WWW Chicago outdoors: Beginnings & betweens

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Looking back, it looks like last year this was the time for me to get serious about deer season, just like bowhunters are getting serious big bucks loopy with the rut, that’s the focus for this Wild Weekend Wandering around Chicago outdoors.

I see this photo of my deer stands was taken last year on Nov. 1. It was a photo that drew a couple smartass remarks from underemployed carpenter friends. Unfortunately, a year later, they are still underemployed.

Might be a good week to invite them out to the boondocks to help me upgrade my stand. Need to check with the farmer. He has beans picked, but there was still some corn standing the last I checked.

I have not looked at the stand since last December, but from what I can see from a nearby road, the basics are OK.

On a side note, for a story, I was surfing around the Internet looking at deer stands and stories on deer stand safety, and I swear I saw my picture above used as an example of how not to.

It’s time.

BOWHUNTING: From the bowhunters I talked to or received notes from, this could be the weekend, though I expect it will more likely be next weekend, when the big bucks really fall in big numbers. Bucks are moving. If, like me, you do a lot of driving around areas with deer, stay alert for the next few weeks.

WADING/FLOATING FOR SMALLMOUTH: River conditions look good for another weekend of wading or floating. As Dan Sims of Sims Spinners put it earlier this week, “Colder water is upon us. Toothy critters have been on the feed bag lately. Northern Pike, Walleye and Sauger.” He was talking about the Des Plaines River, but that holds true for the other rivers too.

But water temperatures are dropping, and my vote would be on the side of definitely shifting toward live bait.

Or, as Ken Gortowski put it in talking about the Fox River, “The long range temperatures show a long string of temps in the low to mid 50’s. A wise fisherman would start using minnows if they really wanted to catch fish. A wise fisherman wouldn’t give up just yet, either.”

Yes, on both counts.

SANDHILL CRANES: The count of sandhill cranes at Jasper-Pulaski FWA near Medaryville, Ind. on Tuesday was 6,607. If you have never gone to the site southeast of Valparaiso, Ind., I highly recommend a fall trip. The sight and sounds of the cranes is something to behold. Best viewing is sunrise or sunset at Goose Pasture Viewing Area. But I find it worth touring the area to watch the sandhills in the surrounding fields, too. Click here to see, listen and learn details of the site.

SANDHILLS AND PADDLING: Speaking of sandhills, Chicago River Canoe & Kayak holds its Crane Viewing Trips to English Lake, Ind., again on Saturday and Sunday. There’s also a trip to paddle and view sandhill cranes planned on Nov. 6. Make reservations at (773) 704-2663 or e-mail info@chicagoriverpaddle.com.

INDIANA STREAMS FOR SALMON/TROUT: Indiana streams continue to hold good numbers of steelhead, coho and some kings. Water conditions are stabilizing some. But it is getting toward the end of the utter craziness of the last few weeks.

For those without a lot of experience on the Indiana streams, click here for access points on Salt, Trail and the Little Cal. . . . And keep in mind that next Saturday (Nov. 5) at 1 p.m., Glen Gajewski and Mark Radvonausky will lead a seminar on the creeks and access points at Mik-Lurch Fishing Tackle Outlet in Hammond–(219) 989-0575.

ST. JOSEPH RIVER: High water of earlier in the week has dropped, so the weekend should be fine for waders and boaters. One of the better fall runs on the St. Joe keeps going. Wild numbers of salmonids–5,087 as of yesterday–keep moving past the South Bend Fish Ladder, according to the Indiana DNR. The DNR report said it is mostly steelhead coming through now. Best for steelhead has been below the Twin Branch and Mishawaka Dams in Mishawaka. Click here for the Indiana DNR report on the St. Joe. . . . Earlier in the week, Tyler Harmon messaged that some steelhead and browns were going in the river, while those pier fishing or surf casting were catching some whitefish, lakers and steelhead. If you have never done it, fishing off the St. Joe pier is one of those things you should do at least once in life.

WATERFOWL HUNTING: I am curious whether the weather shift will bring many fresh birds. Other than field hunting for Canada geese, waterfowling has been on the slow side.

DUCKS UNLIMITED BANQUET: On Saturday, Grundy County DU holds its annual banquet at Chapin’s East Banquet Hall in Minooka. Contact Mike Saltzman at (815) 703-8775 or bigdeer189@aol.com.

HUNTING BITS: Crow hunting opens today. I only know a handful of people who have done crow hunting. . . . Firearm turkey ends Sunday. . . . The first dove season ends Monday.

ILLINOIS PERMITS/SEASONS: Applications are open online for late-winter deer special hunt area permits and for spring turkey permits.

SALMON SNAGGING: Snagging for chinook and coho is open on the Illinois lakefront at four locations only: Lincoln Park Lagoon south of Fullerton Avenue, Waukegan Harbor (North Harbor Basin only); Winnetka Power Plant discharge area and Jackson Park Harbor (inner and outer harbors). No snagging is allowed at any time within 200 feet of a moored watercraft or as posted.

ARCHERY: Archery Bow Range Chicago offers instruction.

PERSONAL PICKS: The family hike will be Sunday, unless guide Pete Riedesel convinces me to go along with him and his son on an adventure. If the family hikes, I am not sure where yet. . . . For today, I plan to chat with the farmer and see what things look like for deer season. . . . Work continues on an ongoing writing project. . . . For a change, I am caught up on “Outside”, the radio show airing at 4:30 p.m. on Mondays and repeating at 12:30 p.m. Sundays on WKCC-FM (91.1).

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