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Hunting in Chicago: The waterfowl blind draw for Wolf Lake at William Powers SRA

More than 100 people attended the waterfowl blind draw for Wolf Lake at William Powers SRA.
Dale Bowman/Sun-Times

Werner Kalocinski made a sweeping gesture as he told of first hunting Wolf Lake as a teenager in 1959.

‘‘At that time, none of this s— was here,’’ he said. ‘‘Well, the railroad tracks were. I lived in Hegewisch. I threw my gun over my shoulder and walked here. There was a sandbar, and you could walk out to the middle.’’

There has been waterfowl hunting in Chicago for decades. But I don’t suggest walking down the street with a shotgun over your shoulder on your way to Wolf Lake these days.

Times have changed, but some things stay the same. Nearby hunting access is needed now as much as ever.

I counted around 110 people Saturday for the drawing of 20 waterfowl blinds at William Powers State Recreation Area on the Southeast Side.

Wolf Lake is usually at the bottom of Illinois public sites in terms of hunting success. For access, it is near the top.

Some things are the same anywhere at the draws. Perry Barnhouse of Hometown grilled brats and tried selling his camouflaged boat. Craig Urbanczyk had a table for Dead Duck Down Game Calls.

Mike Bednarek, a union carpenter from Indiana who hunts all over, said: ‘‘If I had to choose [the best day at Wolf Lake], it would be a big north blow with 6- to 10-footers on [Lake Michigan], then divers come in off the lake.’’

He said hunters could improve by adjusting their decoy spreads toward divers, especially on north blows.

Wolf Lake abutting Lake Michigan has interesting effects. Don Fechtner, who was with Kalocinski, said: ‘‘Once in a while, you will get an eider.’’

When pushed, Fechtner said he would take Blind 1, 2 or 3 first because they more often are in wind-protected waters.

At 2 p.m., wildlife biologist Nicky Strahl settled the crowd by saying: ‘‘Can everyone hear me? If not, I need people to stop talking.’’

She went over suggestions from hunters, such as wood-duck boxes in the flooded timber and plantings. She would like a hunting restoration day and said: ‘‘I am looking for a hunter group to get the ball rolling.’’

At 2:09, a couple of boys helped pull sheets from the wire roller. First drawn was Jeff Serbenta of Schererville, Indiana. He picked Blind 2.

Serbenta has other options for hunting, but he likes a blind at Wolf Lake for opening day and ‘‘because it is close to home.’’

At 2:21, Blind 11 was the final one drawn.

Barnhouse summed up what Wolf Lake means.

‘‘It is the closest,’’ he said. ‘‘I had a few good days, more less than more.”


The 2018 Dixon Waterfowl Refuge BioBlitz is Friday and Saturday. A public Biodiversity Festival will be held from 12:30 to 2 p.m. Saturday. Click here for details and more information.

Stray cast

Brian Hanley is the deep eddy by the maelstrom. David Haugh is the mainstream riffle.