The past few days, I have been doing a lot of preseason scouting. That is, looking for some fresh deer sign.
Now that much of the crops have been harvested, many animals have altered their habits. Feeding routes, as well as cover and bedding areas, have all changed. Many animals are in survival mode, including geese, squirrels, beavers and even raccoons.
I have been trying to work in a little fishing, which is limited to the Illinois and Fox rivers. Most all of the Department of Natural Resources lakes and ponds are now closed for the winter. The Illinois River has had so much wind that it is consumed by white-cap waves. This makes presentation very hard, as it blows one off course no matter where you find fish.
One of the things that occurred one week ago was a tremendous amount of silt that shut fishing down completely. My only guess is that since all local navigation locks had been closed for several months, a large amount of silt had accumulated above them. After repairs were completed, the locks were operational, and all of that silt went into the waterway. It sure clouded things up for a few days.
With water temps in the high 40s, this can shut down a fishery very quickly. In summer, high water temps don’t affect fishing, and many fish can be caught close to shore in their attempt to stay out of heavy current to conserve energy.
I have been asked to do some nuisance beaver trapping again. At 77-plus years, I don’t know how long I will be able to do this. Beaver trapping is very hard work. In addition, there is no market for the furs.
Between raccoons and beavers, there is no limit of calls that a trapper receives to rid some landowner of a pest.
Waterfowlers continue to do well on Canada geese. Duck hunting remains very poor. Squirrel hunting is very good, as the bushytails are feeding in earnest to fatten up for the winter.
There seems to be a lot of coyotes. They can be observed in picked agricultural fields as they hunt for mice. This is a very valuable fur today. I have had reports of one large coyote, skinned and fleshed, bringing close to $100. Their fur is used in the trim trade.
Make sure you check your deer permit for the days and hours of the season. One of the hunting digests has the wrong dates for the firearm season.
White bass are hitting if you can find an Illinois River tributary that has clear water coming in. That is, a small creek or larger river that has cleared up. The large storm that we received last Saturday has many small streams high and swollen, so that can be a hard item to find.
Most of the fish we caught earlier were on live minnows using a lead-head jig in about 10 feet of water. Sometimes a bonus sauger is in the same area.