Chicago Outdoor Sports Show 2016

The News Outside

Brackett bucks wisdom on CWD, Post-Gazette, Feb 10

CWD a threat to deer, Bob Groene, Feb 10

Catching ice-out crappies, Don Gasaway, Feb 10

Illinois water access laws confusing, Bob Groene, Jan 28

Schaumbug show opens today, Dale Bowman, Jan 27



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Recent entries


Through the Lens

Bowfishing Community Mourns Loss of two Bowfishers

Sat, February 13, 2016

The Bowfishing Association of America and bowfishers across the nation wish to extend their deepest sympathies to the friends and families of two fellow bowfishers Joe Greenway and Anthony Mayfield who tragically lost their lives in a boating accident on Lake Maumelle in Arkansas on February 10th.

This sad news reminds all of us that life is short and we never know when we leave the ramp what our day may hold.
Please join bowfishers across the nation in prayers for the friends and families of our recently lost bowfishing brothers.


Will the ATA Grand Return to Sparta in 2016?

Thu, January 14, 2016

A press conference has been scheduled for January 15, 2016 at 3:00 PM at the World Shooting & Recreational Complex (WSRC) Main Event Center for a public announcement regarding the status of the WSRC and the Amateur Trapshooting Association’s (ATA) annual trapshooting championship, the Grand American.

Present at the press conference will be Illinois State Representative Jerry Costello II, Illinois State Senator David Luechtefeld, Representatives from Governor Bruce Rauner’s Office, IDNR Representatives, ATA President Wayne Morris, ATA Office Staff, Randolph County Commissioners, Randolph County Economic Development Officials, & Municipal Officials.

As Heartland reported in a September post - This Makes No Sense -  all types of target shooting were suspended at the Complex on September 30, 2015. Essentially everything was closed, signs were erected stating the site was closed to the public except for the boat ramps, and the full time on site vendors. The restaurant, event center, and year round vendors have remained open, but due to the Illinois budget issue, shooting was suspended.

The 2016 Grand American is scheduled for August 3-13. The suspension of all shooting events at the WSRC has put this event in jeopardy. Additionally, local businesses would be at a financial loss due to over 10,000 people attending the event in an alternate location. A 2013 study estimated that the annual economic impact of the Grand American alone was $10-$12 million to the area.

Since the closure of the complex, IDNR employees have remained on staff and continued to report to work.

Now we learn that a tentative agreement between the ATA and IDNR has been reached. While the details of that agreement won’t be fully understood or made public until tomorrow, it has been reported in communications to ATA members and clubs that the agreement or addendum to the current contract that ATA has with IDNR will allow ATA to manage and operate the complex during the months of June, July, and August in an effort to accommodate the ATA Grand , AIM, SCTP Nationals, SCTP IL and perhaps the US Open. Specific details of the agreement hopefully will be announced at the press conference tomorrow.

As for me - I have to ask - who will really control the site during those months? Will it be open and operational for the general public or only for ATA related events? What role will DNR play? Will IDNR employees during that period be under the direct supervision of ATA or IDNR?

What will AFSCME have to say about this latest development?

While on the surface this looks like a great move to keep the ATA Grand and it’s associated revenue and tax dollars in southern IL but is it going to end up as privitization of the World Shooting and Recreational Complex? Will it become an odd hybrid site that is managed by both ATA and IDNR.

One has to wonder, in effort to pacify southern Illinois lawmakers and residents will the proverbial “keys to the kingdom” be handed off to ATA, while IL taxpayers continue to pay for the upkeep, maintenance, and staffing of the site while only available for ATA use?

We’ll find tomorrow just what lies in store for the World Shooting and Recreational Complex. Anyone want to make any bets this won’t make any more sense in the end than the closure plan?

Stay tuned Heartland friends - you’ll know the specifics as soon I can get to computer after the conference!



Give the Gift of Conservation

Tue, December 22, 2015

Are you looking for a quick and easy last minute gift for the nature lover on your list?  A great gift for anyone who values and loves the outdoors is a Federal Duck Stamp. Even if that person on your list already has one that they are using to hunt with, and extra to keep as part of a collection is always welcome.  A Federal Duck Stamp is inexpensive, it’s beautiful, it’s easy to purchase and send, and it helps conserve our most loved wild spaces and species.

While a requirement for hunters, the Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp—more commonly known as the “duck stamp”— offers us the best bang for our buck for conservation, and just could be the most important investment you make conservation this year.

Another important factor about the Federal Duck Stamp, is that it represents even more than just something we need to have for hunting. We often complain that nonconsumptive users (bird watchers, photographers, hikers, etc.) reap the benefits that our hunting license and stamp fees provide for free. At a time when so much divides the hunters and non hunting communities, a duck stamp creates a bridge between hunters and nonconsumptive wildlife fans. It gives the nonconsumptive users a great method to help “pay their way” in a similar fashion to hunters.

Every year, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service-sponsored contest is held, in which one image of a duck or ducks is chosen to be put on the annual duck stamp. This contest is the only federally mandated, judged art competition. Although the winning artist receives no prize money, winners retain the right to sell their original paintings, market limited-edition prints, and otherwise license their work.

Waterfowl hunters 16 years of age and older must annually purchase a duck stamp and are required to affix this self-adhesive, $25.00 stamp to their hunting licenses in order to legally harvest migratory waterfowl. Nonconsumptive users however, often purchase a duck stamp in order to gain free entry for for an entire year into any fee-collecting U.S. national wildlife refuge; while collectors, on the other hand, purchase the stamps as keepsakes.

Perhaps the most important part of all is that approximately 98 cents of every duck stamp dollar goes directly into the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund to purchase wetlands and wildlife habitat for inclusion into the National Wildlife Refuge System, ensuring that there will be protected lands for wildlife, for us, and for future generations to enjoy.

Hunters and our nonconsumptive nature loving friends alike are worried about the dwindling dollars available for wetland conservation. More of these birders, hikers, walkers, wildlife photographers, outdoor aficionados, and nature travelers, need to be duck stamp purchasers!

By giving the gift of a Federal Duck Stamp, YOU can help build the bridge between a nonconsumptive user and the hunting community. Let us not forget. we are ALL stakeholders in our public lands. 

Factor in the collectors value that Federal Duck Stamps acquire, giving a young person a Federal Duck Stamp is an excellent way to help them build a collection that will be valuable in the future as well as educating them about the importance of conservation.

If you still aren’t convinced, consider the following from Rachel Levine, USFWS

By giving the gift of a Federal Duck Stamp you can…..
… Spread Joy: The joy of doing good for people and the outdoor world they love. The joy of spreading holiday music - the honk of geese, the trill of blackbirds, the whisper of wind through the marsh grass.
… Give Food and Shelter for Wildlife: Lands purchased with Federal Duck Stamp revenue provide habitat for ducks, geese and other wildlife. While partridges and turtledoves might not necessarily frequent wetlands secured with your $15 Duck Stamp purchase, it’s nice to know they could do so in a pinch.
… Find a Ticket to Adventure: A current Federal Duck Stamp provides its owner free admission to any national wildlife refuge that normally charges an entrance fee. The stamp is also required for waterfowl hunting.
… Make a Solid Investment: You can take pride in the fact that 98 cents of every dollar of Duck Stamp revenue goes directly to purchasing or leasing wetland habitat for the National Wildlife Refuge System – more than 6 million acres has been acquired since 1934!
… “Pay it Forward” to the Next Generation: If you want to help ensure a place for our nation’s children to watch birds, hunt, hike and spend quality time outdoors, giving Federal Duck Stamps is a wise investment.
… Inspire the Conservationists of Tomorrow: At $5, Junior Duck Stamps make perfect gifts for the youngsters in your life, or for anyone who cares about nurturing a new generation of conservation stewards. Junior Duck Stamp proceeds benefit environmental education programs for children from Kindergarten through high school.

You can buy Duck Stamps and Junior Duck Stamps online, and Federal Duck Stamps are available at many post office and sporting goods stores. Go to all of the purchasing options.

To really jazz up the stamp, purchase an inexpensive acrylic key chain photo holder for the recipient to place their duck stamp in for protection and ease of carrying on their person. The Friends of the Migratory Bird Stamp offer them for sale along with resources that can help you find the correct type and size at

So save yourself the headache of vacillating over those last minute gifts and give the gift of conservation!



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