August 2, 2008

Back to School? Try Back Outdoors


If you want to hear a collective whine, just mention school is almost starting. Both kids and parents will voice their angst unless you offer fun ways to wrap up the rest of the summer or give a glimmer of hope for the coming weekends. Here are a couple of ways to help make the start of school more amiable for outdoors-oriented kids and parents.

The Down River Bowfishing Club has teamed up with Hovey Lake Fish & Wildlife Area to host a Youth Bowfishing Event for those 17 and under. It all begins at noon on Aug. 9 at Hovey's parking lot with a quick class on bowfishing basics and proper use of the equipment. Then the group will do a bit of bow target-shooting and enjoy a bowfishing exercise along the banks of the lake.

After that, there will be boat rides and (depending on weather, parent permission and general shooting skills) a chance for some actual mid-lake bowfishing for the myriads of alien carp and rough fish now inhabiting Hovey Lake.

Participants must pre-register by dropping by Hovey's office or calling 812-838-2927. The event is free and all participating youth's must have a parent/guardian in tow.

The Down River Bowfishing Club reminds everyone interested in joining or learning more about this fast paced sport to attend their open membership meeting at 6:30 p.m. at Gander Mountain Sporting Goods in Evansville. Call Jason Greer at 812-471-0400.

A second outdoors opportunity is a less than a tank of gas roundtrip ticket to camping, fishing, hunting and good food.

One of Illinois' best-kept secrets is Red Hills State Park situated approximately 50 miles from Evansville on Highwayt 50 near Sumner. The park offers miles of hiking trails interspersed with volleyball and basketball courts around a big, tree lined lake well stocked with red ear, bluegill, catfish crappie and bass.

Many panfish spawning beds are located near the Trace Inn Restaurant and Gift Shop so shorebound anglers can have good action. Lake rules prohibit gasoline-powered motors so bring a couple of well-charged batteries to push your electric motors farther out. Non- residents can usually purchase state fishing and hunting licenses at the park office.

Red Hills also has picnic shelters, playgrounds and a dedicated nature preserve. Those making a day trip or campers not wanting to cook should head for the Trace Inn. If you like to camp but don't like roughing it, Red Hills has one Class A rental cabin which accommodates up to eight people and is handicapped accessible. The cabin has heating and air conditioning with restrooms and water provided in the shower building. Bed and table linens, refrigeration and kitchen ware are not provided.

This rental unit is popular and many dates are already reserved. However, there are dates still available, especially week days.

Red Hills doesn't have any swimming areas but offers other amenities such as horse riding trails and hunting around the park in selected areas. For general information check with park superintendant Carl Aten at [email protected] or phone 618- 936-2469. This is a good place to enjoy this summer as well as year round.

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