I had some suggestions from readers, including a real good one from Mark Pawlowski, after posting the first Illinois Hunting Report on Tuesday, so here it goes with some updates. If you have more suggestions, post in the comments or email me at email@example.com.
In a perfect year, we would see even more doves on lines like this. Obviously, the big news this week is opening day on Monday, Sept. 1, for dove and early September Canada goose, particularly the opening of dove season.
I added a couple sites to the dove preview and may add a couple more later today.
ILLINOIS HUNTING ONLINE
For IDNR hunting info, click here.
For the Illinois 2008-09 Digest of Hunting & Trapping Regulations, click here.
For the 2008-09 Digest of Waterfowl Hunting Regulations, click here.
For Illinois crop reports (generally posted Monday afternoons), click here.
Season opens Monday. Daily bag is 15.
My guess from roaming rural roads across central and northern Illinois the past two weeks is that dove numbers are not record-breaking but OK. That could improve rapidly with a good push of a day or two, and there's some indication that is happening.
Biologist John Cole sent this assessment and some recommendations based on those assessments:
``Dove call counts routes are conducted by the US Fish and Wildlife Service in May; Breeding Bird Surveys are conducted by USFWS in June and IDNR conducts visual surveys in August. May call counts routes declined 26% from 2007 to 2008. June breeding bird surveys declined 17% from 07 to 08 and August visual counts by IDNR declined 16% from 07 to 08.
``I would attribute the decline to last year's cold snowy winter in the Midwest and the cool wet weather early in this year's nesting season. A decline of this size may or may not be noticeable to hunters in the field. A problem that may significantly affect hunters will be the condition of sunflower fields planted for dove hunting on state and private land. Many fields were planted late or not planted due to the wet spring we experienced. I would advise hunters to call ahead to their favorite site to check the condition of sunflower fields.
``If you don't have access to good sunflowers, wait till corn and soybean harvest begins in your area and try hunting recently harvested fields. Success can be improved under these conditions by using decoys.''
State waterfowl biologist Ray Marshalla said, ``I have seen large numbers of doves locally but do not have a sense for statewide numbers.''
Here's a breakdown and forecast at some key public sites.
Matthiessen SP: Very good: Assistant site super Leo Trainor said good sunflowers are all mowed. Site should repeat as one of the state's top dove sites. He's seeing doves. About 100 hunters should be in four fields. Standbys draw for leftover slots, after permitted hunters draw.
Iroquois County SWA: Very good: Site super Frank Snow said fields are about as good as they can be. He's seeing doves, expecting more by the opener. Drawing at 11 for about 52 stakes. In 2007 had one of the state's top openers (13.2 doves per hunter).
Jim Edgar-Panther Creek SFWA: Good: The sunflowers and burnt wheat fields were very good, but site super Mike Wickens said local doves seemed way down. The good news is he has seen a major push of doves in the last two days. ``Somebody up north is losing birds,'' he said. It's permits the first few days. Standby hunters may have it tough opening day, but after that standby hunters should get out.
Des Plaines SFWA: Good: Site super Jeff Wepprecht said fields are mowed and will be again before the opener. He's seeing decent doves. About 110 hunters will be in the fields for the opener. Site had an outstanding opener in 2007 (12.8 dph), and did well the second day.
Silver Springs SFWA: Good: Site super Wepprecht said sunflowers are good and all fields mowed. He's seeing a fair amount of doves. About 135 hunters will be in the fields for the opener.
Green River SWA: Decent: Like just about everywhere, the field conditions of sunflowers and wheat is solid. But like other northern sites, ranger Kent Stralow said, ``We're seeing some doves, but not like we usually do.'' Standbys draw at 11 a.m.
Kankakee River SP: Decent: Site super Kathy Pangle said sunflowers are good with mowing done. There will be 50 hunters in the field opening day.
Shabbona Lake SRA: Decent: Site super Kerry Novak said fields are decent, some weeds came with rains, but they are mowed and in good shape. He has not seen as many doves as he would expect with conditions as of Monday. Draw at 11 for first 60 hunters.
Marseilles SFWA: Decent: Site super Ted Love said good sunflowers are mowed. He is seeing doves, but not large numbers. There's about 60 slots. Signup at Gate 60 by 11.
Shelbyville SFWA: Fair: This site, once one of the great ones, is only half of what it was. Because of budge cuts, there is only 40 acres in sunflowers instead of the usual 80 acres. And there will only be about slots for 98 hunters, compared to the usual 25-300. Otherwise, site superintendent Stan Duzan said he is seeing a fair number of doves, but the fields were hampered by the summer long flood at Lake Shelbyville, which pushed the deer into the sunflowers more than usual. But the fields are ready to go for hunters.
Chain O'Lakes SP: Fair: Site super Kurt Zacharias said the fields look decent and are mowed. Doves are scarce.
Mazonia-Braidwood SFWA: Poor: Hunting only at Mazonia North. Sign-in at the shed by the site office.
Early Canada goose season is Sept. 1-15. The big change is to a daily bag of five in the central and north zones. The daily bag in the northeast remains five and in south zone remains two.
I love hunting with Jeff Norris for many reasons. But the wit and wisdom in this assessment I requested about opening day from the Kane County goose guide (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a prime example of one reason:
``In this particular part of the world, everything is running about two weeks behind schedule. Yellow jackets, peppers, and the first flight of goslings from the spring hatch are all behind. We have seen a few families flying out to graze, so some should be killable come Monday morn - but things are definitely "a bit off the pace" for this time of the season. I will be scouting them and doves every morning this week.''
Marshalla sent assessment of early September goose season:
``Giant Canada geese are in good shape with average reproduction expected. Some loss of nests likely occurred during the cold wet spring with flooding on islands, rat houses, etc.''
And added this perspective:
``Last year 12,788 hunters spent 41,549 days afield to take 16,207 Canada geese. The last time we took more was 2002 when they shot 21,534. The record since 1998 was 26,021 taken in 2001. 1998 was the first year we had a statewide September goose season.''
Marseilles opens for squirrels on Monday. On Tuesday, Silver Springs and Kankakee River both open.
Friday is the last day to apply for free upland game hunts.
On Tuesday, Sept. 2, permits will be issued for deer hunters at Heidecke Lake and Goose Lake Prairie. If they stick it on their dashboard, they can then begin seasonal scouting.
Season will be Sept. 6-21.
Season is Sept. 6-Nov. 14 for Sora and Virginia rails only.
Season is Sept. 6-Dec. 21.
The DU Migration Map should be posted here beginning the first week of September.