Category Archives: The Hunting Stories


Fungus Hunting

Not sure why I like to go out fungus hunting.

Something about decay has always been attractive.

I have no interest in ever identifying what I find, but that’s true with just about everything I do.

Just another opportunity to be out in the woods, fungus hunting, squirrel hunting, flower hunting. All the same on some level.

It does give me the opportunity to go out blundering through the woods, searching out trees dead standing, dead falls, long dead and rotting trees.

Something relaxing about climbing around all this dead wood. The dead silence of the woods this time of year helps.

Takes a bit of focus I guess, observing rather than just looking.

I’ve been lamenting that most of the shots turn out like crap. Low light, camera shake, disastrous images.

Sunday I was paying attention to what I was doing. A tripod would be worthless here. Nowhere to put it. Trying to figure out where would kill the moment.

I guess I could get a longer lens, set up further away on level ground, zoom in tight.

But that ruins the way I like to do things. Get in tight, within inches, compose as much as possible in the viewfinder so I do virtually no cropping after the fact.

For now, I’ll practice what I know. Slow down my breathing, brace my arms to my sides and at the right moment between slow breaths, push the button.

Doesn’t always work, but I’ll take it.


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.


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.



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.


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.