I got to spend a little time with Illinois Department of Natural Resources Director Marc Miller at the big Chicago Outdoor Sports Show in January in Rosemont.
We chatted about a number of things, and I remember that I was hit with what I had thought was a fantastic idea that I dreamed up. Miller asked me to put it in writing and send it to him. Like so many of my fantastic ideas, this one escaped my memory, at least until now. I sat down at the keyboard and committed my idea to writing. Here is what I just sent off to Miller:
“Dear Marc, I brought this idea up to you last January at Rosemont. I hope that there is still time for you to consider it and get it accomplished in time for 2013.
“You told me that one of your goals is to make the various outdoor sports more available to the sportsmen of our state. You and I both would like nothing more than to see more Illinois citizens taking up hunting and fishing, to be sure. You have already instituted programs to do that exact thing for our youth, something that many are thankful for.
“I’d like to propose something that would not only allow more hunters to get out into the field, but would also help to curtail what many consider to be a serious problem here in northern Illinois.
“I would like to see some of our Illinois state parks opened up for coyote hunting for at least two weeks, beginning on January, 21, 2013, which is the day after all deer seasons have ended.
“I think that coyotes are a danger to the deer population. My only facts to back this up are purely anecdotal. I am sure that your biologists have the hard numbers documented. In addition to whitetail deer, the coyotes are running rampant and many people believe that they are a primary reason for the disappearance of squirrels in northern Illinois, as well as a primary reason that wild pheasants are unable to regain a toehold here. Squirrels and pheasants are a couple of things that many sportsmen would love to have the opportunity to hunt, just as they were able to do in past years.
“Coyotes are so populous that they seem to be popping up in every suburban neighborhood and even in the hearts of cities, too. People are afraid of these creatures, justified or not, and fewer coyotes would keep them from spreading out into more populated areas.
“Late January and early February are times when the state parks in Northern Illinois are used much less heavily than other times, which is why I think this would be the ideal time to allow them to be opened for coyote hunting. This is also the perfect time to hunt the coyotes because this is when their pelts are the fullest and most attractive, making for a wonderful trophy.
“People tell me that they don’t hunt coyotes because they can’t get access to or permission for hunting them on private property. Many landowners, particularly farmers, tell me that they would love to see the numbers brought down. I think that opening some state parks for coyote hunting would be a popular decision and would please many, many citizens.
“I hope that this project can be carefully considered and if it makes sense, can be implemented for January of 2013. I know that time is short, but I also know that you are a man of action and can make this happen. Thank you for your consideration.”
I will let you know the response as soon as I receive one.
• • •
Let’s head back down to Orlando and check out a few more of the things that caught my attention at the big ICAST convention.
They always say that baits are meant to catch fishermen, and to a point that is true. To me, new baits need to have great paint jobs and very sharp hooks to be worth trying out. Some things look like gimmicks and bring to mind baits like the Flying Lure and the Banjo Minnow. Even though these items gained their fame on infomercials, they truly caught fish. Have you ever seen the episode of Babe Winkelman’s show where he caught tons of monster pike in Canada with Spence Petros on the Banjo Minnow? Argument over.
I saw a good value in Uncle Wesley’s adjustable-depth fishing lures. There are two body styles and a decent assortment of colors available. The baits run at three depths without changing lures. The lip on the front of the lure can be adjusted to three positions to make the lure run either shallow, medium or deep. The lip clicks into position and seems to not want to move on its own. I can definitely see the value in trying these baits. Visit unclewesleys.com for more information.
Scott Burdick and his father are the brains behind Custom Catcher lures. This is truly one of the most ingenious things I have seen in a long time. You can buy a single Custom Catcher or buy the lure as a kit, which is the only way to go. The kit includes the pieces to quickly assemble a variety of different lures. You get heads and tails and hooks and hardware and connectors. These aren’t jigs and tails, they are hard baits. The system is well-built in a fashion where I don’t see the lure coming apart inadvertently under any circumstances. They even have a kit with hard heads and soft rears which is very popular today. Go to customcatcher.com, but make sure you watch the video to get the true effect of what this system does.
• Northwest Herald outdoors columnist Steve Sarley’s radio show, “The Outdoors Experience,” airs lave at 5 a.m. Sundays on AM-560. Sarley also runs a website for outdoors enthusiasts, OExperience.com. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.