Giant Goose Ranch

The News Outside

Tales From When I Was a Hunter, Ron Deabenderfer , Mar 11

Midwest Fishing Report, Dale Bowman, Mar 11

Fishing license sales decline over past decade, WQAD DIGITAL TEAM, Mar 10

Canada geese- a traffic concern, Brett Herrmann, Mar 09

Hunting shed antlers, Dale Bowman, Mar 08



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Recent entries


Through the Lens

Shoot For the Heroes

Thu, November 11, 2010

When our wounded and fallen soldiers return home it is often accompanied by a flurry of recognition, ceremonies, and much press coverage. Friends, family, civic organization all step in to lend a hand to offer help.  Sportsmen’s organizations are quick to offer hunts, fishing trips, and support.  But sadly as time passes the initial rush of assistance fades away and our wounded soldiers and the fallen soldiers families are left to continue on alone as they struggle to piece together lives and families after the fact.  This phenomenon was easily recognized by Matthew Cutler, Founder, Director, and President of the Joshua Chamberlain Society.
As the St. Louis metro area attorney began to see and hear the stories following 9/11, and the stories of soldiers who had served in the ensuing wars and operations that have followed 9/11, he felt an increasing need to do something.  : I explored a good many organizations that help our wounded soldiers and their families, and thankfully we have so many out there – but the fit wasn’t right for me. What I kept seeing time and again was after the initial rush of services,  things dwindle and soon these heroes are forgotten.  I wanted to find a way to connect with them on a more personal one on one way and to continue that connection, to build relationships with these soldiers and their families.” That desire led to the founding of the Joshua Chamberlain Society, named for a noted war veteran who lived with the scars, wounds and trauma he endured in the Civil War.
The most notable difference between the Joshua Chamberlain Society and other organizations that support our heroes is that the Joshua Chamberlain Society makes a lifetime commitment to the soldiers and families that it adopts.  While the Society does offer financial assistance – for any number of things, they also assist the veterans in negotiating the services available to them through the VA and other community outreach services.  They form friendships and bond with their heroes.  “We visit, hang out, grab lunch – these heroes are part of our families and our assistance isn’t limited to just say – adaptive equipment, or transportation to appointments – It’s whatever we determine the hero or his family might need. It might be something as small as a gas card to help defray the costs of long distance trips for treatment or just meeting with our heroes to hang out, watch a ballgame and visit.  We adopt them for life and we are committed to them.” Said Cutler. The Joshua Chamberlain Society strives give any average person, and everyday soul who cares about our heroes to have an avenue to offer support, whether it’s in the form of a fund raiser by local civic organization or on a more personal level, volunteering to provide transport to appointments,  taking a hero out for lunch and some hang time..offering help to go hunting or fishing, anything that supports the heroes is welcomed.
This commitment was evident at the recent Shoot for the Heroes event hosted by the Chamberlain Society recently at the Black Hawk Valley Hunt club in Old Monroe, Missouri.  40 Teams of shooters from across the Midwest descended upon the grounds to help raise funds for the Society, along with the challenging sporting clay tournament, participants enjoyed auctions both silent and live, raffles, and a number of other fund raising activities.  “We netted right at 45,000.00 from this event,” said Cutler “we had 190 shooters step up to ‘Shoot for the Heroes’. The best part though was seeing others become aware and enthused about helping our country’s heroes and we are now working with several other organizations to host different fund raisers and hopefully an additional Shoot for the Heroes event on the Illinois side of the river for next year. “ Most importantly, the event helped to build relationships, and friendships, and show the heroes that those of us here at home really do appreciate and care about them. For life. For More information about the Joshua Chamberlain Society and how you can help, visit

Scenes from the moving and emotional day “shooting for the heroes”

Warrior - a fierce young gun dog who was the Mascot for the day.

Participants throughout the day - both active duty military and civilians alike stood side by side to honor the heroes

Most importantly - the heroes that the Chamberlain Society serves.

To all of our past and present armed services members - this “Marine Mom” salutes you.



Kids and Quail!

Thu, November 11, 2010

The weather couldn’t have been more perfect if it had been special ordered. A crisp layer of frost had settled onto the well managed and well maintained property of Dan Hecht,  Quail Forever member and one of the many sponsors of the annual youth hunt. The sun warmed up the field quickly and the nearly 50 youth who attend were anxiously milling around enjoying each others company while they had a nice breakfast provided by the group. The youth were chattering away in wide eyed excitement as they pondered whether or not they would leave the field in a vest with bird in it. Those who had hunted before regaled the newcomers with stories about previous hunts, enjoying the status of being experienced hunters despite their young ages.  I was thankful that Scott Huschle of DownRiver Outdoors had invited me to tag along with him and his son Zachary for the day.  When I’m at the youth hunts and events, it’s as if I am experiencing it all for the first time myself as I watch it through the young folks eyes and listen to the excited conversations.

Following registration and breakfast, the youth were treated to basic gun safety, field safety and shooting lessons using clay birds. The volunteers and sponsors were scattered throughout the property, all with one goal in mind - to insure that each and every youth had a positive upland bird hunting experience.  Following the practice shooting, the youth had a brief pre hunt meeting with several of the sponsors and volunteers taking the time to explain exactly how the hunt would work, the importance of gun safety in the field, and the importance of working and hunting safely with dogs afield.

Event Organizer, Host and Sponsor Dan Hecht, said that at the first hunt 4 years ago, the group introduced 20 youth to the sport of upland bird hunting and the need for strong conservation efforts,  “By this year we were up to 50 participants!” Hecht smiled broadly. He became thoughtful when he added, ” We did have to scratch a few kids though, they had not completed their hunter safety course, and we require that to be a participant. ”

Safety and conservation were constant topics of conversation while in the field. The youth received informal lessons in habitat, habitat management, and safely hunting over dogs as they walked the fields with the volunteer dog handlers and sponsors.

Once afield, the youth had the opportunity watch some of best bird dogs in Illinois work the fields and ehlp the to harvest both quail and pheasant.  Following their hunt afield the youth were treated to a visit with Chief AJ; designer of the HFX slingshot who gave the youth lessons in slingshot use and hunting with a sling shot.

By the time the tired, hungry, and succesful hunters trudged to the hall for lunch, each had better grasp of why quail and all upland game mangagement and habitat conservation is vitally important, they had seen first hand how proper habitat                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     combined with a well trained dog, and the right conditions can net a vest full of birds.  I have to wonder if perhaps more than one of these will someday be a volunteer leading a young person on thier first quail hunt, or better yet, become a biologist, conservationalist, or Quail Forever staff member. We never know when we take the time to introduce a young person to the outdoors just how the seed we plant will grow, but we do know it will grow !!

What it’s all about! Participant Zachary Huschle with his father Scott Huschle of Downriver Outdoors Proudly displays his first success as an upland bird hunter



Missouri Elk

Mon, November 08, 2010

Over the river and through the woods to Grandmothers house we go - well in this case it was Grandmother who was traveling over the river and through the woods to do a little visiting with my niece who resides in Missouri. We’d had a conversation earlier in the week about Missouri reintroducing elk into the wild in the Mark Twain National Forest,  and my niece suggested since I had “elk on the brain” we make a trip to Lone Elk Park to see if the elk were starting to hit rut yet. We weren’t able to catch any of the big boys sparring, or even out of the deep timber for that matter, but we were still able to view and photograph a few who were out stirring around.

Lone Elk Park is great place to view not only elk, but bison, whitetail deer, turkeys and a large assortment of wildlife. The perimeter of the 405 acre park is fenced, however it’s considered a wildlife management area and the bison and elk are roaming free within the park boundries and are considered a managed wild population.

The park has been designed with excellent drive through areas, with conveniently located pull offs for viewing the wildlife as well as hiking trails for those wishing a more up close view.  It should be noted though, no foot travel is allowed within the “Bison Area” due to the unpredictable nature of the bison,  and plenty of warning signs are present to warn visitors of the dangers present with the elk, especially during mating and calving season.

I can personally attest to the unpredictability of the elk. Last year while hiking there I failed to see a calf resting in a draw, as I topped the edge of the draw to make a descent into it - an old cow came charging at me stopping about a foot in front of me, blowing, snorting and stomping.  Heart stopping moment! Although I think it was actually only about a 15 minute stand off, with me stepping back from her one very very slow step at a time it seemed like it lasted hours being nose to nose with that mad old mama.

Keeping the unpredictability of the wildlife in mind, it is still a wonderful place to visit for wildlife viewing and photography.  An added bonus is the World Bird Sanctuary that is immediately adjacent to the park.  For anyone making a trip to the St. Louis area, especially when travelling to Bass Pro and Cabela’s - a great way to round out the trip is a drive through Lone Elk.  Even better , schedule enough time for a short hike, and a visit to the World Bird Sanctuary and have a picnic lunch in one of the nicely maintained shelters there.