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May 2015 Heartland Outdoors cover hunting and fishing Illinois

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Through the Lens

The Irony of it All

Sun, May 17, 2015

Yesterday marked the beginning of National Safe Boating Week. I had a post ready to submit regarding just that when my dearly beloved yelled – “Rains over let’s go stick fish!”, so I put that original post aside and headed out see if the silvers and big heads were up.

Indeed they were, and we had very enjoyable afternoon doing our part for conservation, and taking out good numbers of silvers, bigheads, and few grassies and gar.

I wish I could tell you what exactly caused my less than graceful header off the front of the boat, but honestly I’m not sure. One minute I was on the front of the boat retrieving an arrow from some brush and the next I was hitting the water face first.

On the way to a face full of silt, slime and Lord knows what else I hit a pile of submerged iron and metal posts. I suspect leftovers from a long ago club house dock. I was tangled up, I had one piece of metal that whacked me stuck in the leg of my pants, and the others felt a little like I was some strange twisted cage. The water was extremely muddy, the chocolate milk looking water that so often happens after a heavy rain along the river. Every direction I flailed around trying to get untangled and gain a foot hold were piles of debris. Tree roots, posts, channel iron, rocks and junk. I knew good and well if I could just get untangled I could probably stand up.

Thankfully, I could stand up and according to my husband it was more like Godzilla rising from the sea than Venus when I came up sputtering, spitting and saying a good many less than ladylike things.

The irony that this occurred the first day of National Safe Boating Week did not escape me.

We laughed about my lack of grace, my poor balance and my dripping clothes and lifeless phone (of course it was in my shirt pocket) as we headed back to the ramp. But the possibility of what could have happened did not escape me.

I could have been impaled by one of the pieces of metal, (as it was I just received some bruises, scrapes, and one nasty gash/cut on my leg). I could have conked my head on some part of whatever was in that submerged junk pile and been knocked unconscious. We could have been in the main channel, with a much swifter current and lots of debris and logs scooting downriver instead of the shallower and slower moving old channel.

I could have been cavalier and said, “We’re just going to be using the troller, its shallow water, I don’t need my life jacket.”  BUT the rule for me if the boat is floating the PFD is on.  EVERYTIME. No matter what the conditions, if I am on the water I wear my PFD. I travel with my PFD so I have it when I am on friends’ boats. I’m just funny that way.

We bowfishers all know that sooner or later we are going to take a header out of a boat. The floors get slick with blood and slime, we are standing up on elevated shooting decks, we are wrestling with fish often over 30 pounds flapping and flopping flinging themselves around while stuck on the end of an arrow. We bowfish shallow and debris filled waters that often have poor clarity, causing frequent “stump bumps”.  It’s going to happen. You can bet your life on it.

So be prepared and bet in favor of your life and always wear a PFD. I routinely push, harangue, and nag all of my bowfishing friends to wear a PFD all the time, not just when on the main channels of the big rivers, not just when on plane, ALL THE TIME.

The auto inflate or pull inflate collar style PFD’s are an excellent design for bowfishers. They don’t impair shooting or movement in any way. Lightweight, comfortable, and not a bit noticeable, uncomfortable, or interfering with any fun.

The PFD that is our family’s personal favorite is the Bass Pro Shops® Manual Inflatable Life Vest. It features a lightweight, comfortable design with a soft neoprene neckline, reflective piping for enhanced visibility, and durable ripstop nylon fabric. The price is affordable, as is the price for the recharging kits that are needed to re arm it after a use. We also always keep a re arming kit on hand.

Whatever style of PFD you prefer, the important part is to WEAR IT. Don’t just stuff a couple of cheapies under the seat so you are legal. Invest in a well-made, well-fitting PFD and put it on and leave it on!

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Illinois Hunters and Anglers Raise $726,000 through License Purchases

Fri, April 24, 2015

SPRINGFIELD, IL – Illinois hunters and anglers have raised $726,000 for youth hunting and fishing programs since 2006.  This year’s license renewals pushed total donations past the $726,000 mark, and well on the way to a goal of $1 million raised, hopefully sometime in 2019. When licenses are purchased, individuals are asked to make a $5 donation for the Illinois Conservation Foundation.

“Our long-time supporters know that the ICF is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to educating youth about the outdoors,” said ICF Executive Director Eric Schmidt. “We couldn’t do this without the support of so many hunters and anglers who have a vested interest in making sure our children have the same outdoor experiences as we did growing up.”

“Hunters and anglers already support our conservation efforts through their purchases of licenses and stamps,” said Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) Director Wayne Rosenthal. “I’m not surprised that our sportsmen and women have stepped up again to fund the Foundation’s important work to educate the next generation of conservationists.”

As the charitable partner of the IDNR, the ICF serves more than 6,000 children annually at the Torstenson Youth Conservation Education Center (TYCEC) outside of Rockford, where kids are introduced to hunting, camping and nature observation and sustainability on site, often for the first times in their lives.

Youth hunting education around the state includes mentored experiences with deer, turkey, duck, pheasant, dove, goose and squirrel hunts. These hunts are often in partnership with other organizations, such as Ducks Unlimited, the National Wild Turkey Federation and Pheasants Forever.

This spring, thanks to several donors, the ICF will have a brand new fishing pond at the TYCEC. The IDNR will help to fully stock this pond so children who visit the property will have a chance to learn about and experience catch-and-release fishing. Education can also be taken off the property anywhere in the state with the Torstenson Education Station, a mobile classroom equipped with a myriad of hunting and fishing gear available for children to get hands-on experience with.

With a mission of inspiring the next generation of conservation leaders and outdoor sportsmen and women, the ICF uses all funding to support programs such as the ones above. You can learn more about the ICF at www.ilcf.org. Most licenses are renewed in April, May and June. When you go online or to your favorite retailer to renew your fishing license, please consider making that $5 donation to the ICF.

For more information on the ICF, or to arrange individual or corporate support for ICF educational and other programs, contact the Foundation at 217-785-2003 or online at www.ilcf.org.

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Spring Trout Season Makes Anglers Happy

Sun, April 05, 2015

Peabody River King Fish and Wildlife area has always been a southwestern IL hot spot for fall trout in the Catchable Trout Program. This year it was one of the new sites added to the list for spring season and also to the early fly fish catch and release season as well.

A quick visit at Willow Lake yesterday morning at dawn reveled somewhat chilly, but excited anglers. Several were limiting out just as the sun rose.

All of the anglers agreed that the quality and size of the stocked trout were exceptional and that they were very happy that the Spring season had been added to Willow Lake at Peabody River King Fish and Wildlife area.
“I’ve always fished the fall trout season here, and it’s been good but these are so much bigger than what I usually catch in the fall,” said Ian Johnston of Granite City. “The quality of these fish is just super.”


Ian Johnston, Granite City shows us his first three of the morning.

Anglers found a variety of approaches successful. While trout were being taken on minnows, doughballs, and rooster tails, the small rooster tail style spinners seemed to be in the lead for success on Saturday morning. Looks like a few households may be enjoying fresh trout as part of their Easter dinner menu!

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