Outdoors: A few tips and tricks in response to your outdoors questions

Now that armadillos are being found in southern Illinois, I have received questions on how to remove them. It seems the critters are damaging gardens. Most armadillos feed on earthworms and ants, which are difficult to remove from a garden without disturbing the soil.

People may be able to shoot them with a .22 at night, but check local laws, as some critters are protected. Cage trapping would be my preferred method. I would use the largest trap available, normally sold at Farm and Fleet. These are expensive, about $50 apiece, but with reasonable care will last for years. Cut a portion of old pantyhose and fill with overripe fruit, earthworms or mealworms. This you should hang in the rear of the trap. In other words, make them work for the bait.

Again, check with your local Department of Natural Resources for removal or dispatching of the critter.

I also was asked if blue buckets work well for raccoon sets. I don’t believe color makes any difference, as raccoons are colorblind. Make your sets so that they blend in with the surroundings for eye appeal. I use marshmallows with anise extract applied to them. Stand the trap up on end so the bait goes all the way to the bottom. Lay the trap back down and place two baits at the beginning of the trap for eye appeal, and you are done.

Rattlesnake rattles, what are they made of? These objects are the result of hollow scales that grow near the tip of the tail. When the snake vibrates its tail, the scales rattle. Each time it sheds, a new set of rattles appears and can renew twice a year. Warmer climate snakes can shed more than twice a year. There are very few rattlesnakes in northern Illinois.

Best baits for rainy-day bass? This time of year while the bass are spawning, I would try a spinner or topwater bait. You could run this loud bait right over the nest. The bass will become angry and hit the bait to protect its young. Be sure to release the bass you catch for preservation of the species.

Hunting report

I finally found some morel mushrooms, but not like I usually find in numbers. Maybe it was too wet.

Fishing report

Finally, the Illinois River is starting to produce some fish. After being like the Dead Sea, some channel catfish have been caught near Allen Park and near the old rescue squad property. I spoke with some fishermen, and they said they were using night crawlers.

I have seen some minnow activity near the boat ramps this week, and that is a good sign. It was possible that the lack of bait fish contributed to the lack of fish.

• 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.