Williamson County is the premier outdoor destination for fishermen in Southern Illinois. It attracts professional and amateur fishermen alike with the popular lakes, annual fishing tournaments, and year-round fishing opportunities. From the well-known 7,000-acre Crab Orchard Lake and 2,300-acre Lake of Egypt to the 30-acre Arrowhead Lake and everything in between, fishermen relish in the abundance of largemouth bass, crappie, bluegill, channel catfish and other popular species being caught in southern Illinois.
Williamson County has some of the finest outdoor beauty in the region. Game birds, waterfowl, deer, turkey, and small game hunting in the Midwest, thanks to our mix of popular flyways, lakes, hardwood forests, cropland, wetlands, river bottom topography, and nearby Shawnee National Forest and Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge. Ducks and geese have long been the most popular species to hunt here, and public hunting grounds abound. There are also at least 5 private hunt clubs operating in Williamson County that provides a wide range of services for the optimum waterfowl hunting experience.
Southern Illinois Aerial Waterfowl Surveys
FEATURED OUTDOOR ARTICLE
WINTER CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES
By Don Gasaway
Coyotes have a tough time finding food in winter but wildlife watchers are more apt to see them.
A red fox dives for fleeing mice in field of brown grass. An eagle soars overhead calling to its mate with a shrill scream. A white-tailed deer browses on the edge of a thicket. Canada geese rest in the wetlands. This is Illinois at its wildest.
The woods and fields are alive with wildlife. Nature lovers can find all sorts of birds and animals to watch throughout the county. Especially popular is bird watching and eagle tours. But, other areas can provide equally interesting viewing.
A variety of vegetation and terrain in this area attracts and holds numerous species of birds and mammals. Two hundred and thirty-seven species of birds are resident, migrants, or frequent visitors.
Watching wildlife does not take a lot of expensive gear. Binoculars and some guide books are a good beginning. Field guides assist in the identification and help at home when reviewing one’s notes from a day afield.
When heading out, be sure to take a notebook. Field notes should include the date, location, weather conditions and animal behavior, along with any unique observations.
Beginners must learn to identify animals and birds by sight and sound. Noting the color, shape and other outstanding observations make it easier to identify species.
Familiarize yourself with animal behavior and favored habitats. For example, deer tend to prefer thick cover until late in the day when they move out into fields to feed.
Learn to recognize animal habitats. This knowledge assists in the identification and helps to eliminate species not associated with a specific habitat.
Advanced wildlife watchers learn the calls and songs of mammals or birds. This helps to identify those species hidden in dense cover. By familiarizing oneself with bird songs and mammal calls, one can chase down each sound until he discovers the source.
The direct approach is not the best way to seek out wildlife. Wild animals must always be wary of possible danger and when an intruder comes straight at them it usually is a signal of a threat. By acting disinterested while sneaking a glance now and then, you may be able to observe the unfolding drama of their activities.
It is important to be patient and avoid direct attention to the animal encountered. Appear disinterested. Fiddle with vegetation, look away from the animal while moving slowly closer and you will be able to approach much closer than you would think. Staring at an animal causes them fear and uneasiness. Quick looks are much less obvious and less likely to make the animal nervous.
Some animals such as ducks and geese can become very approachable due to constant association with human activity. Some animals are so skittish that the first hint of the presence of humans sends them fleeing.
Generally, however, the use of patience in observing wildlife works well. It will result in closer views for you and less intimidation for the animal. Watching wildlife can be challenging and educational.