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Chicago outdoors: An artful heron, suburban big buck, eastern cottontails, Wisconsin sturgeon spearing

An artful photo of a heron, a big suburban buck holding its antlers, a note on eastern cottontail rabbits and a thought on the sturgeon spearing season in Wisconsin are among the notes around Chicago outdoors.

A great blue heron landing on the ice on the North Side. Credit: Paul Vriend
A great blue heron landing on the ice on the North Side.
Credit: Paul Vriend

Notes come from all around Chicago outdoors.

WILD OF THE WEEK

Paul Vriend photographed this great blue heron landing at the West Ridge Nature Preserve on Chicago’s North Side. “I thought I would be witnessing a very awkward, slippery landing,” he emailed. “Instead, the bird used its wings for balance and looked surprisingly graceful. I call this image ‘Ice Dancer.’ “

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 (BowmanOutside@gmail.com) or contact me on Facebook (Dale Bowman), Twitter (@BowmanOutside) or Instagram (@BowmanOutside).

WILD TIMES

HUNTER SAFETY

March 13-14: Bridgeview, (708) 594-1818

Feb. 18 and 20: Bonfield, (815) 635-3198

WILD THINGS

Friday, Feb. 19, to Feb. 21 and Feb. 26-28: Wild Things 2021 Conference will held virtually, $15 per weekend or $30 for entire conference, wildthingscommunity.org.

ICE FISHING DERBY

Through Sunday, Feb. 14: Northern Illinois Conservation Club’s 61st annual Ice Fishing Derby, Chain O’Lakes, mynicc.org

BIRDING

Through Monday, Feb. 15: Great Backyard Bird County, birdcount.org

FISH GATHERING

Tuesday, Feb. 16: Free virtual seminar by guide Bill Schultz on smallmouth bass in Door County, Arlington Anglers, 6:30 p.m., arlingtonanglers.com.

ILLINOIS PERMITS/SEASONS

Monday, Feb. 15: Windshield cards must be reported online

Monday, Feb. 15: Rabbit season, squirrel season, and raccoon, opossum, fox and bobcat seasons end

Monday, Feb. 15: Final day, applications, site specific youth turkey hunts

DALE’S MAILBAG

A 14-point buck in the western suburbs. Provided by Jim Mecha
A 14-point buck in the western suburbs.
Provided by Jim Mecha

“He was with eight does munching on my evergreens.” Jim Mecha on the 14-point buck he spotted in Wheaton last week.

A: What I find interesting that it was still sporting a good rack in early February.

BIG NUMBER

3: Acres of land an adult female eastern cottontail rabbit (Sylvilagus floridanus) will move in, according to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Click here for more on eastern cottontails.

LAST WORD

“This year, with more snow cover and less runoff leading up to the season kickoff, the DNR anticipates better water clarity than seen in recent years. Since water clarity is crucial in spearing success, the DNR expects higher harvests from Lake Winnebago in 2021 and for harvest caps to be met before the 16-day season cutoff.”

Wisconsin DNR, on conditions leading to the sturgeon-spearing opener Saturday, Feb. 13