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Local Sports

OUTDOORS: Less habitat, fewer open lands cause for concern

I have talked to many of the participants that have taken Hunters Safety Courses over the years. Some have ventured out and have found out the joys of hunting. Unfortunately, many have not. When asking why, I get answers like there is no place to go. I realize that folks in Illinois are very independent. They tend to protect their lands with a vengeance.

Other things I hear is I didn’t see anything, or the land is leased or I have reserved it for relatives. Fortunately, we haven’t had that problem with fishing. We are privileged to have a multitude of rivers, streams and lakes in our area.

With hunting, I am concerned about several things. The first thing I habitat loss. The second is leasing. Leasing is taking away properties that were once open to many hunters. Farmers have taken up leasing because some can afford large fees, but few can afford to pay it. This keeps a lot of folks out of prime habitat. The days of depending on generosity of neighbors are disappearing. Without a place to go, many give it up. The cost of leasing is not practical for most working-class folks. The amount of people who can afford it will not be enough to support the activity for long. You will see license sales diminish as time goes on.

Habitat loss is also a concern. Without sufficient habitat, there will be less upland game. We have already experienced this with the ringed-neck pheasant. Our cottontail rabbit population has fallen to all-time lows locally due to lack of cover. We still have a fair population of wild turkeys but that can change as well.

Because of these things, there will be fewer sportsmen and women caring for our way of life. Legislation has helped. They tend to fund conservation and provide the opportunity to find healthy landscapes to hunt. All of these issues are important. It's up to us to try to effect any positive changes. Encourage new hunters to contact legislators to continue to encourage new habitat. In closing, take a kid hunting.

Hunting report

Not much to talk about. The woodchuck/groundhog season is now open, but some hunters are having trouble finding them with the fields full of yellow flowers. The heavy rains we have experienced have kept many farmer our of the fields and as everyone knows planting has been delayed.

Fishing report

Area rivers are beginning to clear up. Even though they have been heavily stained, fishermen are taking some very big channel catfish from both the Illinois and Fox Rivers close to shore. Places that were mediocre have now come alive with fish. I don’t know if the fish have become accustomed to the different bottom or if bait fish have moved in closer to shore.

Cooling lake action continues to be very good for bluegill, catfish and hybrid striper. Some nice small mouth have been caught at La Salle during early morning hours. At Braidwood, the largemouth bass are hitting jig and pork baits fished near off-shore structure.

At Heidecke the walleye bit has been very good on the south portion of the lake near the bridge. Farm ponds continue to be very good for bass and bluegill.

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