October’s Outdoor Column

Picture yourself near a small stream or river during the middle to later part of October.   The leaves are in full color, there is a coolness to the autumn air and the water trickles along as it makes it way to the sea.

This is what you would see if you spent the fall fishing for smallmouth bass.  It’s a beautiful sight out there to see the autumn leaves reflecting off the water.  Suddenly, as you watch, your lure slipping along under the water the entire solitude changes as a big smallmouth takes to the air with your lure in its mouth.

Fall is my favorite time of the year to fish the “smallies” as the moment I pictured above becomes reality.  The colors and the coolness of the air make this a perfect combination for relaxation as I prepare to lock myself in for the winter and begin carving birds again.

Almost everything you need for fall hunting and fishing can be found at your Local Big R Store and whether you are an angler, a hunter or a trapper, you will find what you need at Big R.

The one thing I love about smallmouth bass fishing is the fact that once you hook one of these fish it goes skyward trying to shake the lure.  Pound for pound, these smallmouths will fight like no other fish and, if you are smart you will release your fish to fight another day!

Also called “bronze backs”, the smallmouth inhabits many of the rivers and streams in Illinois and Indiana and, if you are fortunate to have smallmouth in your area, you should look at this resource as an area to explore.

If you are a deer hunter here are a few tips that might help you as I have seen many hunters fail to take care of his or her harvested deer properly and end up with a disaster in the end.

In the early fall, many deer get harvested on a warm day and I’ve seen hunter after hunter put them on the bed of their pick-up truck to get them home or to a processor.  The last thing you need is to have your deer on the hotbed of a truck as the meat will spoil quickly on a warm sunny day.

Place your deer on a wooden skid or two or use anything that will get your deer off the hotbed and allow air to flow under it.  It doesn’t take long at all for a deer to spoil on the hotbed of a pick-up.

If you plan to mount your deer head, don’t place a rope around your deer’s neck to drag it out of the woods or to hang it from the rafters once you get home.  Instead, place your rope around the antlers of your deer. It is never good to drag a deer out of the woods if you intend to mount the head or tan the hide. Drag marks, torn hair, dirt, etc. will all appear in the mounting process.

As a taxidermist for thirty-five years, I have seen it all!  One of the worst things I have seen repeatedly is hunters thinking they know where to cut a deer cape for mounting purposes only to find out they are didn’t and the cape is cut way too short.  Once this done the mount many times is ruined unless your taxidermist has extra capes to use. In this case, many want an arm and a leg for a new cape and the mount costs you a lot more.

The best thing to do is to take your deer to the taxidermist and let him or her remove the cape the way they want it.  This eliminates any guesswork on your part.

Fall is a wonderful time of the year to pursue your favorite outdoor sport; to hunt, to fish, or to trap.  It is also a time of the year to be careful as water is cooling and hunters are in the woods. Stay safe and don’t become a hunting or fishing statistic as this has happened to far too many people I know!

Enjoy the beauty of fall and get out and enjoy the great weather and changing colors.  It won’t be long before the window closes and the door of winter shuts us in!

About Sam Van Camp

Born: Danville, Illinois | Married: Pam Van | Lives: Georgetown, Illinois | High School: Danville High School | College: Danville Area Community College, Eastern Illinois University | Degree: Bachelor’s Degree in Zoology with Minor in Botany | Specialties Areas: Master’s Degree – Fisheries Biology, Mammalogy, Herpetology | Previous Jobs: School Teacher – Basic Biology 36 years Outdoor Writer – 38 years (1 Book Published “Jitterbug Collector’s Guide State and Federally Licensed Taxidermist – 35 yearsWood Carver specializing in song birds, birds of prey and waterfowl 46 years | Hobbies: Bass Fishing, Hunting, Collecting Fishing Lures