Category Archives: The Hunting Stories

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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.

Even a Deer Enjoys a Good Cuban Now and Then

For well over a dozen years while out cruising the internet, I’ve been using the same picture of a cute smiling me when I was four years old as an avatar everywhere I go. Keeps people guessing. How can someone so cute be such an ass at times.

I grew up, the picture didn’t.

That’s me on the left. The monkey sitting next to me is my brother and, yes, he eventually grew into those ears quite handsomely.

The other day I decided to change the picture on my Facebook profile to something more recent. I don’t allow many pictures of me to be taken any more, but this one was taken by my daughter and I kind of like it.

It started up the usual smartass comments from so called friends, but then Nicholas Kriho said, “Needless to say, you didn’t do any successful deer hunting for at least a month after that photo was taken.”

I replied, “Deer are drawn to the cigar smell. The things walk up on me all the time. Or, I smell like a deer.”

I actually think about this fairly often when I’m out and about. We all know how we’re supposed to cleanse ourselves of any kind of odor when heading out deer hunting. We’re even supposed to douse ourselves with all kinds of foul smelling stuff to attract deer.

This flies in the face of what I’ve learned.

The first and only time I’ve hunted deer was out in Virginia. My back won’t allow me to go climbing around in trees, so I built myself a ground blind and then sat there, for hours. It was grueling. Of course I had to smoke a couple of cigars while sitting around doing nothing. I justified this by convincing myself the deer were all upwind of me.

Sure enough, a deer came out of nowhere, stood there giving me a clean shot, so I took it. I always thought that was odd and I know I’ve mentioned it to others when the topic of deer hunting has come up.

Over the years I’ve walked up on, and have had deer walk up on me, hundreds of times while out fishing rivers and just wandering around in the woods. I’m always smoking a cigar, can’t help myself. Recently, these four hung out waiting for me to walk by before they made a dash across the river.

Another recent venture through the woods had me eyeball to eyeball with the biggest deer I had ever seen. Had been smoking a cigar the whole time and it seemed to not care one way or the other.

This happens all the time. On islands, off wandering around in the woods, out squirrel hunting and always with me smoking a cigar. You would think the deer could smell me coming and would keep their distance or hunker down and turn invisible like deer seem to be able to do.

It was this train of thought today after the comment that Nicholas made that finally made the little bells go off in my head.

Deer are used to smelling smoke.

At least around here. They have to be, I smell smoke all the time. All the houses around me have fireplaces and all their yards have fire pits. There’s always someone burning something. I can smell smoke coming from the homes on the other side of the ravine, a good half mile away. There are always deer hanging out around the ravine.

Not far away, the farm fields start. At times I can see and smell the smoke a mile away, coming from the brush piles being burned off by some farmer some where. I see deer all the time, cruising these fields and walking along the tree lines. This time of year it’s not unusual to see and smell a smoky haze traveling down the Fox River below my house. And there are the deer wandering along the river.

I enjoy these smells of smoke, I find them comforting somehow. The deer have to think something of these smells too.

So that has to be it. The deer are used to the smoke smells. When I go wandering around in the river and through the woods smoking away on one of my cigars, they must think nothing of it. They smell it all the time.

Now I have to get the deer trained. When they smell me coming, puffing away on one of my cigars, they show up with a little keg of cognac hanging from their necks.

And I’ll promise not to shoot them.