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Midwest Summer Fishing Report, Dale Bowman , Jul 21

Ticks are becoming growing problem, Jeremiah Haas, Jul 19

Lake Iroquois Huge Fish Kill, Kenya Ramirez, Jul 19

The Science behind Fish Oil Supplements, NPR Illinois, Jul 19

Redear Sunfish Record, Dale Bowman , Jul 19



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Recent entries


Through the Lens

We’re Looking for Birds

Mon, November 15, 2010

I’m Looking For Birds! It’s Serious Business!

Willie is learning - like any good dog he’s catching on to reading my moods and learning to respond. I won’t go so far to say he’s always responding appropriately, but at least he’s making headway. It was tough a weekend for poor little Will - he got his “Service Dog In Training Vest” . He immediately demonstrated his superior intelligence by promptly removing it every 30 seconds or so for the first couple of hours. Finally after a battle of the wills he relented and figured out that he was just stuck with the atrocious looking thing.  Because the majority of our travels are in the field I decided that the standard spiffy red or blue might not be the best and we went with a blaze orange with reflective stripes. Willie is not impressed with the choice. In an effort to demonstrate his displeasure the stinker shredded a couch cushion and carted my hunting boots off to the fountain while I was in the shower.

Since Willie was being such a rambunctious guy I though perhaps a good romp through the fields chasing his bumpers would maybe settle the little hyperactive snot down a bit. Maybe we would even get lucky and kick up a few quail.

I gathered up his training lead and he came running… “Let’s go look for birds Will”  I told him. The word bird is already sending him into a spinning tail wagging frenzy so he raced off to the door and parked himself at his “wait” spot, giving me that look that says…“Hurry up! I want to go find birds! Birds! you said BIRD!”

Alas - we didn’t kick up any quail, even though Willie had great time blundering through the fields and chasing mice, foxtails and other little errant bits and pieces of things he stumbled upon in the dog fields.

“I will not pose nicely. Thank heavens there are no other dogs here to see me in this ridiculous get up”

Over the hill I could here the evening crowd of waterfowl starting to stir - listening closely I could hear specks, canadas, and snows. I could here a maelstrom of various ducks. Okay Willie - let’s go find the birds!

There we go with that bird word again….

We were treated to a full complement of waterfowl - the numbers had come up at least 20% from the previous days. We watched a pair of Eagles feed on the lake - time and time again diving and snatching up small fish. Wille sat quietly, minding his manners while group after group of duck and geese lifted of the lake headed to where ever it they go at dusk.  Wide eyed he’d watch cocking his head this way that - repeatedly looking at me as if to say “aren’t I supposed to be doing something about these flying squawking things over my head? Can’t I just run amok and see how many I can catch? ”

As the light dwindled down to the golden glow of sunset we headed back to the car. Suddenly a doe came crashing through the Russian olives. “Willie stop! Settle!”  I just knew there’s would be a buck hot on her tail and indeed there was - before I could even think about getting the camera ready a big 10 point toady looking fella came crashing out of the shrubbery and stopped suddenly. I’m not sure who was more startled - the buck or Willie and I!
The big old guy stomped a little, snorted a little and gave us the eye.. Willie just quivered and turned his head from one side to the other in that quizzical manner that makes all puppies so adorable - before I could get another “settle” out of my mouth, Willie found some courage and let out a little guy version of “I’m a big bad dog” bark and the buck flew into the Russian olives on the other side of us - deciding I’m sure that we were nut jobs and thinking, the poor dog.. having to wear that orange vest…

Of course NOT the big buck but a couple young ones we ran into as well

I should add the the minute the buck took wheeled around to break and the minute the bark was out his little snappy, alligator, teeth with feet, mouth Willie immediately ran behind me, possibly realizing that a big bucks hooves were something he didn’t want any part of!

After a short chat about not barking at deer, not barking when we are in the woods, Willie happily marched back towards the car where he landed exhausted in his seat..

While we probably accomplished very little training, we did accomplish more socialization, and we cemented in his head a little more that “BIRDS!” are a good thing and the more birds we find the happier we both are! 



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