Category Archives: The Hunting Stories

119-1973_IMG

A Hunting I Will Go

I don’t do it as much as I used to, but this coming Wednesday a hunting I will go.

A decade and more ago I used to go pheasant hunting fairly often. I’ve been to a number of the places around here that offer controlled pheasant hunts. Been to a couple of hunt clubs and have had the opportunity to do a few of the free upland game hunts on property that is set aside for that purpose.

In the last 9 years I think I’ve gone pheasant hunting 3 times. Two of those were on what are called cleanup days. You get to go for free on a few days after the season ends, but your chances of getting birds without a dog are next to nil.

This is controlled pheasant hunting. Birds are released the morning of the hunt. Not ideal, but around here you take what you can get.

Years ago I would go by myself on weekdays when everyone else had to work. Though I’ve never had a dog to hunt with, I never went home without a bird. I’m persistent and like I do with my fishing, I learn the nature of the beast. Where they lie, how and why they fly, what makes them jumpy and it seems to work.

One of the reasons I haven’t gone much in years is the cost. I had no choice but to go into austerity mode financially and my conscience won’t allow me to spend money frivolously when there are bills to be paid.

Though things aren’t great financially at the moment, they’re the best they’ve been in the past five years. To the point where I check my account and, well hell, look at that, a few extra bucks.

I have one vacation day left this year and had no clue what I was going to do with it. I still can’t get used to taking days off of work and they actually pay me to go away. My boss finds it humorous.

I decided to use that last vacation day to go pheasant hunting, but now there was the cost. Once you’re in austerity mode it’s a flat out bitch to think outside of it. I agonized for a week on whether to spend the few bucks it would take for the opportunity to try to shoot a few birds.

My wife finally chimed in…

“Will you just fucking go, you know you want to.”

That snapped me out of it, for the most part.

So Wednesday, the day has been taken off, I paid enough for the possibility of three birds and a hunting I will go.

I know the place where I’ll be going well. I spend a lot of time there wandering around. I know where the birds congregate, where the other hunters push them, I know which way the wind will be blowing that day and I know how to take advantage of how others around me are hunting.

Last week after shooting time ended I went for a walk at the state park. I hiked along a trail to a stretch I always thought looked birdie. I walked in noisily for about 20 feet, then stopped and didn’t make a sound.

A few seconds later a rooster blew up not twenty feet from me.

I could have hit it with a rock.

I still had the touch.

Now I have a decision to make. Do I use the 80 plus year old 12 gauge, no name, single shot, pipe on a stick that is deadly accurate and hurts like hell when you pull the trigger.

Or do I use the Remington Wingmaster Model 870 twenty gauge pump that’s an absolute joy to shoot.

120-2004_IMG

I think I’ll bring both. I plan on being out there for quite some time since I have the time. Use one for part of the day, then switch.

I’m confident my shooting skills are still up to par.

We shall see.

133-3315_IMG

IMG_6813

Illinois Deer Population and EHD

Ran into an old guy while out driving around yesterday.

He lives on a hoarder infested farmette a few miles out of town.

Says he has indisputable evidence that the drop in deer numbers in Illinois is being caused by alien abductions.

He also says that EHD is caused by alien experimentation gone wrong.

I think he’s nuts.

I think Obama is causing all these deer problems.

He is the antichrist you know.

It’s just his way of getting back at all the crackers that didn’t vote for him back in his home state.

photo_2

Driving on 290 Toward Rockford

That’s all the text message said, Driving on 290 toward Rockford, and there was a photo attached. I had to have Nina email me the photos, the screen on my phone is barely 2 inches square and I was wondering why she was sending me a picture of the back of somebody’s SUV.

Because there were two deer strapped to the carrier on the back of the SUV.

Got to hand it to a daughter that thinks of their dad when they see something like that. She knows how much I enjoy hunting even though I’ve only had the opportunity to go deer hunting once about a decade ago out in Virginia. I did get a deer then, with a muzzle loader that’s a replica of a Kentucky long rifle. For the first time I went deer hunting, I didn’t know it would be my last chance in a long while, I wanted to do something a little more traditional. I had no access to bows and a friend had given me this rifle.

What I’ve found out since then is that hunting can get expensive. Years ago I used to go pheasant, squirrel and waterfowl hunting fairly often. Over the past eight years hunting has become a luxury I simply can no longer afford except for the occasional squirrel hunt. Even then, the places I like to go squirrel hunting are a bit of a drive and it’s been hard to justify burning off the gallons of gas it takes to go bag a few squirrels.

Some day.

Some day I’ll be able to go out pheasant hunting again on a whim and not do a complex financial analysis of my cash flow projected two to three months forward first.

Some day the time and financial resources will coincide so I can go spend a few days down in Missouri and hunt with my father-in-law. He owns 40 acres on the Missouri/Arkansas border that is begging to be hunted.

Some day I won’t think twice about driving the 200 mile round trip to Morrison Rockwood State Park or the 260 mile round trip to Apple River Canyon State Park just to go squirrel hunting. They are the two finest places I’ve been to for the simple pleasure of a day of squirrel hunting.

Some day I’ll be able to get out deer hunting around here, but I still plan a more traditional outing. I have a long bow with a slight recurve that I’ve got pretty good at shooting. I even have a couple of hand made wood arrows I’ve set aside for this opportunity.

Some day.

Till then I’ll rely on the occasional photo’s from friends to remind me of missed hunting opportunities.

Or I’ll just wait for my daughter to send another text message, with another photo of deer on a carrier.

I told her the next time she sees something like this to flag down the driver, get him to pull over and find out how much he wants for a hind quarter. You never know, an attractive young woman asking about deer hind quarters just might get her one for free. I’ve got killer recipes for venison chili and stew that are gathering dust and a hind quarter would be perfect.

Then there’s the fettuccine with venison alfredo sauce…

Illinois Gun Control Legislation in Progress

When I woke up this morning the last thing I really felt like thinking about was gun control. Being a gun owner, I had been dwelling on it enough ever since Sandy Hook.

But because of recent developments in Springfield in trying to get gun control legislation passed (HB 815 and HB1263 if you care to look them up) it was like being slapped awake this morning.

Doom and gloom, our guns are being taken away from us. Soon marauding hordes will be kicking down our doors to rob us and rape us and kill us.

In my 56 years I have never even considered any of that as a possibility, but that’s all I could find this morning on the local outdoor sites I visit.

What is being missed in all this doom and gloom noise are the voices of reasonable and responsible hunters.

I like to think I am one of those.

I read through the legislation, not being a lawyer, it’s grueling, and there is not a single thing in it that would have any affect on my ability to hunt in Illinois. The legislation has no effect on any gun I own. I have no interest in hand guns, so bans on those don’t bother me at all.

The only thing I have an issue with is the insistence of magazines that hold no more than 10 rounds.

Ten is too much, I’d rather see a five round limit. If I’m out target shooting, no skin off my butt to stop and reload a magazine after five shots.

My friend Mark Kasick found a couple of articles that he linked to on Facebook. These voices of reason are worth reading.

A Conservative Case for an Assault Weapons Ban

An Open Letter to Fellow Gun Owners

I am all for expanding gun control like Illinois is proposing to the federal level, even stricter. As I said, it will have no affect on my ability to go out hunting.

The only thing that will keep gun control from happening is that the ones that should care will get distracted or give up. You can’t do that. You’ll have nobody but yourself to blame when another Sandy Hook or Aurora or some other tragedy happens.

The anti gun control crowd is organizing and contacting every one that needs to be contacted in order to defeat this gun control legislation.

If they succeed it will only be because everyone else sat on their hands and did nothing.

North Zone Waterfowl – Ducks Done but There’s Still Geese

Wrote this on December 10th and never did anything with it…

_______

Some waterfowl observations.

For the first couple of weeks of the waterfowl season, it sounded like a war zone around Yorkville. Since then, things have died down considerably, hardly hear any shooting. There’s also not many geese hanging around down this way. They usually show up in bigger numbers when the ponds in the area start to freeze over. This stretch of the Fox River doesn’t freeze over because of the effects of the Yorkville dam and that’s a draw for the birds.

But, I have to drive east everyday for work now. I take Route 126 through to I-55. Between Yorkville and Plainfield it’s primarily farm fields. The closer you get to Plainfield, the more birds you see. Hundreds upon hundreds of them. In the fields, flying overhead in massive V’s and all over the DuPage River.

I’m assuming the draw for all these birds is Lake Renwick and all the strip mine pits in the area that are now fishing clubs. As those start to freeze over, a lot of the birds move to the DuPage River, which almost never freezes over.

A smart waterfowler would do a bit of research and check out the hunting opportunities around Plainfield. I know you can hunt on the DuPage River further south of Plainfield, only I can’t remember the details. No public blinds as far as I remember, so you’d need a boat blind. Better still, it might be worth someone’s while to find out if you can drift shoot out of a canoe through that section. I know you can do that on the Fox River down stream of Silver Springs State Park, why not on the DuPage?

As long as there’s open water around Plainfield, the birds will stick around. I’ve noticed for years that the geese hang around in that area all winter mainly because of the DuPage River. I would imagine there has to be a way to take advantage of this.

_____

Well, things have change a bit since then.

The season for ducks in the North Zone ended on December 18th, but the season for Canada Geese doesn’t end till January 17, 2013. There are still massive amounts of them around Plainfield, but the turn in the weather on Thursday has changed things a bit on the Fox River.

Friday night the geese were moving onto the Fox River down from my house. You don’t think of them flying at night, but I hear them all the time heading down to the river and then talking up a storm once they get there. That means this cold front has started to freeze the ponds in the area and they’re heading for open water. The river will get some skim ice now, but it won’t start to freeze over for awhile yet.

Cruising along the river on Saturday showed geese gathering all over the place. This is the first I’ve seen this all season. Remember my comment above about drift shooting down river from Silver Springs State Park?

I stopped on the bridge over the river that defines this down stream edge of the State Park. In the pool below the bridge and for down stream as far as you could see were geese, at least a couple of hundred of them. This is where you can supposedly start drift shooting on the river. If you want to try this I would get that info verified to make sure, but it’s been done in the recent past and I haven’t heard that things have changed.

That being said, I was out this morning around the beginning of shooting time watching a couple hundred geese leave the river and head for the surrounding fields.

No shooting to be heard anywhere.

The 10 day weather forecast shows low 30’s during the day and teens and twenties every night. This should bring considerably more geese to the river.

If you’re a dedicated Canada Goose hunter, you might not want to miss this.