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Chicago outdoors: Whooping cranes, Dan Gapen, crazy person asking about ice fishing, eclipse sequence

Six whooping cranes in Kankakee County, a note from the late Dan Gapen, a “crazy person” (me) asking about ice on the Chain and a sequence of the lunar eclipse are among the notes from around Chicago outdoors.

Whooping cranes in Kankakee County. Credit: Bronson Ratcliff
Whooping cranes in Kankakee County.
Bronson Ratcliff

Notes come from around Chicago outdoors and beyond.


Bronson Ratcliff messaged on last Saturday, “Hey Dale, I had six whooping cranes this afternoon in Kankakee County!” He could only see the colors on the leg bands. He has seen some in Indiana at Kankakee Sands and a single at Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area. “Never saw six though,” he messaged.

WOTW, the celebration of wild stories and photos around Chicago outdoors, runs most weeks in the special two-page outdoors section in the Sun-Times Sports Saturday. To make submissions, email or contact me on Facebook (Dale Bowman), Twitter (@BowmanOutside) or Instagram (@BowmanOutside).



Saturday, Dec. 4: Introduction to shotgun shooting, Tallgrass chapter, Palos Sportsman Club, Frankfort, (708) 987-6685


Friday, Dec. 3, to Dec. 5: St. Paul Ice Fishing and Winter Sports Show, St. Paul RiverCentre, Minn.,


Today, Nov. 29: Woodcock season ends

Wednesday, Dec. 1: Final day, applications for first lottery, spring turkey

Thursday, Dec. 2, to Sunday, Dec. 5: Second firearm deer season


“I took moon shots with a wide angle lens every 2 minutes for about an hour before totality. Ended up with a string of pearls!” Dr. Elizabeth Pector,

Sequence of the lunar eclipse. Credit: Dr.Elizabeth Pector
Sequence of the lunar eclipse.
Dr. Elizabeth Pector

A: I had for glimpses of the lunar eclipse on Nov. 19 driving to hunt deer. But that memory can’t match the photography that Dr. Pector did.


89: Age of Dan Gapen, one the greats in the North American fishing world and a regular of the show circuit around Chicago and elsewhere, who died last Saturday. A memorial is being planned for Mr. Gapen, who told the Monticello Times a year ago, “At 88 years old I’m still hoping to get back out there to our shows. I miss talking tackles with strangers and doing seminars.”


“You did it. You are the first one, the first crazy person to ask, `How’s the ice.’ You always get one. Someone is gonna crawl out from under a rock. Here’s my answer, `No.’ “

Greg Dickson, proprietor o Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch, answering my question about the possibility of ice fishing.