Outdoors

Name the bunches of critters

In researching an article on eagles, I remembered a group of them was not technically called a flock. So, I researched the proper English terms for collective groups of animals, and sure enough … a group of eagles is known as a convocation! Some of the English naming of collective animal groups goes back hundreds […]

Ice fishing-On thin ice

On thin ice

So far this winter, ice fishing in Illinois and most of the Midwest has been a bust. Continued up and down warming trends have kept all but some extreme northern locations free of ice suitable for fishing. But hang onto your long johns, colder days are ahead and sure to bring Arctic blasts and safe […]

Dining like the Ancient Ones

With the chill in the air, my wife Chris and I were in the notion for some down home, satisfying, comfort food. Nothing is more country and down home than good old fashion beans and cornbread. Yes, I’m talking really old fashion as we’re not cooking up modern-day beans, we would be dining like the Ancient […]

A second life for holiday trees

Do you have a real Christmas tree? Once the holiday is over, what will you do with it? If you live in town, you can put it out for pick up, but it will likely never have a useful purpose again. However, if you live in a rural area, there are options that will provide a […]

When critters become a nuisance

Many homeowners like being able to see wildlife around their yards. Some will create habitats to encourage the presence of birds and animals. However, sometimes good intentions result in attracting unwanted wildlife or having them invade a home. Taking a few preventative measures will decrease the chances of this happening. To keep squirrels and raccoons from […]

Persimmons – a fall delicacy

It is the time of year when persimmons begin falling to the ground. Just about every living creature from birds, skunks, possums, raccoons, deer and mankind will search, gather and eat persimmons before they are gone for another year. According to old-timers, persimmon seeds can be used to predict the severity of winter weather. When cut […]

Gathering and enjoying hickory nuts

As a child, I remember sitting in my grandpa’s garage watching him take a hammer to hickory nuts. At that time, I had no idea what he was doing and when I tried I always ended up smacking my fingers with the hammer as the little hickory nut slipped out of my fingers at the last […]

Fish food for thought

When the fish aren’t biting, find out what they bite. That’s the motto I live by. For me, fish are often not biting, at least not biting frequently enough to keep me engaged. Anticipation does not motivate me whenever I’m casting a lure redundantly or watching a bobber interminably. So, I grab my dip net (a […]

A burning question

Most people enjoy seeing prairie restorations take place. After establishment, viewing a lush prairie with grasses and wildflowers is soothing to the soul. In the early 1800s, Illinois had more than 20 million acres of prairie, which was established thousands of years ago after the last ice age ended. The root systems of prairie added huge […]

Take the kitchen outside

Cooking over an open fire used to be the natural way to prepare food. Something about a meal cooked outside over a campfire just seems to taste better. There are several methods for outdoor cooking, but first let’s look at the basics: heat source, location and wind. Heat source Campfire cooking requires a clean-burning, hot fire […]