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Dedicated outdoors devotee, Kankakee Daily Journal, Feb 01

Challenge part of ice fishing’s allure, Dale Bowman, Feb 01

Youth program gives hunting situations, Quad City Times, Feb 01

Midwest Summer Fishing Report, Dale Bowman , Jul 21

Ticks are becoming growing problem, Jeremiah Haas, Jul 19

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Versatile Hunter

Raccoon Callin’

Tue, March 12, 2013

Last summer while working a hunting dog test in Canton, IL I ran into some folks who had experience hunting raccoons with electronic callers.  They explained that it was an easy setup and all you needed was a caller with a boar fight or other raccoon vocalization (some have even said a predator distress call such as a mouse squeaker or dying rabbit will work).  You set the caller beneath a suspected den tree and then turn it on, sit back against a tree with a little camouflage on and be ready to shoot.  What does a den tree look like?  Raccoons prefer older growth trees that contain holes and cavities so that they can den together in family groups over winter. It is also worth noting that den trees are often located near water sources because of the raccoon’s preference for water creatures such as frogs, snails, fish, etc. If there is snow on the ground you can see their tracks leading to/from a den tree and take note for a later hunt.

My initial reaction to all of this was suspect.  I’d never heard of doing this before and questioned whether or not it was legal.  After looking through the IL Digest of Hunting and Fishing and talking with a local CPO, it turns out it is completely legal.  Raccoons have a season so you can’t hunt them year round.  Last year’s season ran from November 5-February 10 in the north and five days later in the south.  Choice of guns include any caliber rifle, shotgun (slugs are NOT allowed, however), and/or handgun.  Obviously you need to stay ethical and make head shots with the smaller calibers.  Another thing worth noting is that you should wait until the raccoons are completely out of their den hole before shooting so as not to drop them back into their hole and potentially drive the other raccoons denning with them out of the tree.
So my buddy and I decided to try it this past February.  We snuck up to an old den tree that I had noted in the past while deer hunting and set the e-caller beneath it.  Then we backed off about 20 yards and set next to each other, backs against a tree looking at the den tree.  It was a cold day and I was questioning whether or not the raccoons would actually come out of the tree when the caller started. Within a minute or two I saw a big raccoon sticking its head out of one of several den holes.  I lined my shotgun up on him and waited for him to exit the hole.  About that time another raccoon came out of another hole in the same tree and started running up and down.  My buddy was dead tired from being up all night with his new baby, so when my gun went off he nearly fell over.  Within 5 minutes we saw at least 4 raccoons come out of the tree, shot one, and missed another.  After retrieving the first raccoon, another raccoon came out of a hole and ran up the tree—apparently the e-caller is just too enticing for them to resist.  That was the end of our setup but wow, it really got the blood pumping. 

So, what do you do with a raccoon once you’ve harvested it?  There are a lot of options from selling the hide, using it for coyote bait, to cooking it up.  Similar to other hunter experiences with game traditionally thought of as garbage meat, I’ve had other folks tell me that raccoon meat can actually be quite tasty.  Again, it’s all in how you cook it.  I’ll be sure and report back once I get a good recipe and try it for myself. 

Here’s what I’m ultimately getting at with this article—raccoon hunting with an e-caller is a blast!  Give it a try and see for yourself the next time you’re looking to spend a little time outdoors.  I don’t want to give raccoons a totally bad name as they certainly have their place in nature (as all wild things do), but they are nest raiders and will eat whatever they come across as they are omnivorous in nature (they eat everything essentially).  With the loss of many raccoon hunters as compared to in the past, this is a good way of managing populations.  If you keep some around though, you can continue the good hunting year after year as they often utilize the same den trees over and over.

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Joe Biden Talks Gun Control and Latest USFWS Outdoor Recreation Economic Numbers

Sun, March 10, 2013

http://www.fieldandstream.com/articles/guns/2013/02/gun-control-joe-biden-interview

http://www.census.gov/prod/2012pubs/fhw11-qkfact.pdf

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Midwest Quick Identification Guides

Tue, February 26, 2013

Here are some simple field identification guides.  I’ve used just about every Midwestern field guide out there from complex keys to various books and color coded keys.  These are some of the best I’ve seen so far for the layman just wanting to quickly figure out what they’re seeing in the field.

http://idtools.fieldmuseum.org/page/chicago-region-conservation-tools

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