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Outdoor adventures: The next generation

Well, the final part of the first regular shotgun season here in Illinois is drawing to a close. However, this season might be the most special one I have ever experienced.

Unlike all the rest, this season will find me clad in orange and assisting my 11-year-old daughter on her quest to harvest her first whitetail.

Now, I have had many a great moment  throughout my hunting career, including taking my own first deer and watching my wife kill her first deer. However, this is my little girl we’re talking about, man. This is about good as it gets.

Once she finally got up the nerve to squeeze the trigger on her shotgun and practice enough to be what I refer to as a “responsible hunter,” we purchased her tag, and the excitement has been building ever since.

There is something really, really cool about watching your kids experience the successes and the failures you once did. Especially when they are events that are so near and deer (get it?) to your heart.

I think back to all the big-time mistakes I have made throughout my hunting career when I think about hunting with her. Hopefully she will have far fewer failures than I did. I guess we will see, starting right now.

I still remember my son, Matthew, on his first flathead outing with me. I am not sure if it was beginner’s luck, or if he just had an outstanding guide, but he boated three flatheads in about 8 minutes.

The hardest thing to convince him of after was that it is usually or almost never that easy. I watched him progress from that first trip and those three small flatheads up to the night when he baited, cast and boated his first 20-plus-pound brute all on his own. 

Not to fear if you have not had a chance to cash in on the Illinois deer slaughter bonanza. There are still more tags available. We are so lucky to live in a state where we have an unlimited supply of deer, and where our animals can pay the price for all the mistakes our politicians have made with our dollars.

I think that our state’s slogan should read something like this: “Welcome to Illinois. Kill our animals. Just pay us first.”

Something to that effect, anyway.

It’s no different with my beloved catfish. If you throw in commercial fishing, the catfish is the number one target  fish in the state. You would think there would be some regulation somewhere. I am often asked in my boat what the catfish limit is. I always just giggle a little, especially at the response I get when I say there is no limit. 

I guess I should just run for some office and see If I can change things that way. Wait a second. That sounds like a plan, man. Maybe, just maybe, I could be your next governor. Manage a more equally distributed deer herd. Produce more big fish in our waterways. Make opening days of deer seasons statewide holidays, when all businesses and schools are closed.

And on and on I could go. I guess now I am getting a bit carried away, but I do have a dream.

Anyway, you all have a great week in the outdoors, and I will talk at you next week. Until then, enjoy the Indian summer.

Go Catfish!

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