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Recent entries


Through the Lens

Time to Fill The Science Bucket

Fri, December 03, 2010

Who doesn’t love it when a little guy looks at you with big blue eyes and says “Pleeeease.. Can we go to the woods? I have to fill my science bucket.”  At the preschool my little pal Restin attends they have science bucket on Fridays. Each young student gets a turn to take the science bucket home and fill it with nifty things for show and tell and Science Friday. It was no surprise to me that Restin chose things from the woods.  He’s been going to the woods since he was an infant tucked into a snugly under his father’s jacket.  Even though he’s only 3 – “ I am almost 4!Stop saying I am 3!”  -  he’s already becoming knowledgeable about the outdoors.

Restin and his woods companion Nanook off in search of treasures

As we got ready to head out in search of things for his bucket, he reminded me that we have to wear orange because it’s hunting season and we didn’t want to end up “shot in the butt - We can’t look like deer!”  Over the fence in into his personal playground of oaks and hickories we went. Again he reminded me to “be careful..These things on the fence will stick you and hurt” referring to the barbed wire.

The next sticky thing we had to navigate was the briar patch – “Be very careful. Step on them to make them lay down or they will scratch you up and hurt you.  Gretchen- you are going to get hurt by them! Don’t grab that with your hand” he admonished me when I grabbed a handful of wild rose to help him collect rose hips.  He proudly explained to his Nana when we returned home that the rose hips “are for tea when you have a cold. They have lots of vitamin C!”

Nanook and Restin can “hurry up the mountain” but this old gal was in amble mode

It wasn’t long before he was urging me to hurry up “the mountain”. Hurrying up the mountain is a feat far easier for three year old legs than 49 year old legs.  Thankfully there was no one hunting that piece of woods, because his demonstration of coyote, owl, turkey and wolf calling would have sent every wild creature running for the hills.  But the woods Gods were smiling and after a little work on his owl call we did get one to answer!

Nanook doing a little calling of her own to bring her young charge back into range

There were mushrooms; turkey tails, artist polypores, old chicken of the woods - “You can’t eat these now..see they are yucky and have black spots. They have to be orange like my hat!”  -  All tumbled into his bucket.

Next came the feathers…turkey, pheasant, blue jay, red tail, and harrier – along with a lesson on why each bird’s feather was different and why the birds required different types of feathers.  We talked about why it’s important to be friends with a CPO, and when and why we call the CPO to report finding treasures like the skull and antlers that his dog Nanook graciously brought to us.

The skull that Nanook was thoughtful enough to share

There were nuts, pecans, walnuts, acorns and hickory – in all stages. Restin knows that squirrels like the nuts, and the deer love to eat acorns.  “But not the hats on the acorns. They must taste bad because nothing ever eats them up”
We poked in the snake holes and decided they were hibernating for winter, “But they will come out and get warm in the sun.”
There were Christmas ferns, lichens and moss “Look it’s like a whole teeny forest with baby trees” he exclaimed as he was nose to nose with a large patch of moss on the creek bank.
Soon we were wearing out and it was time to head to the house and catalog his treasures, bones, skulls, teeth, feathers, mushrooms, a wasp nest – so many great things to take to show his classmates. When his uncle and adopted grandpa stopped by to see how the foray went he had so many things to spread out on the floor and explain, so many little things that are treasures to my young outdoorsman, not only now but hopefully forever.


Sometimes You Have to Wait

Sun, November 21, 2010

When nine year old Lainey Deterding of New Athens told her mother and hunting partner Renee that she was going to get a buck, she was dead serious. Despite the heavy fog and slightly inclement weather Saturday morning Lainey headed out like a trooper. While Lainey had hunted small game with her mother, father and brother, and passed her Hunter Safety Course when she was a mere 7, this was the first year that Lainey took to the stand as gun hunter. Lainey is no stranger to the outdoors; it’s something that her whole family enjoys.  She has been accompanying her parents and older brother on hunting excursions and time in the woods scouting, checking trail cameras and just enjoying their time afield together. Her parents, Dean and Renee Deterding, feel strongly that frequent exposure to the outdoors and outdoor activities like hunting and fishing help teach young people about safety, responsibility, ethics, conservation and more. The Deterdings also feel that their children are physically healthier as a result of an active, healthy lifestyle that goes hand in hand with a love of the outdoors.

A cheerful, articulate, and well spoken young lady, Lainey shared the story of her successful first time out with me.  First a doe came in under the stand.  Lainey recalled, “When Mom said there’s a doe, I said no I don’t want a doe. I want a buck.”  With more resolve and self control than many adults could have displayed, she waited.

Because Lainey has spent a great deal of time in the outdoors and because she had been accompanying her family on previous years deer hunts, Lainey knew that a buck would likely not be far behind. “We were right over a scrape you see…”  In an almost studious manner Lainey shared with me her knowledge of deer behavior, as she reveled in telling the story of her morning. Her patience was rewarded when the large fellow came into view “I told Mom,” Lainey grinned as she thought about when she first caught sight of the buck, “I’ll shoot that!” Once again Lainey waited as the buck worked his way into an acceptable shooting range.

After waiting what seemed like an eternity the buck was on the scrape 30 yards from Lainey.  Confident that the buck was in a place that she could make a good clean shot, Lainey successfully harvested her first Illinois Whitetail.  The buck ran approximately twenty yards and disappeared into the dense fog that had rolled in. So Lainey waited yet once again for 45 minutes, still in her stand in hopes that the deer would not travel far. Because the fog had gotten so dense, neither Lainey nor her mother wanted to risk spooking the big boy and sending him deeper into the fog. “So we waited, and waited, and it seemed like 2 years,” sighed Lainey.

At last Lainey was able to hop down from her stand and find her deer just where she was sure she’d heard him fall.
“There’s one on the wall at my house just about like this, but I think mine’s bigger “Lainey giggled.





The “Other” Golden Triangle

Sun, November 21, 2010

Travis Engelage of Randolph County with his two for success on opening day

We’ve all heard about Illinois Golden Triangle - the west central counties of Adams, Brown, and Pike, but some southern Illinois deer hunters are of the opinion that they have their own Golden Triangle in Washington, Perry, and Randolph counties.

While I don’t have any statistics handy this morning to actually compare the two what I do have is another success story - a “two for” success story.

Travis Engelage has been an outdoorsman and hunter as long as I can remember. One of my favorite memories of Travis is when he was just small boy and arrived on my doorstep to ask if I’d take a picture of his big mushroom - his big mushroom turned out to be a hen of the woods that topped 50 pounds and missed the state record by mere ounces.  As I recall that mushroom was nearly bigger than Travis. He’d shot a squirrel on what he thought was a pile of leaves and was more than excited when he retrieved the squirrel from the “pile of leaves” that had to be cut in half to fit in the washtub in his step dads truck.

Although, it’s difficult to know what Engelage’s buck this year would have originally scored , due to the three tines that had been broken off in a battle or two, it didn’t dampen his feeling of success.

If only those three tines weren’t broken off…

Friday went pretty good he told me - “I had the buck down within minutes of legal shooting time. He came wandering through the timber right to me.”
Although he was successful in Washington county Friday morning, he tried his luck near a field in Perry county for his afternoon hunt. Again Engleage hadn’t been sitting long when 13 does with two bucks chasing came into the field.  “It was right on the money 2pm exactly when I shot the doe. ” 

All in all Engelage has been filling his freezer this year as he also had success with a small buck   during his archery season. 

Engelage understands the importance of introducing youth to the outdoors. It won’t be long and his little one Emilia will be joining him in the stand and in the woods replicating her dad’s successes.