Outdoors: Some of the old hills and hollows

I used to always look south on my return from work at Caterpillar down on the Illinois River valley after leaving Interstate 80. Looking at all the timber and ravines and far below the Illinois River, I used to think there are not very many pieces of timber or fields left that I had not been in over the years.

Before I was 18 years old, most timbered areas were open to hunting and riverfronts for fishing. One particular area I fondly remember was the Richman’s Creek area. My dad corrected me on that location, telling me that the right name for that waterway was the Wallbridge Creek. This creek ran from below U.S. Route 6 almost all the way to Interstate 80. The timber did as well. It contained deer, squirrels, coyote, rabbits and a variety of edible mushrooms.

Back then, a portion of that land was owned by Vincente Obriey. One didn’t worry much about permission to hunt or fish on any farmer’s land back then, as most everyone knew you being from a small community. The family were members of St. Joseph’s Parish, and I was an altar boy, so they thought I was a saint. I hunted that land well into my 40s. A new family bought the property after that, and then no hunting was allowed.

My dad was right about the name of that piece of property, as one day during a squirrel hunt, I discovered an old cemetery. The names on the old tombstones were still readable and clearly stated Wallbridge. Some of the family died very young, and we assumed they passed away from smallpox. That was a fatal sickness back then, along with the flu. There were many of those old cemeteries in timbered areas back then. Another was located in Grundy County south of the Illinois River. I still feel bad that I didn’t take some photos of those cemeteries. Most all of the land now is private, and hunting is not allowed.

When I take a boat ride up the river, I look fondly on many of those areas where I used to hunt and almost shed a tear. I guess I was blessed to be able to walk upon many of those lands. How things have changed.

Hunting report

I found some small stalks of asparagus but didn’t dig them, as I wanted to let them get larger. I also found some good patches of dandelions that, when mixed with hard-boiled eggs, oil and vinegar, make a fine salad. There were a few more pheasant back mushrooms, and they were a little larger than a week ago. I brought them home as well.

Fishing report

Between constant rain, wind and muddy water, most river systems are poor for fishing at this time. I did take a few nice bluegill out of farm ponds last week. Small red worms or wax worms were the best baits. The Canada geese have all but taken over the area ponds.

Cooling lake action has been limited to bank fishing, as the wind has been blowing hard every day. I had one good day on LaSalle Lake a week ago Thursday, but I had to travel all over the lake to find fish. Finally, at 60-degree water temps, we did take our fair share of channel catfish.

• Fred Krause is a Shaw Media correspondent.

Fred Krause

Fred Krause

Fred is an avid outdoorsman who has been writing about his passion for decades.