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Through the Lens

Bow Hunting Now Allowed During Firearm Season

Wed, November 16, 2016

Beginning this year, the new rule regarding archery hunting during firearm season takes effect. The following was provided by IL DNR Conservation Police :


The Illinois Department of Natural Resources would like to remind hunters of a new rule change. Archery devices legal for the first half of the archery deer season are now a legal device to be used during the firearm deer season if hunting private property. Furthermore:
- Crossbows may only be used by those with a valid crossbow permit or by persons age 62 and older.
- Hunters must be in possession of a valid firearm permit. Archery permits are not valid during the firearm deer season.
- Archery devices may only be used by hunters legally hunting private property, and does not extend to IDNR hunting areas
- An archery device may not be used to fill a firearm permit during the late-Winter Antlerless deer season





It’s pretty cut and dried, but it has generated a firestorm of confusion among many hunters. In a nutshell, those who are in possession of a valid firearm tag may use a legal archery device to fill that tag during firearm season if hunting private land.

As always if unsure about a regulation it’s always best to contact your local Conservation Police Officer for clarification.

(3) COMMENTS

Safe Roads could devastate IDNR

Tue, November 01, 2016

It’s no secret to anyone that has spoken with me in the last few weeks that I have a bee in my bonnet over the proposed Safe Roads Amendment. This morning I received this very well thought out and to the point missive from Retired Fisheries Chief Debbie Bruce. Ms. Bruce served as Fisheries Chief from 2011 -2015.

“NOVEMBER 8TH SAFE ROADS CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT PLEASE VOTE NO!!!
HERE’S WHY (SOME EXCEPTS FROM CAPITOL OUTDOORS, OCT. 24TH):

The Safe Roads Amendment, at first blush sounds great, but it will have many unintended consequences!  All transportation-related revenue (gas tax, license plate fees, motor vehicle registration fees, vehicle title transfers) will only be used for roads, streets, highways, bridges and mass transit.  Sounds great, but if passed will remove the funding provided in the Sustainability Bill that you worked so hard to pass in 2012.

This will devastate the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, particularly State Parks and the three State Fish Hatcheries.

• Senate Bill 1566 of the 97th General Assembly (2012-2013), the sustainability bill for the Illinois DNR increased Vehicle Registration fees by $2 per year (amounting to $20 million annually).  This revenue funds State Parks Staff and is helping to fix crumbling park infrastructure.  Loss of this funding will mean layoff of DNR personnel and closure of many state parks/conservation areas.

• In addition, fees collected on vehicle title transfers provide funding for the Illinois Fish Management Fund ($1.7 million/yr.)  and for trail development and maintenance in our state parks/conservation areas.  Loss of the Illinois Fish Management Fund will potentially mean our three state fish hatcheries will be closed.  At a minimum it will reduce or eliminate the production of Salmon or Trout for Lake Michigan, Muskie, and up to 13 other fish species stocked into State and Public Lakes.  Loss of this funding will also result in a reduction of the Catchable Trout Program and the Urban Fishing Program throughout the entire state.  Loss of funds to the Parks and Conservation Fund will greatly impact trails, including bike trails, and maintenance.

THE PROPOSED FISCAL YEAR 2017 BUDGET FOR DNR DOES NOT CONTAIN ANY PROVISIONS FOR REPLACING THIS LOST FUNDING FOR FISHERIES AND STATE PARKS.  THE FACT THAT THE DNR IS ALREADY OPERATING WITH ONLY 50% STAFFING IS A TRAVESTY.  DO NOT ALLOW THE PROPOSED SAFE ROADS CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT TO PUT OUR STATE PARKS, TRAILS, AND STATE FISH HATCHERIES IN GREAT PERIL.  STATE LEGISLATORS ALREADY HAVE THE POWER TO MAKE ROAD FUNDING A PRIORITY IF THEY SO WISH. 

VOTE NO ON THE PROPOSED SAFE ROADS CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT ON NOVEMBER 8th AND ASK ALL YOUR FRIENDS TO DO THE SAME VIA E-MAIL, FACEBOOK, ETC.”

 

I could not agree with Ms. Bruce more on this issue and I implore all sportsmen and women in IL to take a very long hard look at what we stand to lose should this amendment pass. We fought to hard and too long for the Sustainability Bill, to see those much needed dollars simply be locked up and spent in a way that no one could have envisioned. These funds were never intended for use for highway projects, yet that’s exactly what will happen if this amendment passes.

Our IDNR is already struggling, let’s not vote for an amendment that could be it’s death knell.

(6) COMMENTS

Mushroom Jerky

Sat, October 15, 2016

For most in the Midwest, autumn means big bucks, the early days of deer season, and all things whitetail. Forest foragers know that late autumn also means the mushrooming season for the most part is coming to a close; however, there remains one last great treat for those perusing the autumn woods… One last great big, giant, treat because, those glorious autumn days are when you can find a fruiting of Hen of the Woods (Grifola frondosa) as big as forty or fifty pounds.

Yes, I said forty or fifty pounds, in one mushroom. The largest I have harvested weighed 49.3 pounds. Yes, you read that correctly, a single mushroom weighing in at almost 50 pounds! Now that’s more enough mushroom for eating fresh and for putting up for the rest of the year.

Grifola frondosa can fruit anytime from mid September to late October and seems to be triggered by the first cold nights of the end of summer. As I am out scouting deer, acorn crops, waterfowl etc.  In late September you can also bet I’m checking those oaks for Hen of the Woods.  It is found mostly with dead or dying oak trees, though I have also found them under maples along creek and river banks.

While this year hasn’t been a banner year in my neighborhood, because it’s been so darn dry there have still been enough that I have coolers full on the porch, the dehydrator racks a full and running overtime, the fridge can’t hold even one more and we are eating them at every meal.

Hen of the Woods is my personal all-time favorite. It’s flavor is deep and earthy and holds up well to almost any cooking style or combination. Additionally, even one or two good sized ones can yield a whole lot of mushroom goodness both fresh and preserved for the coming year.

I am always on the lookout for new ways to prepare and preserve hen of the woods. Just last week a Facebook friend, Bill Kulschbach of Dunlap, posted that he had hen of the woods jerky in the dehydrator. Say what? Mushroom Jerky?

I went on an internet search and low and behold found several different recipes, and decided to give it a whirl.  Admittedly, all I used from the recipes was the basic process. I fiddled and finagled a marinade recipe of my own.

It was not without a little trepidation that I put a test batch on the dehydrator. I thought to myself, this is one of those things that will either be really good or so bad that even the coons won’t touch it.

Luckily, it turned out to be really good! So good in fact, I nearly had to wrestle the bag of samples away from several taste testers in the neighborhood, and the bulk of the test batch ended up in the field with my dearly beloved while he was combining and planting wheat.

Now that I’ve run a couple more batches, and actually formulated a recipe using measured ingredients instead of my usual slap, dash, and splash method of cooking, it’s time to share this treat with the Heartland community.

One of the great parts about this is that the giant “core” that most large hens have can also be used in the recipe so every part of mushroomy goodness is used with little to no waste.

Hen of the Woods Jerky –
One medium sized hen of the woods
2 cups apple cider
¼ cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon liquid smoke
1 tablespoon spicy brown mustard
2 tablespoons sweet Asian chili sauce
1 quarter cup maple syrup (I have been using an apple butter flavor infused maple syrup that is marvelous and available at Aldi’s, but regular works just fine)
3 Tablespoons McCormick Grill Mates Applewood Rub
3 Tablespoons McCormick Grill Mates Smokehouse Maple
Salt and Pepper to taste

Clean and prepare hen of the woods by removing the “petals” and cut into as much of a uniform size as possible. After removing the outer layers and petals, thinly slice the core, again trying to maintain uniformity for drying times. Save the smaller fronds/petals/trimmings to make Hen of the Woods Spread (recipe follows this one).

Place the mushroom pieces in boiling water for 10 minutes.

While mushrooms are boiling prepare marinade by mixing all other ingredients together. Whisk or blends marinade to fully incorporate all ingredients.

After mushrooms have boiled for ten minutes, drain and place hot mushrooms and marinade in a nonreactive container or plastic bag and let marinate for 8-12 hours.

After marinating for at least 8 hours, place mushroom pieces on a dehydrator and dry at 145 for 8-12 hours. (Drying times will vary based on thickness of mushrooms and personal preference for chewiness, crispiness etc.)  Store in an airtight jar or vacuum seal.  I honestly can’t tell you how long this can be stored. It doesn’t seem to last long enough around here for me to accurately gauge. I would think though, that you might want to use it up fairly soon, or place in the fridge or freezer.

Hen of the Woods Mushroom Spread

This is a takeoff of the black trumpet spread I shared earlier this year, and it’s even better! The full earthy, mushroomy flavor come through much better with Hen of the Woods.  A dab of this and slice of deer or goose sausage on cracker and you have a treat is so tasty! Heck you can even use a piece of the mushroom jerky for dipping a bit of spread for the full mushroom experience!

1 8oz package cream cheese cut in to roughly 12 squares
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 tablespoon butter
¼ cup finely minced red onion
1 cup finely chopped hen of the woods mushroom
Chardonnay for deglazing.

Using a heavy skillet, (I prefer cast iron) melt butter and stir in onions first to sauté until clear and beginning to brown and crisp up a bit, add mushrooms and sauté until they have cooked through and sweated down. Add a splash of chardonnay to deglaze and get all the good little bits loosened. Cook off any remaining liquid.  Add in the cream cheese, stirring until all is melted, and all bits of onion and mushroom are fully incorporated. Transfer to a container (I use wide mouth half pint jars) and place in fridge. Remove from fridge a bit before serving so that it can soften for spreading.

For more about Hen of the woods and other recipes, please visit these previous posts!

http://wwocz.net/gretchen-hen-of-the-woods-mushrooms-a-foragers-delight/

http://www.heartlandoutdoors.com/gretchen/story/holy_hens_a_poppin/

 

 

(6) COMMENTS

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