The election, upland hunting openers and the debut of ``Everglades of the North'' lead this Wild Weekend Wandering around Chicago outdoors.
What we do inside on Tuesday with the election will determine what happens outside I fear. What happens in conservation depends on big government involvement and the rhetoric about big government has been vitriolic this election. Without big government involvement, we would not have the improbable scene above of people fishing on the North Branch of the Chicago River. And there a a multitude of other examples of the importance of big government in modern conservation.
UPLAND HUNTING: Hunting for pheasants, rabbits, quail and gray partridge opens Saturday. The best news is that the corn harvest across the prime area in central Illinois is nearly complete, and other areas are well along. The second best news is that the Drought of 2012 did not appear to adversely impact populations.
The problem is finding land to hunt.
``EVERGLADES OF THE NORTH'' DEBUT: `Everglades of the North: The Story of the Grand Kankakee Marsh'' debuts at 8 p.m. Monday on WYIN (Merrillville). On my Comcast cable system, I think it is 20. Most of the Chicago area gets WYIN. I have been waiting for this to finally reach the public for years. It is exciting and I am glad the Bears are not doing a Monday night game and that the election is the following night.
WATCHING SANDHILL CRANES: I did not see an updated count for sandhill cranes (I suspect the winds early this week made it tough) at Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area, but there should be more than 10,000 sandhills there by now. 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.
I realize this is a bit of trek, so take some time to explore Valparaiso, just a wonderful town, or do a leisurely drive on back roads through the Indiana countryside.
NORTH AND CENTRAL ZONE WATERFOWL HUNTING: Some fresh birds arrived by mid-week with the days off north winds off the back side of Sandy. And there's geese around the suburbs. I would expect at least a decent weekend.
NORTH ZONE TRAPPING: Now I realize that probably no more than a handful of readers at most trap, but on Monday there's a bit of history to be made in Illinois. When trapping for furbearers--raccoon, opossum, skunk, weasel, mink, fox (red and gray), coyote, beaver--opens Monday in Illinois' north zone, it will also open for trapping river otter for the first time since 1929. That is quite a testament to the restocking effort the IDNR began in the mid-1990s.
CRAPPIE FISHING: With the cooling waters, crappie fishing is picking up all over. It's the top inland fishing.
BOWHUNTING: Either this weekend or next should be the peak for hunters as the big bucks are losing their native caution and good sense in the throes of the rut.
BUCK OF THE WEEK: With the rut underway, I expect to see for Buck of the Week, the celebration of big bucks around Chicago outdoors Wednesdays on the Sun-Times outdoors page. Send nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org.
INDIANA STREAMS: Lake Michigan fisheries biologist Brian Breidert said coho continue to come into Trail Creek and some fresh steelhead came in, too.
Click here for the Indiana DNR's map of Trail Creek access.
LAKERS AT THE PORT? I have not heard yet if fishermen expect this to rebound or come back after the historic blow a couple days ago. Or if it is blown out for this fall.
PERCH FISHING: Wishin' and hopin'. Fear is the historic blow may have blown out what is usually a couple weeks of good fishing for boaters on the Indiana side. We shall see.
OTHER HUNTING: White-fronted geese open Monday in Illinois' north zone. . . . Some woodcocks are around. . . . Second dove season opens Saturday. . . . Rail season is open. I know nobody who hunts them and don't know if they are around.
ILLINOIS DEER PERMITS: Over-the-counter sales of remaining county deer permits is underway at IDNR vendors. I need to do this.
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: Today I think I am going to play around with Todd Carlander and an AquaVu looking underwater at a lake. . . . I hope to at least get in a couple hours of trying to kick out a rabbit Saturday. . . . But the family hike will also probably be Saturday. . . . Our Sunday will disappear as my wife and I go to the closing of ``The Art of the Porter Family'' at Paul Henry's Art Gallery in Hammond, then do a special premier reception for ``Everglades of the North.'' . . . 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.