The peak or near peak of the rut is probably the biggest pull or poll of options for this Wild Weekend Wandering around Chicago outdoors.

Even I crawled into a deer stand last night and this morning for the first time with a bow. In Illinois, crossbows are now legal and that appears to have upped interest and harvest during the rut (see my column to come on Sunday).

But there’s also the opening of small-game seasons, some signs of perch starting to come in at the Southeast Side spots, and ducks on the move.

It wasn’t that many years ago when this weekend was all about thousands of orange-blazed hunters descending on rural Illinois in the social event of the outdoors year. But pheasant, rabbit and quail hunting has dramatically lost the interest and effort of hunters. Click here for the latest status reports on rabbits, pheasants and quail in Illinois.

Deer stand Friday morning in central Illinois.
Credit: Dale Bowman

Part of that drop in interest is because of the ongoing dramatic shift to a focus on deer hunting. And by far, that will draw more effort this weekend than small-game hunting.

Just because I remember how big small-game season was when I was young and what a rite of passage it was, I find the shift toward deer hunting fascinating.

Even for me, the shift to deer hunting is true.  The stand to the right is the one I climbed out of this morning.

I’ve always been a big fan of deer hunting, even though I am not very good at it, but I used to really like and anxiously await the opening day of rabbit and pheasant hunting, too.

Oh well, times change.

Duck hunting should have duck weather with the forecast for this weekend. Those in the central one remember this is the goofy period where hunting Canada geese is briefly closed [Add] next week Monday through Nov. 11.

I was duck hunting with decent success on Thursday at Spring Lake. There’s a mix of ducks around.

As to fishing, those who brave the weather will probably be chasing crappie inland or trying for perch.

I am getting a few inklings of perch around the Southeast Side spots. Glen at The Anglers Outlet in Oak Forest called this afternoon and said guys are getting some nice perch at 87th. He also wanted to mention that access is not permitted right now off LSD onto the private property at the west end of the North Slip (87th). The east end by Calumet Harbor is Chicago Park District property and fishing and access allowed.

As to me, I was gone for parts of three days and just got home, this might be a weekend for building up good will with the family and, more importantly, my wife.