Archive for the ‘Hiking’ Tag

CONCEALED CARRY AND THE OUTDOORSMAN   1 comment

Kevin and his two pre-teen sons find a scenic camping location with a waterfowl in a remote location. As they pitch their tent, have dinner over an open fire and settle in for the night, four drunken teens announce their presence.  The location is a favorite drinking location for them.

The teens, embolden by their drinking decide to evict the family. As the discussion becomes more threatening and the teens encroach on the campsite.  Kevin pulls his pistol and points it suggesting that perhaps the teens may want to find another location.  They decide to leave rather than risk a shot from an angry father.

Once the invaders are safely out of sight, Kevin packs up his children and gear. They safely leave what could have been a very serious situation.

This parent protected his family thanks to his right to concealed carry.

Stories such as this spotlight the need for concealed carry for the outdoor recreationist as well as potential victims of crime in urban areas.

However, before you carry your concealed weapon on your next outing there is some precautions needed.

To begin with some states have laws prohibiting carrying while in the field. For instance a state might ban bowhunters from carrying a firearm in the field regardless of the reason.  Some governmental agencies prohibit handguns at all times on their parks and refuges.  Still other states do not recognize concealed carry permit from other states.  This is reciprocity.

If you are traveling from one state to another it is important to know the law in all the states through which you are traveling. Your permit might be valid in your home state and the destination state but you might be traveling through another state where it is not valid.

How can you keep up with the ever changing laws that might affect your carrying protection while in the field? One of the best sources of current information regarding concealed carry is the website of United States Concealed Carry Association (www.USCCA.com).

They also have an App there as well so that you can access the information on your phone while in the field.

One of the easiest ways to get information on reciprocity is the State Reciprocity Map (www.usconcealedcarry.com/travel/).

Another valuable website is the Safe Gun Travel site (www.safeguntravel.com/).

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HIKING AND FISHING IN SOUTHERN ILLINOIS   3 comments

Shawnee Forest 0001

One of the nicer ways to enjoy a fall hike though beautiful Williamson County and southern Illinois is to fish along the way.  Mild weather and striking foliage add to the experience.  The many streams, lakes, and ponds provide an enjoyable outdoor experience for both the day hiker and the backpack camper.

Between the state and federal governments, there are more than 400,000 acres of public land south of Interstate 64.  This also includes bodies of water such as Kinkaid Lake, Crab Orchard Lake, Cedar Lake, Lake Murphysboro, Devils Kitchen Lake, Little Grassy Lake, Lake of Egypt, Horseshoe Lake, Lake Glendale, Mermet Lake, Rend Lake, and Ponds Hollow Lake.

Some of the fish species found include bass, crappie, catfish, bluegill and sunfish.  Additional species found in specific waters are carp, drum, Muskie, striped and white bass, hybrid bass, and pike.  Devil’s Kitchen also contains trout, both rainbow and brown.

Most hiking trails in southern Illinois are easy to moderate in difficulty.  Hiking them is not too strenuous if one takes a few precautions and is in moderately good physical shape.  The trails pass though valleys and level terrain with hills and ridge tops.  This is not to say that there is not rough terrain, only that the trails are not rough.

With a good map and guide book, the average hiker/fisherman can find some excellent wilderness fishing.  Maps and guide books are available at camping supply, book stores and bait shops throughout the area.  The Williamson County Fishing Guide (info@visitsi.com) is helpful.  Publications and websites of governmental agencies such as U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Forest Service are also good resources.

Gear selection is also important.  Give primary consideration to your feet.  Hiking boots are a good idea and there are a number of very good ones on the market.  They should be well broken in before taking to the trail.  Wear them around home or work for a day or two and they will get broken in more quickly.  Short walks around the neighborhood will soon tell whether they are broken in enough for the trail.  The walk also helps increase your stamina.

When hiking it is a good idea to wear cotton fabrics and acrylic stockings.  The loose-fitting clothing is cooler.  Tuck pants legs inside the stockings and wear long sleeves if possible to prevent insect bites.  Brimmed hats are popular to shield the head from the sun.

Insect repellent and sun blocker is a good idea.  Insects can be a nuisance during the summer months.  A pocket size first aid kit or at least some band aids are a good bit of insurance for accidents.

Place the above items in a small knapsack or book bag.  To that, add a small tackle box containing your terminal tackle and lures.  There are a number of companies making those small (4″X 6″) plastic boxes that are available anywhere fishing gear is sold.  The little compartments keep the different types of lures, floats, hooks and sinkers separate.

Light is best when hiking with fishing gear.  What seems like nothing at the beginning of a hike can become much heavier as the day wears on.  A small rod and reel is a good idea.  There are a number of ultra-light rod and reel set-ups on the market.  Some even break down so as to be stored in a backpack.

Fishing line for this light rig should be something in the 4-pound range.  Heavier line does not work as well for casting from ultra-light rods.  A few crankbaits and leadhead jigs and a bunch of light color curlytails will last a long time carried in the tackle boxes.  Fish the Jigs slowly.  With a little practice it is possible to retrieve the jigs at the exact speed that gives the curlytail the motion it needs.

Hiking and fishing is great for the soul.  The peace and quiet of the big woods as well as the physical exercise gives one a peace of mind.  Late fall in southern Illinois is beautiful.

A HIKE FOR ANGLERS   2 comments

Probably the oldest symbol of fishing is the barefoot little boy walking along with a cane pole and a can of worms.  Many modern anglers are beginning to find that enjoyment again.  No they are not barefoot, but they are hiking and fishing.

The large tracts of land in public areas contain small ponds and streams with fish populations available to hiking anglers.  State parks and national forests are another area where opportunities exist.

Fall is a good time to hike in the woods.  The days are warm and the nights cool.  The insects can be a problem.  Fishing can be good all year around.

Often there are a number of marked trails in the woods as well as miles of gravel and blacktop roads.  Some of the marked trails lead to or near fishing areas.  More detailed description of trials and fishing areas are usually available locally from highway departments as well as local fish and game officials.  Local county highway departments often have maps available for a few dollars.

Most trials in national forests are easy to moderate in difficulty.  Hiking is not a strenuous activity if one takes a few precautions and is in moderately good physical shape.  Most trails will pass through valleys and level terrain with hills and ridge tops.  This is not to say that there is not rough terrain, or that the trails are not rough.

Due in part to fiscal considerations, some trails could be better marked.  That would be a good project for a conservation or church group to consider.

Still with a map and common sense, the hiker/angler can find some excellent wilderness fishing.

Assuming you select a place to hike and fish it is time to consider the gear for your use.  One of the first considerations is the feet.  Hiking boots are a good idea, and there are a number of very fine ones on the market at moderate prices.  They should be well broken‑in before hiking.  Wear them for everyday wear.  A number of short hikes around the neighborhood will help break them in as well as increase your own stamina.

Other clothing should include cotton or acrylic stockings and loose clothing.  Long pants and sleeves are best to prevent insect bites and scratches from the vegetation.  A wide-brimmed hat is preferred.

Insect repellent is good during those times when the mosquitos and ticks are a problem.  A pocket sized first aid kit or at least a couple of Band‑Aids are a good idea.

As for the fishing tackle the lighter the better.  A small backpacking rod and reel is a very good idea.  There are a number of them on the market.  Most are ultra-light spinning rod and reel set‑ups.  They do not take up much room in a day pack and are just for such a purpose.

Usually, a line of two‑ to six‑pound test is best.  Heavier line does not work well casting from these rods.  Small plastic tackle boxes (4X6 inches) are ideal for holding the terminal tackle.  They have small compartment to hold jigs and small crankbaits as well as floats, hooks and sinkers.  Live bait is a bit of a problem to carry while hiking, so one would be better off with plastic lures.

One rig that seems to work well wherever one travels is a white curlytail jig.  A few leadhead jigs and a bunch of white curlytails will last a hiker a long time.  Fish the jig in a slow presentation.  Retrieve it so slowly that the curlytail barely has motion to it for good results.

Some water or soda, and snacks round out the equipment needed to enjoy fishing and hiking in the woods.

Hiking and fishing have both traveled a long way since the days of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer.  One can still enjoy this pastime wherever you live.

 

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