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Winkeler: Of fall, optimism, youth and moving

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Streams of unconsciousness from the world of the outdoors:

Signs of fall: Have you seen them?

They might not hit you over the head, but there are subtle signs that summer is coming to a close.

There are chips of acorn shells on my driveway every morning …

The buckeye tree in my front yard is starting to shed leaves …

Some of the brightest birds of summer are starting to look a bit tattered …

The tomato plants in my garden are beginning to shrivel, regardless of my watering regime …

The inevitable march of time … there’s no stopping it.

Optimism abounds: I spent considerable time at the World Shooting and Recreational Complex during the recently completed Grand American.

The consensus among shooters and officials of the Amateur Trapshooting Association that the spat between Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Illinois General Assembly is just that … a spat.

The ATA, and the shooters, fully expect to be back in Sparta next year.

My gut feeling says they’re right. On the other hand, this is Illinois.

Speaking of Sparta: If this year’s Grand American is any indication, the demographics of the trapshooting world may be shifting … and, that’s a good thing.

I couldn’t hazard a guess as to the average age of an ATA member. Suffice it to say, that most shooters at the Grand don’t have worry about being carded if they attempt to purchase an adult beverage.

Yet, youngsters like Herrin’s Ian Lawrence made a splash this year. The 13-year-old won two events, not his age group, but two actual events during the 10-day shoot.

It didn’t go unnoticed.

When waiting for the finalists of the Grand American Handicap to be announced, I heard one shooter ask somewhat sarcastically about the number of sub-junior shooters in the shoot-offs.

For the record, there were none. But, shooters have taken note of the next generation’s success.

Moving day: This is the final week the Southern Illinoisan will publish the outdoors page on Friday. Beginning next week, Outdoors will appear on Thursday.

The move means there will be less conflict with football and basketball coverage.

LES WINKELER is the outdoors writer for The Southern Illinoisan. Contact him at les.winkeler@thesouthern.com, or call 618-351-5088 / On Twitter @Les Winkeler.

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