EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the last installment of a three-part series.
In the 1970s, when lead shot poisoning became an environmental issue, hundreds of hours of research on crippling waterfowl was conducted at Nilo farms in Brighton.
Herman Bockstruck, head of ballistics, published his team’s findings and determined crippling far outweighed the lead poisoning issue. This led to further research and development of the effective, non-toxic loads used in today’s sport of waterfowl hunting.
John M. Olin lived into his 90th year before passing away in 1982. During his life, he entertained royalty, hosted four U.S. presidents in his home, established Olin Corporation as a front-runner in industry and made Winchester Arms and Ammunition the leader in outdoors America.
Recognized as a master inventor, his name appeared on more than 20 patents, many dealing with Super X advancements. His other accomplishments are far too numerous to list but Olin’s pride and joy was his farm, kennels and the pleasure and purpose they contributed to so many.
Wisely, the Winchester Division of Olin Industries has seen fit to continue the legacy of Nilo Farms. Current manager Roger Jones agrees.
“Nilo is special,” Jones says. “It really hasn’t changed much over my almost 30 years on the staff. We did add a sporting clays course, but physically it’s still the same, a one-of-a- kind.”
Ed Campion has been on the Nilo staff for 40 years, Dennis Taylor for more than 30 years and Dean Pitts for 20-plus years. They are proud to carry on the tradition. Jones was asked to name the most impressive of all famous people who’ve visited Nilo. Without hesitation, he mentions Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, the leader of Desert Storm.
“He was not only a gentleman, but I could tell he loves America and loves to hunt,” Jones said. “I’ll always cherish the two days we spent together.”
Nilo is an accredited Illinois shooting preserve and serves nearly 1,000 registered hunters during the six-month season from mid-October until the end of March.
The Ronald McDonald House, Boy Scouts of America, Ducks Unlimited and other special interest groups contract Nilo to host fund-raising shoots.
Since 1971, when President Richard Nixon declared the last Saturday of September to be National Hunting and Fishing Day, Nilo hosts the public to an unrivaled celebration. The grounds’ participants are clad in camo as thousands take part in shooting, archery, dog demonstrations and a wide variety of outdoor entertainment. Young people are the target market of the event in hopes they will start an outdoor adventure to last a lifetime. Hunting and shooting safety remains the main focus of the farm as individual and corporate groups fill the hunting calendar. For more information, visit the Nilo website at http://www.nilofarms.com/.
Larry Reid is host of “Outdoors with Larry Reid” which airs Sundays at noon on WBGZ Radio, 1570 AM.