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Recent entries


Through the Lens

Gear Review: Field And Stream Women’s Every Hunt Clothing

Mon, April 17, 2017

At the onset of hunting season last fall I was given the opportunity to field test some items from the Field Stream Women’s Every Hunt Line.

It’s no secret that women are the fastest growing segment of new hunters, but it remains difficult for many women to find adequate hunting attire.

When asked, “What women want in hunting attire?” the answer is short. We want the same things that men want, flexibility, durability, great functionality, and most of all a good fit. The next hurdle women often face is finding affordable gear. It’s hard for many new hunters to plunk down 2-300 dollars for a coat or 150 - 200 dollars for a pair of good pants.  I’ve long wished for a moderately priced yet well-made and functional line of clothes that women just beginning to explore hunting would feel comfortable purchasing. 

The Field and Stream Women’s Every Hunt line of apparel has met those goals – and I might add, without slapping pink all over things!

The items I field tested throughout the entire season were Field and Stream’s Women’s Every Hunt Softshell Pants and the Field & Stream Women’s C3 Midweight Mock Neck Base Layer Shirt The pants have proven to be absolutely the most comfortable pair of hunting pants I have ever worn. They are as comfortable as hunting in a pair of pajama pants! Same with the shirt – comfort is key for me for long days in the field and the shirt makes an excellent addition to anyone’s collection of hunting clothes.

The Field & Stream Women’s C3 Midweight Mock Neck Base Layer Shirt features NOSCENT™ C3 technology with antimicrobial and Zeolite scent control which provides an extra measure of scent control. SMARTWICK™ fabric wicks moisture away from your body for a dry, comfortable feel. The interior of the shirt is a very soft and comfortable almost fleecy like material that kept me warm under just a hoodie on most days. The Thumb holes are an especially welcome addition to keep sleeves from bunching up. This shirt became my winter go to base layer as the season wore on.

The Women’s Every Hunt Softshell pant feature quiet bonded fleece with a 2-way stretch for mobility. They are indeed very giving with mobility, I could bend, stretch, squat, climb and manage to wallow around and get myself in several messes without ever feeling like the pants were binding, too snug, or not forgiving. These pants are indeed very quiet – despite all my thrashing and crashing around in the blind and the brush there were no crinkles and crackles, and extraneous noise from the pants.

The waistband on these pants is somewhat wider than my other hunting pants, and with elastic inserts on the sides provides a snug no gap fit, that expands easily and remains comfortable when adding an extra layer underneath. The wider waistband also makes for a bit wider belt loops, that make easier to add a good sturdy belt. I like to hang things off my belt, and often find pants have too narrow of a waistband and belt loops to accommodate my wider sturdy belt.

I also preferred the elastic inserts in the waist band over those annoying adjustable tabby things that never stay in place, get caught on things , and ultimately fail me every time.

I was pleasantly surprised to see how warm the pants were despite not being at all bulky or heavy. They were not too warm and heavy in the warm early season and during spring turkey hunting weather, yet provided plenty of warmth when paired with a base layer such as Field & Stream Women’s Base Defense Midweight Mock Neck Base Layer Shirt and Leggings during colder days afield. 

The front pockets are deep and large enough to hold a fair number of items without risking loss, including a large smartphone. Not only are the front pockets deep enough to be useful, the openings are cut wide enough it’s not a struggle to get your hand in out.

The additional zippered cargo pockets on the legs also are roomy and afford the added protection of a zippered closing so nothing is at risk of tumbling out.  The back pockets feature a flap closure and are of good useful size as well.

With the bonus of NoScent™ C3 Scent Control Technology to assist in containing and concealing odors and Hydro Repel™ fabric to keep you dry, these pants are a versatile, comfortable, functional item that I can easily give a full five stars.  The only improvement I could think of would be to either add side zippers to legs for ease getting boots on and off, or a drawstring bottom that could be cinched up around the boot to help keep out drafts.

Both pieces performed well with frequent trips through the washer and dryer and after a long busy season in the field nearly every day, still come out of the dryer looking and feeling like new. Big thumbs up for durability!

Field and Stream Women’s Every Hunt Softshell Pants and C3 Midweight Mock Neck Base Layer Shirt have convinced me that now I need be “on the hunt” for one of Every Hunt jackets for a complete combination that truly does work well throughout the varied conditions hunters face from beginning of season until end.  I highly recommend both pieces for the woman who is looking for durable, comfortable, technical and affordable hunting clothing without breaking the bank.

Field and Stream Women’s Every Hunt apparel can be purchased at Dicks Sporting Goods, both online and in retail stores. 


IDNR Announces Schedule of Waterfowl Blind Site Drawings

Sun, April 09, 2017

SPRINGFIELD, IL – Waterfowl hunters are encouraged to mark their calendars for upcoming waterfowl hunting blind site random drawings to be held at several public hunting areas in Illinois in June, July and August.

Duck and goose hunters must register in person for waterfowl blind site drawings and must be present at the drawing – held at each location designated below immediately after the registration period – to claim their blind sites.  Mail-in registrations are not accepted.  Unless otherwise stated, blind allocations for these sites are good for one year.

To participate in a drawing, all applicants must present a 2016 or 2017 regular Illinois hunting license (no apprentice or youth license), a 2016 or 2017 Illinois Migratory Waterfowl Stamp at the time they register, unless exempted by law, and valid photo identification. Applicants must be at least 16 years old by the date of the drawing.

Applicants needing to purchase new licenses and stamps should do so prior to the drawing.  Most blind drawing locations will not have license sales available.  Licenses and stamps are available at any DNR Direct license and permit vendor, through the IDNR website at or by, calling 1-888-6-PERMIT (1-888-673-7648).

Registrants are no longer required to possess a valid Illinois Firearm Owner’s Identification (FOID) card from the Illinois State Police to participate in blind drawings. Also, in order to be an eligible applicant for the drawing, the participant must not have his or her hunting privileges suspended or revoked by the IDNR or any other jurisdiction at the time of the drawing.  Out-of-state residents must have a 2016 or 2017 non-resident hunting license for Illinois and a 2016 or 2017 Illinois Migratory Waterfowl Stamp. 

Note:  The photo ID requirement for all applicants is a new rule for this year’s drawings.

The schedule for 2017 blind drawings is listed below:

SUNDAY, JUNE 4, 2017 (Blinds allocated for three years)

• Horseshoe Lake State Park, Madison County: Picnic shelters 1 and 2 located near the site main entrance.

• Mississippi River SFWA – Batchtown and nearby Mississippi River blinds: Batchtown Ball Diamond, in Batchtown.

• Mississippi River SFWA – Calhoun Point and Illinois River Blinds: Brussels Community Park, by school and ball diamond in Brussels.

• Mississippi River SFWA – Fuller Lake: Brussels Community Park, by school and ball diamond in Brussels.

• Mississippi River SFWA – Glades/12 Mile Island: Alton Wood River Sportsmen Club, 3109 Godfrey Rd., Godfrey, IL

• Mississippi River SFWA – Godar/Diamond: Calhoun County Fairgrounds, North of Hardin on RT. 100.

• Mississippi River SFWA – Helmbold Slough: Brussels Community Park, by school and ball diamond in Brussels.

• Mississippi River SFWA – Piasa Island: Alton Wood River Sportsmen Club, 3109 Godfrey Rd., Godfrey, IL

• Mississippi River SFWA – Red’s Landing: Calhoun County Fairgrounds, North of Hardin on RT. 100.

• Mississippi River SFWA – Rip Rap Landing: Calhoun County Fairgrounds, North of Hardin on RT. 100.

• Mississippi River SFWA – Stump Lake: Alton Wood River Sportsmen Club, 3109 Godfrey Rd., Godfrey, IL

SUNDAY, JULY 16, 2017 (Blinds allocated for two years)

• Mississippi River Pool 21 and Pool 22: registration 10 a.m. - noon at the Twin Oaks Sportsman’s Club, 2707 Bonansinga Dr., Quincy. 

• Mississippi River Pool 24 registration 10 a.m. - noon at the Illinois Department of Natural Resources Office, Route 106 West, Pittsfield.

SATURDAY, JULY 29, 2017 (Blinds allocated for one year)

• Chain O’ Lakes State Park and Redwing Slough/Deer Lake State Natural Area, Lake County: registration for both sites 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. at Oak Point day use area, 1/5 mile east of the Fox River on the south side of Illinois Route 173. Hunters will be allowed to register for only one of the two sites.

• Des Plaines State Fish and Wildlife Area, Will County:  registration 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. at the site office, two miles northwest of Wilmington off exit 241 on Interstate 55.

• Kankakee River State Park and Momence Wetlands, Kankakee and Will Counties: registration 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. for both sites at the Kankakee River State Park office, five miles northwest of Bourbonnais on Illinois Route 102.  Hunters will be allowed to register for only one of the two sites.

• Mazonia State Fish and Wildlife Area, Grundy County:  registration 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. at the site office just off Illinois Route 53, two miles southeast of Braceville.

• Shabbona Lake State Recreation Area, DeKalb County:  registration 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. at the park office.  Directions - go 2½ miles south of Shabbona on Shabbona Road, turn east on Shabbona Grove Road and go ½ mile (office is on left side of the road).

• Sinnissippi Lake, Whiteside County: registration 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. at Harry Oppold Marina, on Stouffer Road on the east edge of Sterling.

• William Powers State Recreation Area, Cook County: registration 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. at the boat launch, 126th St. and Ave. 0, Chicago.

SUNDAY, JULY 30, 2017 (Blinds allocated for one year)

• Anderson Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area, Fulton County: registration 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. at the area check station, 13½ miles southwest of Havana on Illinois Route 100.

• Clear Lake, Mason County:  registration 10a.m. - 2 p.m. at Sand Ridge State Forest Headquarters, 25799E CTY RD.  2300N, Forest City.  Phone (309) 597-2212.  Follow the signs from Manito or Forest City.

• Lake DePue State Fish and Wildlife Area, Bureau County: registration
10 a.m. - 2 p.m. at Oak Grove Park, ¾ miles west of DePue on Illinois Route 29.

• Marshall State Fish and Wildlife Area including the Sparland Unit, Marshall County: registration 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. at the area check station, five miles south of Lacon on Illinois Route 26.

• Meredosia Lake in Morgan and Cass Counties (allocated for 2 years):  registration 12 noon - 2 p.m. at the Jim Edgar Panther Creek Hunter Check-In Building (located adjacent to the JEPC site office, approximately 7 miles southeast of Chandlerville), 10149 County Highway 11, Chandlerville, IL 62627.

• Rice Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area, Fulton County:  registration 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. at the area check station, three miles south of Banner on Route 24.

• Sanganois State Fish and Wildlife Area, Cass and Mason Counties: registration 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. On the east side of the maintenance building, two miles north of Chandlerville on Illinois Route 78 (follow the signs to Sanganois).

• Spring Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area and Pekin Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area, Tazewell County: registration 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. at the south park office area, two miles north of Manito on County Rd. 16 (Manito Rd.) and eight miles west and south on Spring Lake Rd.

• Starved Rock State Park, LaSalle County: registration 10 a.m.- 2 p.m. at the Point Shelter day use area on Illinois Route 71, about four miles east of Illinois Route 178 or 5½ miles west of Illinois Route 23 in South Ottawa.

• Woodford State Fish and Wildlife Area, Woodford County: registration 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. at the area check station, 5½ miles north of Spring Bay on Illinois Route 26.

SATURDAY, AUGUST 5, 2017 (Blinds allocated for two years)

• Mississippi River Pool 16: Registration 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. at Loud Thunder Forest Preserve, 19408 Loud Thunder Rd., Illinois City.

• Mississippi River Pool 17: registration 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. at New Boston City Park.

• Mississippi River Pool 18: registration 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. at Delabar State Park, two miles north of Oquawka.

Additional hunting information and maps on the above sites can be accessed at the link below.


Mind Your Mushroom Manners

Mon, April 03, 2017

morel mushroom

It’s mushroom season – morels are starting to pop throughout southern IL and the “find line” is moving north a little every day. Sadly, that also means some conflicts inevitably arise.
There’s an almost subculture among long time morel hunters, and like any subculture it has own inherent ethics, rules, and customs.  As more and more people, each year take to the woods in search of morels it’s important that we all understand safe, ethical, and legal mushroom hunting practices.

First let’s look at some of legalities –

Trespassing is trespassing. End of discussion. It doesn’t matter that you aren’t hunting turkey, it doesn’t matter that once three years ago you went with a friend on this property. It doesn’t matter if you didn’t know where the property lines were.  It doesn’t matter if you only went “a little” over the property line, or nine miles deep in someone’s woods. It doesn’t matter that you “know a guy who said it was okay -  he hunts here” Trespassing is still trespassing, and many property owners won’t think twice about calling the CPO or having you ticketed. Just don’t do it. 

There are many different phone apps these days (I use onX Hunt Maps) that clearly show both property owners and property lines. With onX Hunt Maps there is a 30-dollar annual fee, but that is far cheaper than a trespassing fine, and I have also found it useful for identifying property owners to ask permission to access property. It’s especially useful in areas where public land and private land are adjoining or patchworked. Additionally, it allows you to pin your spots, set tracks as journey through the woods, and is one paid app that I highly recommend for all outdoor enthusiasts.

If you do ask permission for property access it’s always a good idea to offer the property owner a Landowner Permission Card that is available free from IDNR. It really helps cut down on any conflicts down the road and helps to indicate to the property owner that you are willing to follow the rules on their property, and do things in correct and safe fashion.

Additionally, if someone is gracious enough to offer you access to their property you should always share your harvest, send a nice thank you note, and never take others along with you unless it has been specifically cleared with the property owner. Remember they gave YOU permission, not you and dozens of your friends.

Things get even more complicated for public land hunters.

It’s vital that during spring turkey season you stay out of the woods until after 1 pm.  It’s not a way for all the turkey hunters to get all the mushrooms first – it’s a way to keep you from being accidentally shot. It’s a method to help decrease conflict between user groups, and foremost it’s a safety issue. It doesn’t matter if you are in a no hunting area – it’s turkey season, and you should treat every piece of public land as if it may be holding a turkey hunter somewhere, or within gunshot range. NO mushroom is worth a fanny full of shot or worse.
Additionally, you should always check with the individual site for any closed areas, natural areas, or preserves where mushroom hunting is not permitted. In general, in IL if it’s a designated nature preserve, ecological area, or natural area you can’t remove anything; and that includes mushrooms. This also often applies to some National Historic areas.
If you are foraging on federal properties such as National Wildlife Refuges or USCAE recreational areas, make sure that you have appropriate vehicle stickers and passes. Some fee areas require these for entrance or parking .

Lastly, thanks to social media, Craigslist, and few television shows, folks believe commercial mushroom hunting is the way to make a quick buck. Be very aware that you cannot commercially hunt on IL public lands, so if you decide to do so, know that you are doing it at your own peril. Additionally, groups or even single folks who commercial hunt on public land can very quickly decimate entire areas.

Commercially selling wild harvested mushrooms in IL is a bit of grey area.

IL Department of Public Health tells us that “Due to the difficult and complex nature of mushroom identification, the challenge is best left to mycologists, or mushroom experts. For instance, while mushrooms in the genus Amanita are responsible for the most mushroom-related deaths in Illinois per year, some edible species within this genus are revered as the most delectable. Due to the ease in misidentification, the sale of wild harvested mushrooms is not allowed at farmer’s markets in Illinois.“ 

But I can’t find any specific regulation (please correct me if anyone knows of a source!) that regulates the sale of wild mushrooms on a person to person basis. My best suggestion is contact your local CPO to double check on any mushroom related legal question, and when in doubt – don’t.

Be very cautious when buying mushrooms through social media, web sites such Craigslist, etc. There is literally no way you can be sure of freshness, quality, care taken in harvest etc. Do you really want to trust someone you don’t know to ensure that the mushrooms were picked legally, ethically, and that the utmost care has been used in storage and packaging?

Now on to the subtler ethics, morals, and social mores associated with mushroom hunting.

Whether it’s morels or any other wild edible, always use sustainable and ethical harvest practices.  Don’t go in and completely decimate an area. Always leave a little “for seed”.  A good rule of thumb is at least 10%, although some recommend a little more be left to keep patches active and thriving. Make sure that you are not destroying habitat tramping around. I’ve seen excellent patches completely obliterated by over harvest or groups who tramped through, raked back leaves, and left the spot as bare as Wal Mart parking lot when they were finished. This helps no one. Be certain that the population can withstand the harvest.  Don’t harvest in areas such where contamination by chemicals etc. could be possible. Harvest using the correct method to promote the patch/stand. Don’t just go ripping things our willie nillie with no thought to the underlying damage you may be causing. Think like a conservationist. Wild harvesters have long understood that for us to continue with bountiful harvests, we must practice good wild harvest practices. Unfortunately, in this get rich quick age, and with the increasing trend for local wild foods and foraging many people never get around to considering the conservation piece. All they want is a plateful and pocketful of cash.

Be respectful of other mushroom hunters you encounter. While indeed public land is there for all of us to share – just like any other public land activity – be respectful of others and their spaces. Perhaps one of the worst things you can do if you see someone picking mushrooms along a hillside is to rush over and invade that space. Best case is to speak politely, wish them luck, and make a note of the spot for future forays. Don’t crowd or intrude on other foragers who are picking! It’s also very rude to hang just a few yards behind and follow someone through the woods. In today’s age many can perceive that as unusual or threatening behavior, and you might find yourself being reported to a CPO.  There’s no need to have wars in the parking lots, be ugly, or threaten anyone you encounter along the trail.  Although, somedays I think public land mushroom is just as fraught with this unpleasant behavior as public land waterfowl hunting and the battles at the ramps and walk ins.

To tell or not to tell – well, I honestly don’t know any long-term mushroom hunter that will very willingly give up their best spot, private or public. They may take you along – with either the clear message that you shouldn’t come back without them, nor bring others to the spot, or assume you understand the unspoken rules. This is the fastest way to find yourself blacklisted in the mushroom hunting community. Once word gets out that you return or worse yet bring everybody and their brother to show them patches that you were shown by some trusting friend, you may well find the invitations to go shrooming drop off dramatically.

If you visit from out of state to our IL mushroom hunting areas – remember, you are a visitor, and while we certainly welcome visitors, we don’t want to hear how much money you have spent to get here, how you have made a 6-hour drive, how much more entitled you are, or how you are here to commercial hunt…on and on and on. Just mind your manners, be polite and do not be surprised when no one answers your questions about where the best areas are located.  Explore the area, get a feel for it and be nice to the locals. They are after all, the ones who will be rescuing you if you get lost or in trouble.

If you happen to know of or stumble into a patch that is a very easy walk, close to parking etc. be mindful that this may be one of the few patches that an old timer can still physically hunt. Just my own opinion, but taking over or intruding on an old timer’s patch because it’s “easy picking” is one of the worst things a mushroom hunter can do. Some day if you are lucky you will have lived long enough to no longer be able to easily run up and down the hills and hollers. Keep that in mind, and offer to help any of the old timers you encounter or share your harvest with them. 

When you get down to brass tacks, it’s simple; follow the rules and regulations, try to understand the sub culture and local attitudes about mushrooms, be nice. Share and respect public land for what it is and understand that it is often multi use property. Don’t encroach, invade, or overstep. Don’t give away the locations to areas shared with you by others unless they have specifically given you permission to share or bring others.

Be nice boys and girls – the mushroom wars are just starting. Let’s try for a little bit of a peace accord this year, shall we?


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