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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


Versatile Hunter

McLean County Sportsmen’s Association

Tue, April 24, 2018

On April 14, 2018 my two boys and I made the trip out to Comlara Park north of Bloomington, IL for a shed antler hunt that was being put on by the McLean County Sportsmen’s Association.  I’d heard about this event for the past 3 or so years and finally made it happen for our family.  Over 100 people showed up despite some drizzle and overcast conditions and over 150 antlers were distributed in the tallgrass prairies.  Each little one went home with at least one antler to add to their collections.  We met some buddies with their little ones and I was able to talk with some of the many volunteers there regarding what the Sportsmen’s Association was all about.  All I can say is that an organization like this is exactly what I’d like to see in the Peoria area—a combination of organizations coming together to get kids outdoors and giving back to their local community through well planned events and fun for all.  I was impressed.

Mike Steffa, Director of Comlara Park and a member of the Sportsmen’s Association, also provided some background that I’ve included below. 

The McLean County Sportsmen’s Association began in November of 1991 as the idea of a business man, Ron Hamilton - then owner of Guns & Game; to promote the positive image of sportsmen.  It began as an association comprising of local hunting & fishing groups such as:

• The Whitetail Bow Hunters
• Mackinaw Valley Bow Hunters
• Central Illinois Bass Club
• Bloomington-Normal Bass Club
• Mackinaw Valley Bassmasters
• Kickapoo Muzzle Loaders
• McLean County Pheasants Forever; and the
• McLean County Chapter of Ducks Unlimited

In three short months these groups completed plans to hold a Wild Game Banquet, the first of a 26 year run.  The purpose of the banquet was to raise money and to help McLean County charities; especially those involved in assisting young children & the great outdoors.  The first banquet raised over $20,000 for local charities, and in the years since over a half a million dollars has been raised to continue helping children in McLean County.

These individuals and organizations are some of those that have been supported by the McLean County Sportsmen’s Association throughout the years:

• American Jr. Baseball Inc.
• Big Brothers & Big Sisters
• Bloomington / Normal Bass Club
• Bloomington DARE Program
• Bloomington Firefighters Food Baskets
• Boating Safety Education Classes
• Boys and Girls Club
• Children’s Discovery Museum
• Children’s Health Care Council
• Comlara Park/Evergreen Lake
• “Custer” Club Unit 5
• DU Green Wing Program
• Easter Seals Camp at Lake Bloomington
• Fishing Has No Boundaries
• Friends of EverBloom
• Good Fellow Fund
• Heyworth Christian Youth Group
• High School Bass Fishing Teams
• High School Wingshooting Teams
• H.O.O.A.H. – Helping Out Our American Heroes
• Hunter Safety Education Classes
• ISU - Metcalf Lab School
• ISU Trap & Skeet Club/Quail Unlimited Chapter
• ISU Bass Fishing Team
• Kids Fishing Derby (Large Derby Held At Miller Park – Bloomington)
• Kiwanis Club
• Legion Baseball
• LeRoy Rifle and Pistol Club’s Youth Program
• Lexington Cops & Kids Program
• Marc Center
• McLean Co. Archery Workshop
• McLean Co. DARE Program
• Metcalf Special Ed.
• Miller Park Fishing Derby
• Muscular Dystrophy Association
• Normal DARE Program
• Panola Prairie Sportsmen’s Club
• Parkside Jr. High Special Ed.
• Pheasants Forever
• Providing Deer meat to the needy
• Special Olympics
• St. Jude Telethon
• Stanford’s Sportsmen’s Club
• Troop 57 Boy Scouts
• Unit 5 Special Olympics
• W.D. Boyce Boy Scout Council
• Well Child Association
• Whitetails Unlimited
• Wingshooting Clinics
• Youth Antler Hunt
• Youth Pheasant Hunts

In addition to these, McLean County Sportsmen’s Association has also provided/funded internship opportunities to college students at the McLean County Department of Parks & Recreation, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the ISU Biology Department, and the Illinois Conservation Police.



The Old Man and the Boy

Sun, April 08, 2018

I read a lot of books; have since I was a kid.  I always have a few outdoors magazines laying around and at least one book I’m reading.  Once one book is read, I get another one.  My time to read is either during travel or just before bed.  Rarely does a book make my “must read multiple times and let others know about it” list, but my most recent read was a top 5 for me. 

My favorite book is still “A Sand County Almanac” by Aldo Leopold.  It reads like a series of stories but in each story comes an education on the outdoors.  You’re learning without even knowing it essentially.  “The Old Man and The Boy” by Robert Ruark reads much the same way.  It’s written in near the same game-rich era of the 1930’s-1950’s, and much like “Sand County” it is still as important today as ever; if not more so. . ..

Ruark’s story is one of growing up in rural North Carolina and palling around with his granddad.  My grandpa also helped educate and teach me lessons about the outdoors when I was growing up.  He too was a hard-nosed man raised poor and self-educated on all things including the outdoors.  His lessons were learned through trial and error over many, many experiences.  The lessons taught in this book are not only where to find quail, gun safety, camping, and how to lead a duck but also why being polite is important and how even those that aren’t like us are deserving of respect.  I’ll give you an example of his writing/education in a short quote on training hunting dogs (one of my favorites): “A bird dog. . . is trained in the back yard.  There ain’t no way in the world you can teach him to smell. .. . or teach him bird sense. . . all you can teach this dog is a little discipline. Like they’re trying to teach you a little discipline in school.  Whether you got brains enough to take advantage of it is strictly up to you.”

If you have any interest in well told outdoors stories and even want to learn a little more about the hunting of many species of midwestern game we seek here in Illinois, give this book a whirl—you won’t be disappointed.


Illinois receives $22.9 Million for Sportsmen & Conservation

Tue, March 20, 2018

WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Department of the Interior announced $22,928,289 in funding to Illinois to support critical state conservation and outdoor recreation projects. The announcement is part of $1.1 billion in annual national funding going to state wildlife agencies from revenues generated by the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration and Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration (PRDJ) acts. To date, more than $20.2 billion in funds, which are authorized by Congress, have been distributed to U.S. states and territories.

Illinois apportionments include $6,593,209 in Sport Fish Restoration funds and $16,335,080 in Wildlife Restoration funds. State-by-state listings of the final Fiscal Year 2018 apportionments of Wildlife Restoration Program fund can be found here and the Sport Fish Restoration Program fund here.

“Illinois sportsmen and women are some of our best conservationists and they contribute billions of dollars toward wildlife conservation and sportsmen access every year through the Pittman-Robertson and Dingell-Johnson Acts,” said Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. “For nearly eighty years, states have been able to fund important conservation initiatives thanks to the more than $20 billion that has generated nationwide. Every time a firearm, fishing pole, hook, bullet, motor boat or boat fuel is sold, part of that cost goes to fund conservation. The best way to increase funding for conservation and sportsmen access is to increase the number of hunters and anglers in our woods and waters. The American conservation model has been replicated all over the world because it works.”

The funds, which are distributed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, are derived from excise taxes paid by the hunting, shooting, boating and angling industries on firearms, bows and ammunition and sport fishing tackle, some boat engines, and small engine fuel.

“Revenues generated by the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration and Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration acts provides funding to states to protect and conserve our nation’s fish and wildlife heritage today and for generations to come,” said Virgil Moore, President of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and Director of Idaho Fish and Game. “This funding mechanism serves as the foundation for fish and wildlife conservation in our country.”

Nationwide, the recipient state wildlife agencies have matched these funds with approximately $6.7 billion throughout the years, primarily through hunting and fishing license revenues.

For more information about the WSFR program visit


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