One of our neighbors piled her young ones in the car and headed south to find a hill to sled on this week; yeah, it feels like winter is near to our north and south for this Wild Weekend Wandering around Chicago outdoors.
You could say we are between the jaws of winter; or maybe not. The YouTube video above was sledding in southern Illinois taken a day or two ago.
ICE FISHING: Let's start with ice fishing and beginning ice scenes, such as the one below from Hermann's Lowlife Bar & Grill in Port Barrington, where ice was just forming on Nielsen's Channel off the Fox River.
But tread carefully, especially those of us who live south of the city where ice remains too thin or at best too borderline.
But in northern areas, it is beginning.
Greg Dickson at Triangle said they are fishing some back channels on the Chain O'Lakes.
``Everything is progressive since we talked,'' he said. ``It is holding.''
He said others are fishing the real shallow bays on nearby lakes and in southern Wisconsin.
Marcy Paschky sent this report from Hermann's on Thursday: ``We have two and a half inches of ice. Ten cars are here, They are all fishing out in front. I think they are nuts! At your own risk, I guess. I still wouldn't call it safe.''
SLEDDING: Yeah, I know that is stretching the definition of what I do here on Fridays in WWW Chicago outdoors. But I also know that kids are off school for what seems like an eternity this and those of us who are stay-home dads or moms have about had our fill.
Some places might get that good inch of snow today and tonight to be able to slip a bit of sledding. Otherwise, drive a bit north if you live north, or drive a bit south if you live south. There's plenty of snow around us.
What you spend in gas you might save in sanity.
PADDLING: The New Year's Day Canoe Paddle down the North Branch of the Chicago River is on. Click here. It will go, only weeks after the passing of Ralph Frese, the Chicago paddling legend who founded the annual float 27 years ago.
CAMPING AND PICNICING: Camping and picnicking permits go on sale for the forest preserve districts of Cook and DuPage counties, beginning at 8 a.m. Wednesday. . . . For Cook County, picnic permits may be purchased in person at 536 N. Harlem Avenue in River Forest or online. . . . For picnic areas and family and youth-group campsites in DuPage County, there are several ways to apply. Click here for the forms.
PERCH FISHING: Plenty of smaller perch around Chicago harbors. Dirty water outside has made it tougher.
GOOSE HUNTING: In decades past, this was the week to head to southern Illinois for goose hunting. Now that has changed to suburban Chicago. And the geese are here.
DEER HUNTING: The first part of late winter antlerless and CWD deer seasons runs through Sunday. I did not draw my hoped for permit. There are still some over-the-counter permits. Another option is standby at Heidecke Lake.
INDIANA STREAMS: Some winter steelhead came in over the past week.
Click here for the Indiana DNR's map of Trail Creek access.
YOUTH TURKEY PERMITS: Youth (younger than 16 years old before turkey season) may apply now for outdoors access for youth turkey hunting in one of 23 counties. Click here.
WATCHING SANDHILL CRANES: It is past peak, but Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area, southeast of Valparaiso, Ind., was still holding 16,645 sandhill cranes in Wednesday's count.
The best times to view them and fully grasp the wonder of them is near dawn or dusk. 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. This is another weekend to do with an extra long New Year's weekend.
UPLAND HUNTING: Hunting for pheasants, rabbits, quail and gray partridge is underway. At least some places got some snow, so that might be a little better. Was out of town, so I had to pass on a chance to go Christmas Day. A little snow could really help, especially with rabbit hunting.
POWERTON SHORE FISHING: If you're itching for some cooling lake fishing, shore fishing is open 8 a.m.-4 p.m. at Powerton, just outside of Pekin.
ARCHERY: Archery Bow Range Chicago offers instruction.
BUCK OF THE WEEK: There are still BOTW nominations coming in. And I love them. BOTW, the celebration of big bucks taken around Chicago outdoors, runs Wednesdays on the Sun-Times outdoors page. Send nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org.
CHICAGO PIER PASSES: Considering the arrival of the perch bite, now is a good time for a reminder that the $6 pier passes for Chicago harbors, except 31st, are available now at Henry's Sports and Bait, 3130 S. Canal.
PERSONAL PICKS: The kids are pushing to go ice fishing for the first time. And I am stalling. In our area south of the city, it is cold enough to hold ice, but not really good enough to build ice. I think I will take them out and we will give it a thorough inspection today. . . . Otherwise, we have a multitude of holiday stuff going on, so I am not sure if we will get in our usual family hike or not. . . . Have two weekends left to try to sneak in some upland hunting. . . . Listeners/readers keep sending ideas for my Outside radio show on WKCC-FM (91.1). Next week I need to do a pile of shows to hold me through January when time disappears with the plethora of shows.