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Bison, deer, pheasants, ducks, geese, perch, sandhills: WWW Chicago outdoors


The seven-foot-tall folk art bison by the late Jack Barker, a local folk artist, stands in the asters and tallgrass at the Welcome Center at the USDA Forest Service’s Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, 30239 S. State Rt. 53 Wilmington, IL 60481. The Barker Bison will be on display for just one day, Saturday, Nov. 3 – National Bison Day. 
Provided by Veronica Hinke / USDA Forest Service - Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie

I find myself awake at 3 a.m., antsy to get back on the deer stand. So I decided to whip out the Wild Weekend Wandering around Chicago outdoors rather than just staring at the ceiling.

I love deer hunting and have a new thing with a crossbow. Will be back out shortly hunting with Jeff Lampe in central Illinois.

But that is not the only big thing going on in hunting. Upland game seasons open Saturday in Illinois. I will be hunting with Jason Bleich, a conservation specialist for Pheasants Forever, on his family’s farm. It is redone in the Conservation Reserve Program and will be something special.

The next week, I drew a duck permit at Banner Marsh and will be down there for some waterfowling. Looking forward to that.

It is a hunting week for me.

But it will soon be a fishing time. The perch will be coming in eventually to the Chicago lakefront in force.

And numbers of sandhill cranes at Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area keep growing. And National Bison Day is Saturday is centered locally around Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie in Wilmington.

With that, to this Wild Weekend Wandering around Chicago outdoors.

RUT: If you’re a bowhunter or anybody driving in likely areas, you know deer are on the move and probably will be even more for the next week or so.

The big boys have carnal thoughts dominating their actions and don’t have much sense. I was out yesterday bowhunting with a crossbow, but no deer down so far, and about to leave shortly to try again.

On the helpful side, such as where I am hunting, crop harvest is going fast. Corn harvest in Illinois was 89 percent complete by Sunday, soybeans at 86 percent complete.

BTW, if you get a big buck and want to submit it for Buck of the Week, it’s time for BOTW to begin for another season. Send nominations to straycasts@sbcglobal.net, Dale Bowman on Facebook or @BowmanOutside on Twitter.

BISON DAY: There is a host of things connected or linked to National Bison Day at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie in Wilmington. Click here for more details of the events.

Not sure if I will have time to catch it or not, but the 7-foot Jack Barker Folk Art Bison will be on display for one day, Saturday at Midewin. I like seeing things like that. Art and the outdoors is my home zone.

And I like that bison are back, in at least a symbolic way, at Midewin.

UPLAND GAME: The opening day of upland game or small game used to be the peak of hunting season. Those days are long gone. But, as I wrote on Sunday, there is some hope for improvement, largely because of habitat, in upland game in Illinois and maybe we have turned a corner in that regard.

I will be hunting one of those areas on Saturday where habitat changed dramatically and brought back the animals.

Another piece of good news is how fast crop harvest is going in Illinois. Corn harvest was 89 percent complete by Sunday, soybeans at 86 percent complete.

PERCH: It is still waiting time for perch to return to the Chicago lakefront. If I had to guess, it might be a bit early this year and really get going before Thanskgiving. We shall see.

SANDHILL CRANES: Sandhill cranes are on the move. The usual Tuesday count at Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area, southeast of Valparaiso, Ind., was up more than a thousand to 5,965 sandhills. Click here to see the updates.

WATERFOWL: Duck season and Canada goose hunting are open in Illinois’ north and central zones.  I will be testing the waters, so to speak, this week with a trip to Banner Marsh.

Corn harvest, BTW, was 89 percent complete by Sunday. I will try to get in the habit of a more regular report on hunting updates online this year with specific information from public sites.

FALL AT MORTON ARBORETUM: Color is brilliant at Morton Arboretum in Lisle and there is still some events going on related to the fall colors, such as the Scarecrow Trail (going through Sunday. One of the editors on the sports desk at the Sun-Times, the editor who most often oversees my outdoors copy, took his parents there last month and just raved. I have not been there with my wife, we usually try to hit the Arboretum at least once a year, fall often being that time.

CHINOOK: There’s not many around, but still hearing of some being caught and snagged around southern Lake Michigan. But the ones I have seen are turning dark, very dark.

PERSIMMONS: Traditionally, Veteran’s Day, Nov. 11, is the start date for picking persimmons Downstate after the first frost. Well, in the northern part of Illinois, we had our first frost and freeze weeks ago.