Oh, the anomaly! Drawing for waterfowl blinds on Wolf Lake at William Powers SRA
Drawing for waterfowl blinds on Wolf Lake at William Powers SRA on Chicago’s Southeast Side is an anomaly worth experiencing; plus the Stray Cast.
Nicky Strahl grilled hot dogs at noon Saturday behind the pavilion where the waterfowl-blind draw for Wolf Lake would be held at William W. Powers State Recreation Area. Some duck hunters, telling stories, gathered hours ahead of the 2 p.m. draw. Others lunched at nearby picnic tables.
Chicago has hunting on its Southeast Side. Those duck hunters are dedicated. That was fortunate for Patrick Burgess, a first-timer who used the hours to ask questions and listen.
‘‘I told people what I was doing today — and the look on people’s faces,’’ Burgess said. ‘‘I’ve had so many text messages from people asking if I drew a blind.’’
He would not. That should not be a problem. William Powers almost always has open blinds. The advantage of drawing a blind is a guaranteed spot for the season. William Powers has 20 blind sites, eight of them permanent.
Burgess grew up in Ohio, where he duck-hunted with his late grandfather. After graduating from law school, he came to Chicago, where he met his wife. But Burgess would return to Ohio for duck hunting.
Then he found the blind draw at William Powers when he Googled duck hunting in Chicago. So he contacted Strahl, a wildlife/hunting heritage biologist with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
‘‘I called Nicky, and I never met anybody so passionate and helpful,’’ Burgess said. ‘‘Nice to know that this is available in Chicago. I’m not a golfer. This is more enjoyable.’’
Joe Lulinski suggested ‘‘staying pretty much on the south side of the lake.’’
Some consider the road blinds key. The best days are with north/northeast winds.
‘‘I live on the East Side, [and] it is more of a tradition than anything,’’ Lulinski said. ‘‘Still, it is a nice thing to do in the city.’’
He was drawn and took Blind 5.
At 1:59 p.m., Strahl stood on a picnic table and announced, ‘‘One minute.’’
A guy rushed forward. She checked his photo ID and hunting license, then he put the final folded card into the wire roller.
Strahl loosened up the crowd of nearly 100 people, an adult Lab, a 6-month-old Lab and a setter, saying: ‘‘Can everyone hear me? If not, shut up.’’
She went over basics, then 6-year-old Giorgio Santoro drew for each blind.
Kyle Koble of Griffith, Indiana, was first and chose Blind 15, a road blind.
‘‘There are lots of birds,’’ he said. ‘‘You see all kinds of things out there. May not always get something, but at least you get to go hunting.’’
That’s the heart of it.
Strahl said 71 cards were entered (some downstate draws have thousands).
‘‘Lots of fresh blood,’’ she said.
Applications for archery deer hunting at William Powers must be in Strahl’s email by Aug. 15. For applications, go to huntillinois.org/sites/william-w-powers-sra.
While moving sculptures downtown, cart ‘‘The Picasso’’ — the Spanish artist’s shrug to Chicago — to Burnham Harbor, then dump it east of Northerly Island as fish cover.