The first beer sign of the fall welcoming hunters always makes me feel like hunting season is really here.
And I found mine last week while I had a camera in the car.
The opening day of upland game used to be OPENING DAY for hunters in Illinois. Deer season now surpasses it.
Even so, there will be plenty of hunters in the field for opening day for cock pheasant, rabbit, bobwhite quail and gray partridge on Saturday.
Prospects are so-so, and slow crop harvest (by Sunday corn harvest was 46 percent complete compared to 94 last year) will not help the early days of the season.
Biologist John Cole spoke the truth when he said, ``Big problem, especially with pheasants, is access to property with cover to hunt.''
The good factor (or bad I guess) in 2008 is the reduction in roadside mowing because of the poor economy and high gas prices. That may mean better brood counts than actually noted, Cole guessed.
The central zone opener for waterfowl was mixed.
During the hunting seasons, the extended online Illinois hunting report is posted here on Tuesdays. Otherwise, the Illinois Hunting Report comes at the end of the Midwest Fishing Report in the Sun-Times on Wednesdays.
If I get an update on sighting in shotguns for deer season at state police ranges, I will update.
If you have suggestions, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or post in the comments.
Full report follows.
SIGHTING IN DEER SHOTGUNS
The Bolingbrook Reporter reports District 5 State Police will open their range in Lockport on Saturday, Nov. 15 for hunters to sight in shotguns. Call (815) 726-6377 to make reservations.
Info on other sites for sighting in will be added as I get them.
It looks like bucks are starting to move.
Forest wildlife program manager Paul Shelton sent this on the first 26 days of bowhunting deer:
``Harvest so far this year is 19135, compared to 16752 (2007), 22350 (2006), and 22398 (2005).
Daily harvest sex ratios have recently dropped down to about 60% females:40% males; but the cumulative ratio to date is 66.6% female:33.4% male. As we get into the rut, sex ratios in the harvest will probably reverse until we see daily ratios in the range of 30% female:70% male.
Top five counties are Pike (972), Fulton (485), Peoria (482), Jefferson (437), and Marion (385). ''
Archery season runs through Jan. 15, except during firearm deer seasons in applicable counties.
Random daily drawings for firearm/muzzleloader deer permits run through Nov.7.
First firearm season is Nov. 21-23; second is Dec. 4-7.
Hunters who wish to donate their deer to Illinois Sportsman Against Hunger should go to http://dnr.state.il.us/legislation/isah/ for deer processors in the program.
Firearm season ends Sunday, Nov. 2. Shelton reported winds and weather slowed opening weekend:
``Total after 2 days was 407, compared to 497 last year. Top five counties were JoDaviess (44), Jefferson (23), Marion (18), Johnson (16), and Knox (16).''
First archery season ends Nov. 20; second season is Nov. 24-Dec. 3, third is Dec. 8-Jan. 15.
Remember the changes. Canvasbacks are closed for the year. The daily bag on wood ducks increased to three. Scaup bags are split, daily bag of one, except for 20 days, in each zone, see zone reports for two-scaup dates.
The daily limit of six ducks may include no more than four mallards (two hens), three wood ducks, two redheads, one black duck, and one pintail. The daily bag on Canada geese is two.
The DU Migration Map is posted here .
NORTH ZONE WATERFOWL
Note that the scaup bag changes in the next week. It is one daily, except two during Tuesday, Nov. 4-23. Also note that white-fronted geese season opens Friday, Oct. 31 and runs through Jan. 10.
Staff at Heidecke, open Wednesday-Sunday, reported 31 hunters took two geese and 29 ducks (majority mallards, a few shovelers, two black ducks) on Saturday, then 15 took four geese and 13 ducks Sunday.
Staff at William Powers, open seven days, reported a decent day in the wind Sunday with 10 hunters taking 8 mallards, two others and two geese.
Duck season ends Dec. 16. Canada goose season ends Jan. 10. Snow/blue/Ross' geese and brant season ends Jan. 10.
CENTRAL ZONE WATERFOWL
Braidwood, daily draws Wednesday through Sunday, was closed Sunday because of the wind. On Saturday, 62 hunters bagged 28 ducks and five geese. Opening weekend at Mazonia North, 22 ducks and seven geese were bagged; at Mazonia South, 36 ducks and five geese were bagged.
Remember white-fronted geese season doesn't open until Nov. 21, then runs to Jan. 31. First Canada goose season ends Nov. 9; second season is Nov. 24-Jan. 31. Scaup bag is one daily, except two during Nov. 11-30. Duck season ends Dec. 23. Snow/blue/Ross' geese and brant season ends Jan. 31.
SOUTH ZONE WATERFOWL
Youth hunt is Nov. 15-16. Duck season is Nov. 27-Jan. 25. Canada goose season is Nov. 27-Jan. 31. Snow/blue/Ross' geese and brant season ends Nov. 27-Jan. 31. White-fronted geese season is Nov. 27 - Jan. 31. Scaup bag is one daily, except two during Nov. 27-Dec. 16.
Season opens today and runs through Feb. 28.
Season for cock pheasant is Saturday Nov. 1-Jan. 8 in the north zone; Saturday, Nov. 1-Jan. 15 in the south.
IDNR pheasant prospects are here.
Bobwhite season is Saturday Nov. 1-Jan. 8 in the north zone; Saturday, Nov. 1-Jan. 15 in the south.
IDNR quail prospects are here.
Season is Saturday, Nov. 1-jan. 8 in the north zone; SAturday, Nov. 1-Jan. 22 in the south.
IDNR rabbit prospects are here.
Second season is Saturday, Nov. 1-Sunday, Nov. 16.
Season for gray partridge is Saturday Nov. 1-Jan. 8 in the north zone; Saturday, Nov. 1-Jan. 15 in the south.
Season, for Sora and Virginia rails only, runs through Nov. 14.
Season ends Dec. 21.
Season ends Feb. 15, except it is closed during firearm deer seasons in applicable counties.
Season ends March 31, except it is closed during firearm deer seasons in applicable counties.
Season ends Dec. 1.
North zone hunting season is Nov. 5-Feb. 10. South zone season is Nov. 10-Feb. 15.
Hunting season for red and gray foxes is Nov. 10-Jan. 31, except during the firearm deer seasons in applicable counties.
Raccoon, opossum, skunk, weasel, mink, muskrat, fox (red and gray), coyote and badger seasons are Nov. 5-Jan. 20 in the north zone; Nov. 10-Jan. 25 in the south.
Season is Nov. 5-March 31 in the north zone, Nov. 20-March 31 in the south.
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 the Illinois Public Hunting Areas Report, click here.
For Illinois crop reports (generally posted Monday afternoons), click here.