December’s Outdoor Column

The month of December brings us Christmas and sends many of us scrambling to find the right Christmas present.

If you are buying for that person in your life that spends time in the outdoors, the number of possibilities for a Christmas present are tremendous. The upcoming months are going to be cold so outfitting your outdoor person may revolve around the purchase of something that will keep him or her warm in the outdoors. The obvious present is simple; a pair of gloves, boots, jacket, etc.

I encourage everyone to ask before they buy thus making sure the present is what is needed and, don’t forget, your local Big R Stores will have lots of nice items to make your Christmas shopping easy. December makes up a big part of the waterfowl season which is expected to be about the same as last season. Some duck populations have fared well over the years while others have not done as well.

The mallard, the number one duck in the hunter’s bag in this part of the country, is well known to most Americans. Often called “Green Heads”, the mallard is one of the largest ducks using our flyway. The hen mallard is mottled brown with black markings to allow it to hide from predators. The teal, the smallest ducks which come through our area in early September, is a fast flying bird that gives hunters a great challenge.

Waterfowl hunting is tough hunting and requires a lot of time in the cold. Nasty days are many times the best days as is the case many times with early spring fishing. Inexperienced waterfowl hunters need to spend some time with veteran hunters to learn the ropes as, not only is it a tough and cold hunt, but it can be a dangerous hunt.
Which blinds to use and the proper setting of decoys are just some things a novice needs to learn. Staying warm and dry, training dogs, and o shooting techniques are best learned from experienced hunters.

The dangers of hunting around water include drowning and hypothermia so proper care and calculating each move is more important than similar activities done during the warmer months. Being a survivor rather than a statistic is most important to you and your family, so making foolish moves while around water is something you need to consider before you make them. No animal, deer, duck, goose, fish, etc. is ever worth you not coming home so learn the ropes necessary to stay safe while in the outdoors and don’t stray from them!

November’s Outdoor Column

When November rolls around the major hunting seasons of deer, upland game, trapping and waterfowl begin to open.

The seasons differ if you live in Illinois or Indiana so hunters need to be aware of the laws that govern their hunt. Your local Big R Stores offer you most everything to outfit your hunt, whether it be clothing, footwear, ammunition, heaters, traps, or items for processing your game. Making the most of your hunt requires preparation prior to the hunt or the setting of a trap-line.

Don’t fall victim to assuming everything you put up last winter is in tip-top shape for this fall. Check every item you are taking with you and make sure it is ready to go before you head out. Tree stands need to be carefully checked. If you are an archery deer hunter you probably have already done that.

If you haven’t done that yet, do it now while you still have time. Most accidents involving a tree stand happen on the way up or the way down. Check your steps going up and down the tree carefully. Check the strength of the limbs you might use to secure yourself climbing up or down. Check the security of the stand itself to make sure bolts or screws haven’t come loose during the months it has set idle.

Waterfowl hunters need to do the same. Many times, these hunters find themselves out in extreme environmental conditions and, if something goes wrong or doesn’t work, the problems begin to mount for the hunter. Trappers need to have their traps ready to go. This means boiling and dyeing the traps and making sure all springs and triggers are working properly.

Scouting is most important in all phases of winter hunting and trapping. If you don’t scout out your area and just go in cold turkey, you may find your hunting or trapping season is over before it starts. Locating sign, finding feeding, roosting and sleeping areas is a must for most forms of hunting. Staking dens and setting wires ahead of the season can making trapping much easier, especially if it turns bitter cold.

Don’t forget the fishing gets good when the water turns cold. November has long been a good month for taking a big bass, walleye, trout or musky. Big fish prowl late looking for that last meal ahead of the hard freeze. Safety is a must during the cold weather whether you are hunting or fishing. Most accidents that happen to the hunter or the angler can be avoided by using a little care. Don’t become a statistic this winter; live to enjoy the spring!