Outdoors

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 […]

IndianabatPhotoDan-Kirk

Seeing into the dark

  In a wooded area at Warbler Ridge, a few brave souls sit still and silent, enduring the sweltering mid-summer heat and hungry mosquitos. No campfire glows or flashlight shines as they face into the setting sun and wait for bats, nocturnal flying mammals. The location was determined by researchers from the Illinois Bat Conservation […]

Camping season is upon us

Children will soon be out of school for summer vacation. Temperatures are warming up, and the days are longer. For many, this month will include the first camping trip of the year. Camping can either be a disaster or provide some great memories. What you do to prepare will determine if the experience is a good […]

The quest for elusive morels

Hunting morels in the spring can be enjoyed by the entire family. Carrying a bag with you while in the woods and coming home with it full of edible mushrooms will quickly make you the most popular person among your family and friends. When morels start popping up, a hunter will only have about 10 days […]

Enjoying maple syrup

If you are anything like me, the winter blues are beginning to take a toll. Outside activities may be limited, but now is the time to collect maple syrup. We might not live in Vermont, a state known for its pure maple syrup, but in the Midwest, maple syrup is not that far away. It might […]

Ice Fishing

Staying safe on the ice this winter

Ice fishing is supposed to be a good time during the winter months, while we wait for the first signs of thaw to arrive. However, every year ice fishermen fall victim to ice and the dangers of falling through, not knowing what measures to take if the worst-case scenario happens. There are precautions an outdoorsman […]

Turkey and all the fixings

Years ago, when I was a newlywed and newly transplanted from the city to the farm, I was called upon to cook the holiday meal for the entire family. I announced to my mother, via long distance phone conversation, that I would be serving venison from the deer my husband had harvested during hunting season. In […]