Wednesday I visited the Art Institute of Chicago with my wife. When I passed Henri Rosseau’s “The Waterfall,” I had to stop for a selfie.

Hey, firearm deer season is here. And I noticed the stags, or what I think are stags, in his painting and thought it would make a perfect lead photo for this Wild Weekend Wandering around Chicago outdoors.

Later this morning, I will head off to sit at a check station for the opening day of Illinois’ first firearm deer season. It runs through Sunday.

That is the most important thing going this weekend around Chicago outdoors, but I suspect that perch fishing will rank up there, too. And observing the migration and movement of sandhill cranes will draw people, too.

I hope to do stand-by for deer hunting Saturday morning and/or Sunday morning, too.

But I may have to pick one because I plan to be wandering around on Monday looking at the sandhill cranes piling in by the thousands at Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area southeast of Valparaiso, Ind.

Sandhill cranes flying at Jasper-Pulaski FWA in November, 2016
Credit: Bill Peak

The last few years this has become an annual trek for myself and John Vukmirovich the week before Thanksgiving.

The count on Tuesday was up to 7,706 cranes at Jasper-Pulaski FWA itself. Vukmirovich and I usually drive around beforehand and find the fields holding the most feeding birds.

You want to be up on the viewing platform at Jasper-Pulaski about an hour before sunset. Once sunset comes, the flights of sandhills drops off rapidly.

Click here for details on the sandhills and Jasper-Pulaski.

I recommend the best pair of binoculars you have. Drive carefully on the back roads, it is deer season and deer are on the move. We usually see deer and wild turkey, too.

One year, I think we saw a whooping crane mixed in. That happens more regularly in recent years.

The other major thing going is the perch on the Chicago lakefront, especially at the Southeast Side slips. I expect hundreds will be there again this weekend. And I also suspect that it will take sorting for keepers.

See how my schedule shakes out next week with Thanksgiving, but I may have to go for some perch.

The view west at North Slip.
Credit: Dale Bowman