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Heartland Outdoors February 2017 Cover


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Recent entries



Elmwood fish pond fully stocked!

Fri, March 03, 2017

It’s always exciting to have a fish pond at the Elmwood All Outdoors Show that includes at least one bruiser of a catfish ... a fish that will outweigh some of the youngsters holding a pole!

That’s this blue catfish, Bluto, held here by fisheries biologist Rob Hilsabeck. You can’t see the gut on this rascal in this picture, but estimates put his weight at 50+ pounds.

rob ad blue cat in pond

In addition to Bluto, there are a few other chunky blue cats, a couple buffalo, some fat largemouth bass and plenty of trout to keep your youngster fishing this weekend in Elmwood. Trout were hauled in courtesy of Nate Herman and the fine folks at Herman Brothers Pond and Land Management.

The fishing pond will be open throughout the Elmwood All Outdoors Show, which is Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults and youngsters age 13 and under are admitted for free.

The pond is one of several attractions at the 8th annual show. Hunters can also enter deer heads Friday (tonight) from 4:30-8 p.m. and Saturday from 9-12 for the big buck contest. And for those who have cool non-deer mounts, there is also a contest that offers a $100 first prize.

The main attraction, though, is the wide variety of more than 90 vendors who will be selling all sorts of outdoors-related items.

We’ve also got seminar speakers, plenty of good food, a silent auction, raffles, a new Kid’s Zone with all sorts of activities for youngsters and much more.

So come on out to Elmwood this Saturday and Sunday (March 4-5).

Tell em Bluto sent you.



Come get your deer measured

Wed, March 01, 2017

I’ve always felt like deer shows should reward hunters for taking the time to bring their bucks to be displayed.

That’s one reason why we like to give away so many prizes to those who enter deer at the Elmwood All Outdoors Show, which celebrates its 8th anniversary this Saturday and Sunday in the Elmwood schools. Part of the show is a big buck display in the high school gym, which to me is one of the highlights of the whole event.

The key to that, of course, is getting entries. So bring yours in! We accept deer Thursday and Friday from 5-8 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon. You can pick your bucks up Sunday after 3 p.m.

While we guarantee 1 in 10 entries will win a prize, the reality is that’s more like 1 in 7. And you don’t have to be the biggest buck to win – you just need luck of the random draw. We also award plaques for largest Archery and Firearm typical and non-typical.

That’s a good reason to attend the show, which in the past seven years has raised more than $175,000 for athletes and athletic programs at Elmwood High School. That’s another good reason. Schools need all the help they can get in this day and age.

Myself, I like the chance to see people you don’t normally get to see and to hang out in the deer measurers room.

One down note this year is that Tim Walmsley, father of the Illinois Deer & Turkey Classic, will not be with us. Tim was supposed to be in the room measuring this weekend, but he suffered a heart attack Monday. And it was a near thing. Modern medicine and doctors aren’t all bad, though. Tough nut that he is, Tim is home and doing well. Within a week I’m sure his wife Bea will have her hands full. This weekend, he will be sorely missed. Having him telling tales in the measuring room always made the weekend more fun. Get well, Tim.

For the rest of you, bring your big bucks to Elmwood and enjoy a quality outdoors show with lots of fishing, hunting and outdoors-related vendors.

For $10 you get your deer measured and a two-day pass to the show.

It will be worth your trip.

Learn more at



Rule change = monster buck

Wed, December 07, 2016

Lyle begner
Thanks to a rule change, Lyle Begner of Peoria Heights has the bowkill of a lifetime.

Hunting Saturday (Dec. 3) during the third day of the second firearm deer season on his father’s farm near Princeville, Begner used his bow to down a 20-point buck.

That Begner was able to hunt with a bow during gun season is thanks to a new rule change implemented by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources this year.

“I had to wear orange and tag it with a shotgun tag and be on private property,” Begner said. “It was kind of a neat thing.”

What made it extra neat for Begner is that he would not have been hunting if not for the rule change.

“I’m more of a bowhunter than a gun hunter,” he said. “I wouldn’t have been hunting if it wasn’t for the rule change.”

As it was, seeing the impressive Peoria County 20-pointer was unexpected. No trail cameras had snapped pictures of the buck and no neighbors had mentioned seeing it, Begner said.

“It just came out of the (Spoon River) bottoms, I guess,” said Begner, who hunts just a quarter-mile from the Spoon.

The memorable hunter had plenty of family ties for Begner, as well.

For one, he was wearing his father’s lucky orange vest.

“He said, ‘Then that’s my deer,’” Begner laughed.

For another, the buck earned Begner top honors in the ongoing family bowhunting pool, which his son Blake had been leading.

“I was only out with the intention of trying to beat my son in the deer contest and then up walked that,” Begner said. “How lucky can someone be.”

Finally, for Begner it was once again a reminder of his late friend Howard Rieck, who first got him into bowhunting 13 years ago.

As for the season overall, Begner said hunting was much better than in the past three years. “We’ve seen a lot more deer and I’ve heard of a lot more big deer,” he said.

Including his own.


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