t's that time of when there's options inside and out for a Wild Weekend Wandering around Chicago outdoors with both ice fishing and show season beginning.
ICE FISHING: It's here and fairly universal, even in areas south of Chicago. The Chicago harbors started to ice up, but as far as I know none are anywhere near safe yet.
Just go ice fishing. Looks like there might be a blip midweek of warmer weather, but, unless it rains, it should not do too much to the ice.
SHOW SEASON: The Gotcha Outdoors Adventure Sport Show starts the show season off on Saturday and Sunday in that most unique of settings at the First Church of the Nazarene in Kankakee.
There's something intriguing about how some seminars in a church sanctuary. I expect to be there on Saturday.
MUSKIE MANIA: Many clubs take advantage of all the brain power around next week for the Chicago Muskie Show next weekend and schedule special speakers.
Guide Chad Cain will speak on Lake Vermilion at the Chicagoland Muskie Hunters chapter of Muskies Inc. at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Park Ridge VFW.
Mike Keyes of Keyes Outdoors TV will speak to the Fox River Valley chapter of Muskies Inc. at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Schaumburg Golf Club.
Guide Tony Grant will talk to the Midwest Musky Club at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Village Sportsmen's Club in Alsip.
PERCH FISHING: I don't know what the nature of harbor ice will be around Chicago harbors over the weekend, so it may take adjustments, such as some the innovative ice-breaking inventions used at Navy Pier over the years.
GOOSE HUNTING: With the cold weather, word is geese are moving later in the day. Still plenty of geese around.
INDIANA STREAMS: Some winter steelhead are in. However, the extreme cold limits effort and opportunity.
Click here for the Indiana DNR's map of Trail Creek access.
WATCHING SANDHILL CRANES: It is past peak, but Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area, southeast of Valparaiso, Ind., is still holding a surprisingly large number of sandhills.
I love this note on Tuesday's count: ``1/2/13: 13,371 cranes counted. Cranes were roosting on the ice in the center of the property.''
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 ends Tuesday in Illinois' north zone. Still very little snow cover in most areas.
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: On Saturday, there's a 600 round robin by the Lincoln Park Archery Club at Archery Bow Range Chicago 9:30 a.m. Saturday. But you better get to it, preregistration is required by emailing email@example.com
Click here for more info.
Archery Bow Range Chicago offers instruction.
ILLINOIS PERMITS: Next Friday is the deadline for the second lottery for spring turkey permits.
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.
BUCK OF THE WEEK: With show season underway, I have BOTW on hold. However, I can be persuaded otherwise by the right buck or right story. 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: With iffy ice, 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: I expect to take the kids ice fishing for the first time tomorrow. My work and things like their volleyball practice prevented it so far this week. . . . Slight chance my neighbor and I might sneak out on the last weekend for upland game here in the north. . . . Listeners/readers keep sending ideas for my Outside radio show on WKCC-FM (91.1). I am doing a pile of recordings (time gets tight during the heart of the show season) in a few hours and am very happy with the guests for today.