Monday night bass tournaments

The News Outside

Dedicated outdoors devotee, Kankakee Daily Journal, Feb 01

Challenge part of ice fishing’s allure, Dale Bowman, Feb 01

Youth program gives hunting situations, Quad City Times, Feb 01

Midwest Summer Fishing Report, Dale Bowman , Jul 21

Ticks are becoming growing problem, Jeremiah Haas, Jul 19



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Recent entries


Through the Lens

Really. Big. Fish.

Sat, February 16, 2019

It’s February Heartland friends,so you know what that means! I’m all about the lake sturgeon in Winnebago and all the sturgeon related fun in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.

Spearers heading out on Lake Winnebago to cut in and set up their shanties

Each February Fond du Lac, Wisconsin and Lake Winnebago are transformed into all things sturgeon. Lake Winnebago, affectionately known to locals as “Bago” is with the exception of a small and very short season (this year’s MI spearing season lasted 80 minutes before meeting the harvest cap) in Michigan is the only place in the world that the long-standing tradition of sturgeon spearing takes place. Wisconsin DNR provides a wealth of information not just about sturgeon spearing, but lake sturgeon conservation and management.

WIDNR at the Wendt’s registration station waiting patiently on the first sturgeon of the 2019 season to arrive

The Sturgeon Spectacular takes place opening weekend of sturgeon spearing season and grows each year to include more activities, more fun, and more celebrations of really big fish. While certainly the focus is on the sturgeon, and spearing – the Sturgeon Spectacular offers many activities for those who choose not to spear, but still want to experience the traditions, culture, and fun that can be had in Fond du Lac.

Snow Sculpting Competition

The 2019 Sturgeon Spectacular even featured WISSA – the 2019 World Ice and Snow Sailing Championships featuring competitors from 11 countries.

WISSA competitors on the ice

The entire Fond du Lac community gets behind the Sturgeon Spectacular activities that center around winter and really big fish. It’s easy to find something that appeals to everyone – Ice sculpting, snow sculpting championships, motorcycle and snow machine races on the frozen lake, special concerts and exhibits at the library, children’s museum, and Thelma Sadoff Center for the Arts. Lakeside Park also supports events such as the ceremonial burning of the good luck sturgeon effigy and bonfire,  “Spearing and Beering” which highlights local brewers. We can’t forget the “Running of the Sturgeon” nighttime parade. There are dog sled demonstrations and rides, a fat tire bike race, and a fun run, walk and dog jog.  One almost needs a list, a day planner, and plan to see all of the Sturgeon Spectacular events. Luckily there is also a shuttle that runs daily from one event area to another.

An accordion and polka playing sturgeon in the “Running of the Sturgeon Parade”

Ceremonial burning of the sturgeon “good luck” effigy

The downtown district and merchants also offer a plethora of sturgeon related specials – special cookies, coffee drinks, meal specials and other special sturgeon related discounts. Everywhere you look, it’s all about the sturgeon and really big fish. Store windows sport decorative sturgeon art, bars and restaurants signage features good luck and wishes messages to spearers. Menus feature sturgeon themed specials -some even serving sturgeon!

Sturgeon Snickerdoodles! from Annie’s Fountain City Cafe

A popcorn sturgeon?! Of course says Faris Gourmet Popcorn Company

Just one of the many beautiful ice sculptures displayed throughout Fond du Lac

For those who aren’t spearing, but still long for a look at really big fish, the tradition is to gather at Wendt’s on the Lake near the sturgeon registration station to ooh and ahh over the massive fish being brought in off the ice and listen to the stories being told by the spearers.  This is an experience you will never forget!

Really Big Fish on the table at Wendt’s WIDNR registration station

Whether you visit to spear, beer, play in the snow, or just enjoy winter in Wisconsin plan today for a great winter getaway this time next year! The Fond du Lac CVB will be more than happy to assist you in planning your visit.

Forget that wienermobile - Fond du Lac has a sturgeonmobile!



SB0201 Seeks to Ban All Lead Ammunition For Hunting

Sat, February 02, 2019

There’s been a flurry of bills introduced during the first few weeks of legislative session in Illinois, and rest assured that we will be providing a look at all of them in the coming few days, but SB0201 just jumped out at me on the “WHAT????!!” list.

The bill, introduced by Sen. Iris Martinez (D) of the 20th district, seemed straight forward enough when I started reading through it.

“Section 5. The Wildlife Code is amended by adding Section
5 2.5b as follows:

6   (520 ILCS 5/2.5b new)
7   Sec. 2.5b. Nontoxic ammunition.
8   (a) Except as provided in subsections (e) and (g), and as
9 soon as can be practicably implemented by the Department of
10 Natural Resources under subsection (d), nontoxic ammunition,
11 as certified by the Department, shall be required when taking
12 all wildlife, including game mammals, game birds, non-game
13 birds, and non-game mammals with any firearm.
14   (b) The Department shall adopt by rule a public process to
15 certify ammunition as nontoxic ammunition and shall define, by
16 rule, nontoxic ammunition to include only ammunition in which
17 there is no lead content, excluding the presence of trace
18 elements of lead. The Department shall establish and annually
19 update a list of certified ammunition. The list of certified
20 ammunition shall include, but not be limited to, any federally
21 approved nontoxic shotgun ammunition.”

Nothing surprising in that section, and I think a good many of us saw some type of push to ban all lead ammo coming. We all have our individual arguments for/against; we know how to fight a lead ammunition ban. We know what to do, have data and arguments at the ready.

What caused me to nearly fall out of my chair – was the second section of the bill. The section that frankly, in my opinion is just ridiculous and would be a giant fiasco.

(c) To the extent that funding is available, the Department
23 shall establish a process that provides hunters with nontoxic
1 ammunition at no or reduced charge. The process shall provide
2 that the offer for nontoxic ammunition at no or reduced charge
3 may be redeemed through a coupon sent to a permit holder with
4 the appropriate permit tag. If available funding is not
5 sufficient to provide nontoxic ammunition at no charge, the
6 Department shall set the value of the reduced charge coupon at
7 the maximum value possible through available funding, up to the
8 average cost within this State for nontoxic ammunition, as
9 determined by the Department. The nontoxic ammunition coupon
10 program described in this subsection (c) shall be implemented
11 to the extent that there is sufficient funding within the
12 Department.

Our DNR is already underfunded and understaffed. Thankfully there is included the all important phrase “ to the extent funding is available”. This bill would task IDNR with setting up this entire program to PROVIDE non toxic ammunition.  AT NO OR REDUCED COST.  Could someone please explain to me how exactly this could or would work? Putting our DNR in the position of distributing ammunition sets off a whole series of questions.  First question is does this after the fact turn our DNR into an ammunition dealer? Is that even legal?

I can’t quite figure out the intended logistics of this proposed program either. How would a hunter actually acquire the no/low cost non toxic ammunition or “coupons” ?  Do you get your ammunition when you get your tags and permits? 

It seems to me that this bill sets forth in just a few words an enormous undertaking for IDNR. An undertaking that the agency is not able to fulfill in it’s current state of funding and staff. Essentially a whole new program and all that entails would have to be created.

I say remove the language tasking IDNR with this nonsense of distribution and provision of ammunition. Let us first argue, debate,  and decide if a total lead ban for hunting is appropriate for Illinois hunters. Then, should that even come to pass, hunters would just have to find ammo on their own.

Seriously do we want to have to acquire our ammunition through a DNR program? I think not.

What do you think Heartland Community? Is this a shining example of legislation written by someone who has little knowledge of things actually work? A step towards impairing our ability to hunt? A, I just a crazy grump old broad? (well, I suppose that’s a given!).

Let’s discuss this situation Heartland folks!


Join the First eBird October Big Day this Saturday!

Wed, October 03, 2018

Participate with thousands of other birders this Saturday during the first October Big Day, on October 6, to find and record all the birds you see through eBird. You don’t need to be a bird expert or participate all day long; even birding 30 minutes in your backyard counts. The October Big Day runs from midnight to midnight in your local time zone, and you can report birds from anywhere in the world on eBird, a worldwide bird checklist program used by hundreds of thousands of birders.

On May 5, during the Global Big Day, more than 28,000 people ventured outside in 170 countries, finding 6,899 species, two-thirds of all the world’s bird species in one day, a new world record for birding! With that in mind, a fall event was conceived and the October Big Day was planned.

Why October 6? Because the northern reaches of the world are in the midst of fall migration, and spring is rejuvenating the Southern Hemisphere. No matter where you are, we’re confident you can find some great birds and share them with the world on eBird. Let’s see what we can find together on the first October Big Day!

Each year for the last four years the Global Big Day has set new heights for a single day of birding. This impressive international birding collaboration has been so great we want to have another worldwide eBird Big Day – in October. No matter where you are, we’re confident you can find some great birds on October 6th. Let’s see what we can find together on the first October Big Day!

Regardless of how you celebrate birding on October 6, have fun, enjoy the birds you find, and share your sightings on eBird – because in our world, every bird counts!

For more information about how to participate, see


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