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Friday, August 31, 2012

Waterfowl Woes

11:06 AM 4 Comments
It's no secret that waterfowl are my passion. This years horrendous drought has had us wondering what kind of waterfowl season we might be looking at here in southern Illinois. Much debate about whether it will be better.. whether it will be worse.. whether we will even see a bird.

As I sit here pondering, rethinking, adjusting strategies, gear, and plans; all because of this damned drought, a press release from Illinois Department of Natural resources lands in my in box, like a goose gliding into the decoys.

However, it was not nearly as warmly received as said goose.

Here is the release in it's entireity:
Message to Waterfowl Hunters 
Due to ongoing drought conditions in Illinois, some farmers are mowing or tilling their unharvested crop fields to collect crop insurance payments.  The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) reminds hunters that the manipulation, including mowing or tilling, of unharvested crop fields is not a normal agricultural practice for waterfowl hunting purposes. The IDNR has received guidance on this issue from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  Federal baiting laws still apply, even during times of drought.  Therefore, it is a violation of the baiting laws under the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act if scattered grain is not totally removed 10 days prior to hunting.  Hunters should familiarize themselves with baiting laws in Illinois.  For more information on waterfowl baiting regulations, refer to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website link regarding baiting regulations at
Questions regarding hunting crop fields mowed or tilled due to drought insurance claims:

1. If a standing grain crop is 100% void of any ears (corn field produced no ears), can the field be mowed then hunted? 
Yes, as long as there is no grain present in the field.  A field that produces NO ears of corn will probably be a rare occurrence.

2. If a standing grain crop has any amount of grain present after it is mowed, can it be hunted? 
No, it is a “baited area” until 10 days after the complete removal of the grain.

3. Can a standing crop that was mowed be disked and made legal for hunting? 
The field can only be hunted after all exposed grain has been completely removed or buried for a period of 10 days.  Hunters should keep in mind that if a dry field is tilled to the extent that no grain is visibly present, strong winds or the first rain is likely to wash off some covered grain, thus still making it a baited situation.

4. Why can a person not hunt over a mowed area? 
Under federal baiting regulations, mowing or tilling of a standing crop is not a “normal agricultural planting, harvesting, post-harvest manipulation, or normal soil stabilization practice” as determined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Cooperative Extension Service.

Below is a link to the pertaining sections of the 2011-2012 Illinois Digest of Hunting and Trapping Regulations that provide additional information on migratory bird hunting and federal baiting regulations. 

For questions about federal baiting regulations, please call 217-782-6431, Monday-Friday 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
For more information on baiting regulations in Illinois:

An here's my initial and albeit knee jerk reaction - GIVE ME BREAK!

It's not as if the drought was anything we could control. It  has been a record setting and historical drought with far reaching implications that are completely beyond hunters' control. Farmers are merely doing what must be done, they are simply trying any and all ways to salvage what is literally a disaster.

Are these "normal agricultural practices" ? Of course not; but nor is this by any stretch of any bureaucratic imagination a normal agricultural year.

Personally, I feel this should have been taken into consideration. I do understand that there are those few bad apples who would use this as  baiting method, use this as "free pass" so to speak to actually perform baiting activities and blame it on a farmer - but MY hope is that those would be rare occurrences.

This mandate essentially wipes several of my hunting areas as I know with the struggles this year's drought has wrought, asking the farmer/landowner to take the extra steps needed to insure that the area is not considered baited is simply just asking too much.

I can see right now that I am going to be hyper vigilant; plan more carefully and inspect hunting areas with an eagle eyed vigilance to insure that I do not inadvertently break any baiting laws.

Just one more waterfowl woe for this upcoming season.

This Duck Junkie just may end up experiencing withdrawals!

Am I alone in my initial thoughts? What say you fellow waterfowlers? Let's talk about this!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Fishing in Style with AFTCO Technical Clothing!

11:20 AM 1 Comments

My fishing apparel has been mostly hand me downs, left overs, and whatever I could scrounge up.  Thanks to AFTCO and the Outdoor Blogger Network, I was thrilled to be chosen to trial and review several items of technical fishing apparel from AFTCO.  I would no longer look like a rag picker when on the water!

I was the lucky recipient of three great pieces; three pieces that for me make up a complete fishing ensemble.  The generous folks at AFTCO supplied me with the following:

After Outdoor Blogger Network announced that I was the lucky winner of the complete set, I was anxious to receive the product and put it through its paces.  AFTCO promptly shipped all items and it was a very short time and I had the great products in my hands.  I should note that the items are from the men’s collection, which initially concerned me regarding fit, but I followed AFTCO’s sizing chart, and found both the shirt and pants to be true to size and despite being a men’s product, they fit my female form surprisingly well.
Without further ado, let’s jump right in!

AFTCO Technical Long Sleeve Vented Fishing Shirt:
This is the ultimate "on the water" apparel for the hard-core fisherman. This classic, long sleeve, technical vented fishing shirt is made of a 100% poly micro rip stop that is so light and comfortable you will hardly know it's on. Despite the fact that I wore it in triple digit temperatures I remained cool, dry, and thanks to the 30+ UV protection, well protected from the sun. After getting caught in a pop up thunderstorm, I noted that the shirt did not have that clammy, sticky, wet feeling and very quickly dried, keeping me comfortable even in inclement weather.
The vented back allowed for plenty of airflow, and the light weight, comfortable material was very breathable in the high humidity conditions I routinely encounter in the Midwestern river bottoms during the peak of summer. There was NO sauna effect with this shirt.
The two big front pockets, one of which features a  hidden zipper pocket, provided ample storage for  the double handfuls of assorted flies, lures, snacks, etc. that I stuffed into them. The closures were secure and I felt my items were safe in the pockets. The hidden zipper pocket proved especially nice for securing my smartphone without fear of it falling out of a pocket at an inopportune place or moment.  The shirt further features a stain resistant coating, UV protection, handy utility loop, full button front, and roll-up sleeve tabs.
The fit was a little roomy, but that only enhanced the comfort and coolness. Sleeves were not overly long on my smaller female frame. It made for a good and attractive fit, despite the fact that it was a men’s model. Overall this shirt gets 5 stars. I would wholeheartedly recommend it for male or female anglers who want comfort, protection from the sun, and handy features all combined in a durable shirt. The only improvements I could suggest would be zip open vented side seams to increase air flow, and the addition of a hidden zipper pocket on both pockets. These are minor details, and shouldn’t be considered faults but rather a wish list on my part. I just found that zippered pocket so darn handy! This has turned into a go to shirt for manay of my outdoor activities other than fishing. The comfort and features just can’t be beat.
When it comes to a great all around fishing technical shirt; don't settle for less, this is going to be the only vented fishing shirt you'll need. With a MSRP of 49.99 this is an affordable shirt that offers great function and features!
On to the Pants! 

AFTCO Original Fishing Pants

AFTCO Original Fishing Pants
The AFTCO original fishing pants from also from the men’s line of performance fishing clothing had me once again a bit concerned regarding fit. I found the fit to be great for me. For a change the inseam length was not so long as to require hemming, or to be flopping around my feet creating a hazard while moving about in the boat. The elastic in the waist made the fit there perfect, and kept them snugly and comfortably in place. Plenty of give for bending, stretching, reaching; but no issues with drooping or the need for “hitching up the britches. The cut is generous enough to don over a pair of shorts or bathing suit and still not be considered binding.  Made from 3-ply supplex nylon, the pants were also  quick to dry following the thunderstorm drenching. While the pants do have a water resistant coating,  they aren’t waterproof and that heavy downpour did leave me soaked. While wearing them on another occasion in a light drizzle I found the water resistant properties to be quite satisfactory.  Features include a stain resistant coating, a cordura lined pliers pocket, which also worked superbly for securing my fishing license and ID; belt loops, zip fly, two back pockets with Velcro secured tabs,  and side entry pockets. This pant also features 10" ankle openings and 8" zippers to allow for an easy pant fit, even over your shoes. The pants get five stars from me as well. Cool, comfortable, easy to care for , good fit and well thought out technical details along with a MSRP of $49.99 make these a must have in your fishing bag! 

AFTCO Lure Sun Mask Buff

AFTCO Lure Sun Mask Buff
Perhaps my favorite of the items was the AFTCO Lure Sun Mask Buff. It’s cool, lightweight, looked great simply around my neck scarf style away from the boat and heading in for dinner.  It can be worn as a fishing buff around the neck, or to cover the bottom of your face and ears, or to completely go over your face and head (so only your eyes will be showing). I wore it a hood, used it to bundle my long hair up off my neck in the heat and humidity, I even was able to fashion it into a “do rag” style to keep my hair contained and the blazing sun off my neck while riding the motorcycle! It takes up a small amount of space, and I now carry it with me everywhere I go, It IS that versatile! This sun mask is the answer to multitude of outdoor skin, face, head protection needs while always keeping that burn off. For all of you fisherman that forget to apply sunscreen, this is your ticket to UV protection. Quick dry, anti-microbial, 100% polyester. Camo + Lure fabric gives this saltwater fishing mask a cool look. Given the versatility of the buff, it’s a steal at the MSRP of $19.99. Five stars and I’ll not leave home without it! Heck since it comes in such a nice camo pattern, I’m even planning to use it as a gaiter/face mask for hunting soon!

Yep, I slimed and stained these pants to the  nth degree!

One thing that truly impressed me about all three products was the ease of care. Since I am often fishing away from home and I like to travel light, I put the products to my version of the wash and wear test.  I was easily able to rinse them clean- even though the pants were especially stained and messy looking from blue mud, blue green algae stains, fish blood and slime; simply running them along with the shirt and buff through the sink by hand with a little detergent rendered them looking clean as new.  I hand wrung them out and threw over the towel bar. They dried quickly and looked good as new when I headed out the next morning. Big thumbs for the care and portability. I’d go so far as to hazard a guess that these could be washed clean creek or river side and be ready to hit the water come morning looking fresh and clean for any great fishing photo ops that might come along.
All the way around great and affordable products that are especially well suited for a variety of conditions and that travel well. What more could an angler ask for? With this set in your bag you have half your travel wardrobe ready!

Be sure to visit AFTCO’s web site for a look at the entire line of fishing technical apparel! 

As with all reviews on Walkin’ with the Wild Woman, the above review is my honest opinion, I received the AFTCO fishing apparel free of charge and agreed to provide a review in exchange.  Walkin with the Wild Woman  is not sponsored by or associated with AFTCO and is accepting no other compensation, monetary or otherwise, in exchange for this review.