for the annual prospects put out by the Illinois DNR. Generally, the report looks about average, except for quail, which the winter appeared to hurt more than the other species.
If you have permission to hunt quality private land, the prospects are good. I will be hunting with the group associated around the Pioneer chapter of Pheasants Forever in Iroquois/Ford Counties. It is a sort of last fling.
Other than it being a bit warm for hard hunting, I am really looking forward to it.
BOWHUNTING: This should be the weekend for big bucks by bowhunters. Bucks are moving, and hunters are taking advantage. Just as an aside, if, like me, you do a lot of driving around areas with deer, stay alert for the next few weeks. This is an exciting time. Because of the weather change, several bowhunters I talked with over the last two days think today will be the big day.
MUSKIE FISHING: There's stories of big fish being caught, including the 50.75-inch muskie caught on the Chain by Ryan Stochl. My fishing friend, guide Pete Riedesel, has been on some good muskie at a couple lakes and tried to entice me on a trip, but I am focused on hunting this weekend. Reports from northern Wisconsin also indicate the typical good movement of big muskie. My fall muskie trip will be next weekend.
CRAPPIE FISHING: The weather looks nice enough that I suspect that many fishermen will be out for crappie. The action has been picking up at the usual spots like Busse, Fermi Labs, Saganashkee Slough and Monee Reservoir, according to Steve Palmisano at Henry's.
WALLEYE STOCKING: One of the neater citizen efforts continues Saturday when some 6,000 walleye will be stocked on the Indiana side of Wolf Lake. Bruce Caruso is the driving force behind the effort which uses donations from businesses and donation jars at bait shops. If you need time and details to help or watch, post a note here or drop me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will try to see how close they have the time narrowed down.
INDIANA STREAMS FOR SALMON/TROUT: There's primarily skamania in the Indiana streams with some leftover salmon. Lake Michigan fisheries biologist Brian Breidert expects the Michigan strain steelhead to arrive later this month. For those without a lot of experience on the Indiana streams, click here for access points on Salt, Trail and the Little Cal.
INDIANA FISHING SEMINARS: On Saturday, Mik-Lurch Fishing Tackle Outlet in Hammond--(219) 989-0575--holds a pair of apt seminars. At 1 p.m., Glen Gajewski and Mark Radvonausky will lead a seminar on the creeks, including access points. At 3 p.m., Mike Starcevich and Ed McCain do a repeat of their seminar on deep-water perch in southern Lake Michigan, including way points.
TURKEY SHOOT: The Northern Illinois Conservation Club in Antioch holds a turkey shoot from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday. It's $10 for each round (25 shots). Click here.
SANDHILL CRANES: The count of sandhill cranes at Jasper-Pulaski FWA near Medaryville, Ind. on Tuesday was 7,762. That's the range counts have been in for nearly a month. Looking at the forecasts, I suspect it will be at least a couple weeks before the peak counts come. This might be a year to plan a Thanksgiving week excursion.
If you have never gone to the site southeast of Valparaiso, Ind., I highly recommend a fall trip. The sight and sounds of the cranes is something to behold. Best viewing is sunrise or sunset at Goose Pasture Viewing Area. But I find it worth touring the area to watch the sandhills in the surrounding fields, too. Click here to see, listen and learn details of the site.
SANDHILLS AND PADDLING: Speaking of sandhills, Chicago River Canoe & Kayak holds its last scheduled Crane Viewing Trips to English Lake, Ind., on Sunday. Make reservations at (773) 704-2663 or e-mail email@example.com.
ST. JOSEPH RIVER: The run is winding down, but steelhead are still moving through. Best for steelhead has been below the Twin Branch and Mishawaka Dams in Mishawaka. Click here for the updated Indiana DNR report on the St. Joe. It hasn't been updated since last week. . . . Earlier in the week, Tyler Harmon messaged that steelhead are in the usual spots on the Michigan side.
WATERFOWL HUNTING: Not sure if the front and wind yesterday will be enough to move many birds, though it should help field hunting for Canada geese. Otherwise, duck hunting has been on the slow side. REMINDER: The first Canada goose season ends Sunday in the central zone, an especially important reminder for those who hunt that triangle between I-80 and the duck zone line in Grundy, Cook and Will counties.
HUNTING BITS: Dove season reopens on Saturday in Illinois, too.
ILLINOIS PERMITS/SEASONS: Applications are open online for late-winter deer special hunt area permits and for spring turkey permits.
SALMON SNAGGING: Snagging for chinook and coho is open on the Illinois lakefront at four locations only: Lincoln Park Lagoon south of Fullerton Avenue, Waukegan Harbor (North Harbor Basin only); Winnetka Power Plant discharge area and Jackson Park Harbor (inner and outer harbors). No snagging is allowed at any time within 200 feet of a moored watercraft or as posted.
ARCHERY: Archery Bow Range Chicago offers instruction.
PERSONAL PICKS: Kids are off today, so our family hike will be moved up a day. Might try a new one on them. . . . My weekend will be pheasant hunting Downstate. . . . I need to get things set up this week for firearm deer season. . . . Work continues on an ongoing writing project. . . . Other than pulling together a highlight show, I am caught up on "Outside", the radio show airing at 4:30 p.m. on Mondays and repeating at 12:30 p.m. Sundays on WKCC-FM (91.1).