Fall has arrived and with that is the kickoff of my hunting season. The last few years I have been trying to get a permit on Jim Edgar Panther Creek State Fish and wildlife Area. Unfortunately I don’t seem to have the luck with drawing the first couple of days but this year was different. I had my buddy Al apply and I was on as the second person. Low and behold we drew the second day which would be the first day for that set of dove fields. We both were excited to shoot some doves. I did draw the 4th day last year but only fired three shots and none hit the target.
The week before our scheduled dove hunt we thought we would like to go over and see the fields and see if we could see any doves. Well it is an hour and half drive from my house so we decided to load the boat up and head down to Prairie Lake at the park and see if we could locate some crappie.
We headed out early Saturday morning around 5am. We arrived at the lake right around sunrise and unloaded the boat and off we went. It didn’t take long before we spotted some fish on the electronics and away we went. We started catching a couple of crappie and a few nice bluegill as well. I really didn’t know what to expect out of this lake but I was pleasantly surprised. We didn’t knock them dead but I wasn’t counting on that since the temperature was supposed to be 98 degrees that day. We fished until about 10am and then Al looked at his phone and said “you will never guess what the real feel is right now”. I said “let me guess 105 degrees”. Al replied “no not even close, it says 127 degrees real feel on my phone”. That is when we decided to get off the lake. Amazingly enough I think we ended up with 19 fish for our efforts. We immediately had to get them on ice before they spoiled.
After wrapping up the boat we started driving around to find the fields. With the heat we didn’t see many doves but I didn’t think we would in the middle of the day. With the dry summer other than a 10-day period I wasn’t expecting the dove fields to have very big sunflowers. I was completely wrong. I have hunted in many of state areas over the years for doves and their program is bare none the best I have seen. The sunflowers in some of the fields were bigger than a dinner plate. Just seeing how good these fields looked I knew there was going to be doves in everyone of them. After a couple of hours of scouting we headed back home to clean our fish.
After a long week of anticipation, the day arrived for our dove hunt. We headed down early Saturday morning to do some more scouting. We had breakfast a great little place in Manito, IL called Lee’s Family Restaurant. I highly recommend a stop if you are ever in the area. After filling our bellies, we headed for the park and started scouting. We found one field that seemed to have a lot more birds than the other two. We decided on our locations we would like to hunt and we would have to see if we can draw early enough to get one of those locations.
After we put our name in for the drawing we sat back and waited. At 10am they started the drawing for the permits. As numbers were called, we watched the locations we want get picked off one by one. Finally, our number was called and we had one of our spots picked out still available. We took a spot on the end of the field by some trees and plenty of sunflowers and winter wheat in the field.
We could start shooting at noon, so we sat in truck awhile than headed out to get set up. One thing surprised me is most of the people didn’t come right out to the field. Many waited until 2 – 2:30 pm before they got to the field. The first three hours there wasn’t much going on but as 3:30 hit all hell broke loose. Doves were flying everywhere, and I couldn’t hit the broad side of the barn. I shouldn’t admit this, but I shot 42 time for four birds. I did have three birds lost. Two I have no idea how I lost them, one jumped up into a deep ravine of grass and trees as I went to pick it up and we couldn’t find it in the grass. I didn’t take my dog and I regretted it. My buddy Al was talking smack but he only ended with five birds, so I don’t think his shooting was much better. I guess that is what you get for only hunting doves once in the last six or seven years.
Since that was probably my only dove hunt of the year, I switched gears and started preparing for North Dakota and deer season. I spent a couple of days at the farm getting stands moved, lanes mowed and new straps put on the stands. One thing everyone should do before going out to a deer stand is check those straps. You don’t know if they have dry rotted, squirrels could have chewed them or sometimes the tree grows for a couple of years and breaks them. So, make sure to take the time to make sure everything is ready during the daylight before you step foot on that latter on opening morning.
One thing I have been researching is a good seat to use in the woods so I can be more mobile. I have had several seats over the years but none that I would say is outstanding in the timber. Well, I think I finally have found the answer. The Versatile Ground Blind. This seat can be used on hills, ground, or anywhere you want to put the seat. I have several locations on the farm that have some big deer that cross through. The only problem is there is, there are no good trees for my stand and its on a very steep slope. I decided to give this Versatile Ground Blind a try. Once it arrived, I immediately took it out to the farm to put it to the test. I wanted to set on the side of this steep hill that goes down to the swamp. I walked up the hill for about 40 yards before my lungs decided it was a good place to stop. I found a little tree to use as a back and set the seat up. I was extremely comfortable. I would have taken a picture, but I was by myself. It really is a nice little seat. Easy to carry, easy to setup. If you would like to check it out for yourself, you can see their ad on page 23 or you can go to their website and watch some of their videos www.versatilegroundblind.com.
We also took our annual trip to Reelfoot Lake to catch some catfish. We spent three days chasing catfish around this beautiful. For the first time in many years, we only caught a few catfish. Usually, we catch a hundred or so catfish during this trip but it was extremely hot and most of us ended up relaxing by the lake. If you are ever looking for a great crappie, bluegill and catfish lake you really should book a trip to Reelfoot Lake. My suggestion is if you are going to be there for a few days get a guide the first day to help you understand where the fish are and how to catch them. If you are looking for a great place to stay at very reasonable prices give Candy a call at Sportsman’s Resort and she will take care of you. Sportsman’s Resort can be reached at 731-253-6581 or check out their website at www.reelfootlake.com.
I attended the Youth Trap Open that was held at Peoria Skeet and Trap on Saturday September 16th. I was amazed at the number of youth that came out for this event. It really made me feel good to see all of the kids enjoying themselves shooting. Sometimes I think they get too into video games or their phones in general so it was nice to see so many young men and women enjoying this great sport. I know many people who don’t hunt but love to shoot trap. I am looking forward to another round on the 5-Stand at Peoria Skeet and Trap. If you haven’t done this, you really should. It will humble you in a hurry but a great way to get on track before duck season. If you are interested in the 5-Stand, give them a call and reserve a time. Peoria Skeet and Trap is located at 1470 IL Rt. 26, East Peoria, IL 61611 and their number is 309-822-8146.
Until next month. May your sunrises and sunsets be magical