Articles filed under Outdoors

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  • Ice fishing tips for those braving the cold Jan 7, 2015 5:30 PM
    With the Artic blast leading to more opportunites for ice fishing, Mike Jackson offers some timely tips to help you enjoy your time outdoors and keep your safe.

  • Wisconsin DNR to ask Supreme Court to review night deer ruling Jan 7, 2015 5:46 AM
    Attorneys for the state Department of Natural Resources are planning to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review a federal appellate decision ordering a judge to revisit a decades-old ruling barring Wisconsin’s Chippewa tribes from hunting deer at night. U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb ruled in 1991 that night deer hunting is dangerous and the state’s ban on the practice extends to the Chippewa as well. The tribes renewed their push for night hunting in 2012 after legislators angered them by allowing hunters to kill wolves at night. The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in October ordered Crabb to revisit her decision, saying there’s little reason to believe any longer that night hunting is dangerous. Attorneys representing the DNR planned to file their request with the Supreme Court on Wednesday.

  • Frigid temperatures revive DuPage’s Hard Water Classic Jan 7, 2015 10:48 AM
    Frigid temperatures this week are creating what officials hope will be ideal conditions for the third annual Hard Water Classic ice-fishing tournament at Blackwell Forest Preserve’s Silver Lake near Warrenville. Sponsored by the DuPage County Forest Preserve District, the tourney is scheduled for noon to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 10, and is expected to attract hundreds of anglers.

  • Hoosier National Forest keeps its caves closed to visitors Jan 6, 2015 6:18 AM
    The Hoosier National Forest is keeping its caves closed to park visitors in an effort to slow the potential spread of fungal disease that’s killed millions of North American bats. Staff at the 200,000-acre national forest that spans several southern Indiana counties first closed the caves in 2011 in an effort to protect bats from white-nose syndrome. That fungal disease doesn’t affect humans or other animals but it repeatedly interrupts bat hibernation, sapping their energy and fat stores, which can cause starvation and dehydration. Infected bats have been found in most caves on and around the Hoosier National Forest property. Forest Supervisor Mike Chaveas says continuing the park’s cave closures will help slow potential spread of the disease by limiting human access to the caves.

  • Indiana DNR suggests uses for discarded Christmas trees Jan 2, 2015 5:28 AM
    Indiana wildlife officials say Hoosiers should think twice before they toss their discarded Christmas tree into a nearby lake as a way of creating create habitat for fish. Chief fisheries biologist Brian Schoenung of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources says Christmas trees placed into lakes “provide cover but don’t necessarily grow more fish.” The DNR says discarding of a Christmas tree on a private pond is at the owner’s discretion, but state laws require a license from the DNR to construct or place a fish attractor in a public freshwater lake. The DNR says a better use for a discarded Christmas tree is taking its to local recycling site, putting it in your backyard to provide winter shelter for birds and other wildlife, or chopping it up for firewood.

  • Winter’s a good time for hiking in the suburbs, too Jan 1, 2015 7:30 AM
    Be glad if someone tells you to take a hike in the suburbs. While there are many great places to hike in the suburbs, some trails stand out more than others.

  • Wisconsin makes another big walleye investment Jan 1, 2015 5:28 PM
    Because Wisconsin DNR bosses know there’s money to be made, $11.5 million as been allocated for hatchery improvements to upgrade walleye fishing in our nearby neighboring state. As part of that hatchery project, the Wisconsin DNR is targeting Geneva Lake (just over the state line) to be stocked with 108,200 extended-growth walleye fingerlings, ranging from 6 9 inches.

  • Wisconsin DNR taking final comments on turkey plan Dec 27, 2014 8:02 AM
    Wisconsin wildlife officials have scheduled the last two public hearings on their 2015-2025 turkey management draft plan. The meetings are set for Feb. 10 at the state Department of Natural Resources’ Madison headquarters and for Feb. 12 at a Stevens Point hotel. Key parts of the draft plan include using spring and fall hunting permit and harvest data to help gauge the size of the turkey population; monitoring hunter attitudes with a goal of maintaining at least a 70 percent approval rate; managing hunter numbers to keep interference rates below 30 percent; improve hunter access to private land; improving habitat; supporting oak regeneration, in turn providing more acorns for turkeys during the fall and winter; and studying hunting’s impact on turkey population growth.

  • Wisconsin DNR looking to lease private land for turkey hunt Dec 27, 2014 8:02 AM
    The state Department of Natural Resources is looking to lease private land in southeastern Wisconsin to give turkey hunters more room to roam this spring. Under the DNR’s pilot Turkey Hunting Access program, leases are good until May 29, 2016. The rates are $5 per acre per year with an upfront lump sum payment from the state. Spring turkey hunters can use the leased land as if it were public from March 1 through May 29. The program is in place across turkey management zone two, which encompasses much of the southeastern side of the state. The enrollment deadline for a two-year lease is Jan. 30. Leases after that date will last one year. Agency officials say they’ve leased about 745 acres so far.

  • Jackson: Well-worn fishing gear that keeps on giving Dec 24, 2014 7:00 PM
    I’m sure I was imagining things when I thought I saw tiny, seasonal elf-life creatures near the reel drawer. I‘ve had similar hallucinations at this time of the year but shrugged them off to an overdose of eggnog. I, like some of my odd friends, have a tendency to hold on to fishing gear that others may have either tossed into the garbage or stored in a closet. The “others” I speak of could very well be that element of the angling community that would rather relegate a well-worn, older spinning reel to the dark recesses of some dank spot in a basement. I like the old stuff mixed in with some of the newer, glitzy contraptions that do everything except open a Diet Pepsi. I finished wiping some grease and grime from the body of my reliable, older, green-body Zebco Cardinal #4 spinning reel. And because this gem has never failed me in any regard, I searched high and low for a match. I never acquired one, but I did manage to tap into the rumor mill quite a few years back that the Shirley brothers of Ed Shirley Sports fame, had “taken custody” of a bunch of the “greenies” and sold them each for what had been described as a modest mortgage payment. It was about 15 years ago that I happened across a black-bodied model of the same ilk and was thrilled to spool it up with 6-pound mono. The only difference was this one had the Abu label affixed to the body. Those in the know warned me that because of the age of my Zebco green version, I needed to use extra caution using the reel for big fish. The spool and arbor could have been weakened by a simple little thing called age. Because my stubbornness often overrules common sense, I took “blackie” to northern Canada, while greenie rested comfortably in a drawer. It’s not that I had retired the old bugger, but rather decided not to overly stress the arbor and spool with the give-and-take supplied by the monsters of the deep. In fact, I’ll sometimes use the green reel around here for bass and panfish I find in the area ponds. I have a couple new Shakespeare and Pflueger spinning reels featuring drag systems that, if need be, could figuratively haul a barn door up from the bottom. In the 1960s, Zebco originally came out with its reel series dubbed “Cardinals.” There were two versions; one green and the other red. I even spotted a few white jobs in a small town. The most unique aspect of this reel series is the actual body. It’s built with plastic and some kind of composite material and hardly ever needs to have grease or oil applied to the gears and crank. During that time such engineering was unheard of and extremely revolutionary. When I told friends about the maintenance–free aspect, most of them refused to believe any device that behaved like a piece of machinery did not require lubrication to exist in the world of tough-stuff angling. Zebco and Abu had the last laugh when they proved the skeptics wrong. Do we have anything like those beauties in today’s fishing world? To the best of my knowledge, I doubt it. If you have a Cardinal or two let me know if you want to trade for any of my treasures. Be safe, not sorry: If you’d like a safe, happy and productive holiday week and weekend, don’t behave in a foolhardy fashion, especially when it comes to shore fishing. The lakes and ponds in the FPD system are not ready — nor are they open — for “make-believe” ice fishing. I’ve seen at least two people trying to navigate the ultra-thin ice on two different Cook County forest preserve lakes. These super-sharp mavens supposedly believe the thin layer of ice will support their weight as they try and get to the open water to throw a lure. If anyone wants open water, try the piers on Lake Michigan or the shoreline of the upper Fox River, where a few walleyes have been taken near St. Charles. Show time: The first outdoor fishing show opens its doors Jan. 8 — the All Canada Show at the Pheasant Run complex in St. Charles. • Contact Mike Jackson at, catch his radio show 7-9 a.m. Sundays on WGCO 1590-AM (live-streamed at and get more content at

  • No winter hunker down here Check out forest preserve’s new lineup of special events, programs Dec 22, 2014 2:46 PM
    If predictions turn out to be true, 2014-15 could be another big winter … or not. But no matter how much snow and cold we get, the Forest Preserves of Cook County invite you to stay active and keep learning all winter long with its great lineup of exciting winter events.

  • Texas ranchers seeking alternative incomes Dec 20, 2014 2:14 PM
    “The drought opened our eyes to we need to be more diverse,” said John Anderson, who ranches near Gail, about 70 miles south of Lubbock. “Our mind isn’t closed. If there’s something we can do we’re going to go for it, if it makes economic sense.”

  • The time is right for an ice-fishing upgrade Dec 17, 2014 7:13 PM
    I have been vigilant for several decades when it comes to protecting exposed flesh with heavy layers of winter survival gear in order to prepare for comfortable ice fishing expeditions. Naturally, standards and practices have changed over time, and well made portable shelters are among the innovations that are making ice fishing ever more pleasant.

  • FishBrain’s algorithm reveals anglers’ path to glory Dec 13, 2014 7:42 AM
    The sport of fishing may be about to experience its biggest revolution since the 1920s, thanks to an app developed by Swedish startup FishBrain. Relying on the average piscator’s impulse to brag about a catch, FishBrain uses shared photos of fish to generate big data. The company says it’s now logged enough data to predict when and where fish will bite. Recreational fishing is one of the world’s most practiced hobbies. In the U.S., anglers spend $48 billion annually on bait, tackle, gear and trips, according to the American Sportfishing Association. That’s more than three times as much as global recorded music sales, which were $15 billion last year, according to trade body IFPI. “Building a bigger user base is the key focus for 2015,” FishBrain’s Chief Executive Officer Johan Attby, 40, said in an interview in Stockholm. “The goal is to become the first-choice app for anglers worldwide.” The social network is introducing an algorithm to forecast when and where to drop a line for a particular species, based on the 225,000 catches users have logged. The big-data version of the app became available on Android last week and on iOS this week. Niched social networks are attracting investor appetite. Strava Inc., an online community for running and cycling, in October raised $18.5 million from investors including Sequoia Capital. Attby, who is more into bicycles than fish, said his idea was to find a community with many potential users. Combining a specialized social network with big data, Attby hopes to beat the solunar theory — a method proposed in 1926 that’s still popular today — in predicting when fish will strike. FishBrain’s app gathers a range of automatic data such as wind speed and water temperature while users log data on their catch and the equipment used to land it. Algorithms then predict where to find nine species, including northern pike, largemouth bass and spotted sea trout. The company, which was founded in 2011 and introduced its app last year, now has 650,000 users of which over two-thirds are in the U.S., where it dominates the market. FishBrain relies on word-of-mouth and Facebook ads for marketing, has raised about $3.5 million, and plans to take in more capital next year. Future updates may offer users gear, bait and fishing permits in the app through affiliates. The company now employs 12 people, a number Attby predicts will grow to about 100 in a year or two. Attby’s FishBrain feed is full of anglers showing off their latest catch and sharing tips. To encourage users to log aquatic trophies, the app keeps track on records for different waters so that a user with the biggest specimen of a particular fish gets named “King of the Water.” Users can also opt to hide details about a catch if they wish. Luckily for Attby, anglers like to share stories. “The best proof is to check on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube to see how anglers boast.”

  • For anglers, winter brings choices Dec 11, 2014 6:05 AM
    Outdoors columnist Mike Jackson has his own preferences for what to do when winter takes over, and he prefers going to local outdoors shows or ice fishing to staying home and waiting for spring.

  • Deer hunters increase harvest 3 percent Dec 11, 2014 4:35 PM
    Preliminary totals show Illinois hunters harvested 3 percent more deer this firearm season compared with last year’s season.

  • Wisconsin DNR board to consider update invasives list Dec 7, 2014 8:46 AM
    The state Department of Natural Resources’ board is set consider the first revisions to the Wisconsin’s invasive species list since it was created five years ago.

  • Legislature approves bobcat hunting Dec 4, 2014 4:05 PM
    Illinois lawmakers have approved legislation allowing bobcat hunting for the first time in more than 40 years.

  • Jackson: Light tackle, stealthy approach make for fun season Dec 3, 2014 6:47 PM
    Using light tackle along with a light touch when approaching a fishing spot can make for a great experience, even among some of the less glamorous fishing spots DuPage, Cook and Kane Counties.

  • Wisconsin dog hunters can go after wolves Dec 1, 2014 10:36 AM
    It looks like hunters will get a chance to run dogs on wolves, at least for a while. Wisconsin’s wolf season began in October but Monday was the first day hunters could use dogs to track and corner wolves. It appeared that dog users might not get a chance to get out before the season ended — hunters were just four wolves short of the 150-animal statewide kill limit going into the weekend — but according to state Department of Natural Resources data no one had taken any more wolves as of Sunday. Hunters aren’t allowed to let their dogs actually kill wolves, but wolf advocates still say running dogs on wolves is inhumane because wolves will turn and fight rather than flee.

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