Cars and pickups pulling camouflaged boats stretched near Avenue O when I arrived at the back south entrance to the William Powers State Recreation Area.

Saturday on Wolf Lake was something special, with dual openers for fall trout and waterfowl hunting in Illinois’ north zone.

William Powers, located on the Southeast Side, is an anomaly among Illinois Department of Natural Resources sites. Wolf Lake, the dominant feature, is the ultimate post-industrial water.

Senior site tech Charlie ‘‘Brother Nature’’ Sloan saw the crush of vehicles and opened the gates to let early fishermen and waterfowlers in. Then he set up the standby draw.

Charlie Sloan, senior site tech at William Powers State Recreation Area, marks occupied blinds during the draw for blinds for waterfowl hunting on Wolf Lake.
Credit: Dalle Bowman

Waterfowling at Wolf Lake is its own anomaly. Yes, there is hunting in Chicago.

Dan Johns of Crete was among a cluster of four young men. He said they had come to make sure everything is working for the season.

‘‘He shoots a lot,’’ Nick Walsh of Peotone joked.

‘‘We come and take whatever blind is open,’’ said Brandon White of Cedar Lake, Indiana, who was there with brother Noah.

‘‘There are not a lot of hunting areas in Illinois,’’ Walsh said.

There are even fewer in Chicago, but Wolf Lake can be good in the right conditions.

‘‘Need a north wind,’’ said Kevin ‘‘Wheels’’ Westcott of Dyer, Indiana. ‘‘When you can’t get a boat on Lake Michigan, this is awesome.’’

Yes, Westcott is a wheelchair hunter. He drew blind 19, in the northeast corner of Wolf Lake, during the summer draw.

Seven guys were there for the standby draw.

‘‘Hardest time is between the opener for trout and opening day of duck season,’’ Sloan said.

Kids dubbed Sloan ‘‘Brother Nature’’ for the ‘‘Parks and Recreation’’ show. Sloan, who once owned a bait shop on the South Side, makes a better ‘‘Brother Nature’’ than Chris Pratt.

The can for the waterfowl blind draw on Wolf Lake at William Powers State Recreation Area.
Credit: Dale Bowman

Sloan marked the map on the office wall with occupied blinds, then rattled the coffee can to draw the remaining blinds. Hunters swapped some, then went to launch their boats.

I checked the dozens in the dark (a few were throwing lighted floats) at the inlet by the nature center. Caught trout splashed to net. A few years ago, that spot was opened to inland-trout season. It became extremely popular.

As Phil Macek unhooked a trout, he said he uses a slip float with a bee moth (wax worm) two feet under it.

‘‘Bring extra rods because you’re going to break off hooks and get tangled,’’ Macek said.

Words to the wise in the crowd.

The first volley of shots came at 6:45 a.m., five minutes into shooting time.

It was time.

For the opener, 37 hunters bagged three Canada geese, nine mallards and five other ducks.


Archery deer harvest was 11,396 through Sunday, nearly the same as the 11,335 in the same period last year. Signs of rut show as male harvest rises to 34 percent. . . . Opening day Saturday at Heidecke Lake saw 17 boats report 45 ducks. Harvest dropped (14 boats/12 ducks) Sunday.

Stray cast

Hey, CBS Sports, try a birder at the Magic Hedge, a fisherman on the Chicago River and a snagger at Jackson Park as scene-setters instead of the hackneyed boat in the river, Ferris wheel at Navy Pier and guys making deep-dish.

Trout fishermen at dawn Saturday on Wolf Lake at William Powers State Recreation Area on Chicago’s Southeast Side.
Credit: Dale Bowman

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