Stable fall weather should help with two fall favorites--deer hunting and perch fishing on Lake Michigan--of Wild Weekend Wandering around Chicago outdoors.
FIREAM DEER HUNTING: The first firearm season for deer hunting--the biggest day in Illinois outdoors--opens today and runs through Sunday. Weather looks perfect. The season is early, which means hunters should catch a bit of the rut. I know I am excited. There is just something about putting up a deer stand for a friend earlier this week that gets the blood chomping.
I am covering a CWD check-in station this morning, then going hunting this afternoon and may check in at a deer camp tonight, if I get around in time.
Click here for a preview interview with forest wildlife program manager Paul Shelton.
PERCH FISHING: Stacey Greene at Park Bait reported perch starting to come in at Montrose on Wednesday.
Mike Starcevich at Mik-Lurch Fishing Tackle Outlet said shore fishermen started catching perch from shore at the Hole-in-the-Wall in the past week. From his boat, he got into the jumbos in the winter holes (36-37.5 feet) out of East Chicago Marina on Wednesday.
``I did not expect to do what I did when I jumped on the ramp and saw the dirty water,'' he said.
He found the best action was when the sun was ``hot, nice and bright, 11 to 2:30 was best. As [the sun got lower, it got slower.''
Key was large fatheads with orange flies with glow.
``They won't touch the baby roaches,'' Starcevich said. ``Split the belly on the fatheads to get the scent out. The guys on the Hole-in-the-Wall are stomping on [the fatheads] to get the same thing.''
UPLAND HUNTING: Hunting for pheasants, rabbits, quail and gray partridge opened last Saturday and reports have varied widely. Got my first one Wednesday night while setting up the deer stand.
BOWHUNTING: Lots of reports of big bucks running around and being taken by bowhunters. Takes a back seat during firearm season, but should be back good next week with the mellow weather.
BUCK OF THE WEEK: Good nominations are pouring in. I love it. Buck of the Week, the celebration of big bucks taken around Chicago outdoors, runs Wednesdays on the Sun-Times outdoors page. Send nominations to email@example.com.
WATCHING SANDHILL CRANES: The most sandhills (10,147) counted so far this fall were noted Tuesday at Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area. It is located southeast of Valparaiso, Ind. The best times to view them and fully grasp the wonder of them is near dawn or dusk. The next few weeks should be peak.
I realize this is a trek, so take some time to explore Valparaiso, just a wonderful town, or do a leisurely drive on back roads through the Indiana countryside.
CRAPPIE FISHING: With the cooling waters, crappie fishing is picking up all over. It's the top inland fishing and with the good forecast for this weekend, I expect it to be the top pursuit. Should hold right through the Thanksgiving holiday.
INDIANA STREAMS: Winter-run steelhead should start in earnest in the next week or so. I only wonder if the lack of rain in the forecast will stall that. One reader sent a note that his Thanksgiving tradition is fishing the Indiana creeks for him. I like that idea.
Click here for the Indiana DNR's map of Trail Creek access.
LAKERS AT THE PORT? They are still being marked, dirty water has kept the catching down.
OTHER HUNTING: Rail season closes today.
ILLINOIS DEER PERMITS: Over-the-counter sales of remaining county deer permits is underway at IDNR vendors. It's how I am hunting.
SHORELINE SALMON: It is winding down, at least around Chicago fishing, though snaggers are still getting some.
ARCHERY: Archery Bow Range Chicago offers instruction.
PERSONAL PICKS: I am heading out the door to watch the doings at a CWD check-in station for the morning and early afternoon. Then I am going hunting this afternoon for deer. . . . My wife is planning a big family hike with one of her friends who is coming in this weekend. Do not know where it will be yet. . . . The kids have been anxious to get in some last fishing on the town pond, and this might be the weekend to do it. If I get my deer today. And that is a big if. . . . I received some good suggestions for guests on my Outside radio show on WKCC-FM (91.1), but can always use more. I am enjoying pulling shows together. . . . Work nears the end on a writing project. Been saying that for too long without crossing the finish line. Actually I am beginning to feel like the finish line is running away from me.