The big question is the progression of rut for the opening of Illinois first firearm deer season on Friday, Nov. 21. The first season runs through Sunday, Nov. 23.
Downstate bow guru and scorer Tim Walmsley e-mailed,
``The adults bucks are DOED up hard- Hovering over them right now- and will search every 3 days or so for a new one- Friday gun seasons basically ENDS the 08 rut when the war starts!''
Forest wildlife program manager Paul Shelton said,
``Although the peak of the rut will have passed, there will still be a significant amount of rutting activity.''
Otherwise, preparations for firearm deer season is underway for the opener when more than 200,000 hunters will take to the fields and woods with hopes of putting a dent in Illinois' 800,000-strong herd.
This pile of lumber and nails evolved into the most impressive tree stand I will have hunted from after brothers Tony and Andy Smith helped me Sunday.
During the hunting seasons, the extended online version of the Illinois hunting report, which comes at the end of the Midwest Fishing Report in the Sun-Times on Wednesdays, is usually posted here on Tuesdays.
With the aerial surveys for waterfowl being flown (they are weather dependent), I will update if needed.
If you have suggestions, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or post in the comments.
Full report follows.
Weather looks relatively good--30s and 40s north, 40s and 50s south--for the first season, which runs Friday, Nov. 21-Nov. 23. Second firearm season is Dec. 4-7.
That has Shelton's hopes up for a good harvest:
``We'd like to reach 120,000 for the whole firearm season; it would be nice if we could get 80,000 of them the first weekend. We should top 200,000 for total harvest.''
Archery season runs through Jan. 15, except during firearm deer seasons in applicable counties. Which means it will be closed for the first firearm season, Friday, Nov. 21-Sunday, Nov. 23, in most of the state.
On the down side, there are some indications from the bow season that the rut may be well on the down swing (not to be confused with the down low) by Friday. Shelton sent this update:
``Deer harvest for the 2008 archery deer season stood at 48,332 after Sunday night (November 16), down slightly from totals during the past three years: 50,742 (2007); 51,586 (2006); and 53,125 (2005). Four more days of hunting during the rut remain prior to the beginning of firearm season.
Daily harvest during the past weekend peaked at 2,477 deer on Sunday, lower than was seen during the weekend of 11/8 - 11/9 (see attached graph of daily harvest).
During the past 5 days, bucks have comprised from 63% to 67% of the harvest, compared with season-to-date sex ratios of about 50:50 (bucks:does). A graph showing changes in daily sex ratios throughout the season is attached.
Top five counties are Pike (2,873), Fulton (1,392), Adams (1,102), Peoria (1,032), and Jefferson (1,017).''
A note for those who don't have a permit in the Chicago area. Heidecke Lake/Goose Lake Prairie offers $5 standbys for any openings not filled by the 32 permitted hunters. I've done this a couple times and it is an option.
To donate deer through Illinois Sportsmen Against Hunter, go to dnr.state.il.us/legislation/isah/. It's also a good way to find meat processors, now that that is becoming tougher in the Chicago area.
BUCK OF THE WEEK
If you have an entry for Buck of the Week, e-mail the photo and story to email@example.com. We generally run BOTW into December or so.
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 at
NORTH ZONE WATERFOWL
There's some indication that Sunday brought fresh birds. After a so-so Saturday, hunters had a good Sunday at Heidecke where 28 hunters bagged 42 ducks (many mallards, but also goldeneyes, bluebills, mergansers, buffleheads and widgeon). William Powers remained very slow.
Daily scaup bag is two until Sunday, Nov. 23; beginning Monday, Nov. 24, it reverts bag to one daily.
Duck season ends Dec. 16.
Canada, white-fronted, snow/blue/Ross' geese and brant seasons end Jan. 10.
CENTRAL ZONE WATERFOWL
Braidwood/Mazonia also indicated fresh birds. On Saturday, 47 hunters bagged 46 ducks, then 46 took 42 ducks on Sunday. Best day at Mazonia North was 22 hunters taking 20 on Saturday. Saturday was best at South with 25 hunters taking 22.
Remember white-fronted geese doesn't open until Friday, Nov. 21, then runs to Jan. 31. The second Canada goose season opens Monday, Nov. 24, and runs until Jan. 31.
Daily scaup bag is two until Nov. 30; beginning Dec. 1, it reverts to one daily.
Duck season ends Dec. 23.
Snow/blue/Ross' geese and brant season ends Jan. 31.
First archery season ends Thursday, Nov. 20; second season is Monday, Nov. 24-Dec. 3, third is Dec. 8-Jan. 15.
Through Thursday, Nov. 13, bowhunters had reported harvesting 515 turkeys, down from 564 at this point last year, but ahead of 2005 and 2006, according to Shelton. Top counties were: Jefferson (20), Macoupin (18), Fulton and Peoria (16 each), and Pike, Randolph, and Winnebago (15 each).
The application deadline for first lottery for spring wild turkey hunting is Monday, Dec. 1.
Season for cock pheasant ends Jan. 8 in the north zone; Jan. 15 in the south. With the majority of fields now harvested, chances for those not focused on deer should improve greatly.
Season for gray partridge ends Jan. 8 in the north zone; Jan. 15 in the south.
Bobwhite season ends Jan. 8 in the north zone; Jan. 15 in the south.
Season ends Jan. 8 in the north zone, Jan. 22 in the south.
Season ends Dec. 1.
Season ends Dec. 21.
Season ends Feb. 15, except it is closed during firearm deer seasons in applicable counties.
Season ends Feb. 28.
Season ends March 31, except it is closed during firearm deer seasons in applicable counties.
North zone hunting season ends Feb. 10, south zone season on Feb. 15.
Hunting season for red and gray foxes ends Jan. 31, except it is closed during the firearm deer seasons in applicable counties.
Raccoon, opossum, skunk, weasel, mink, muskrat, fox (red and gray), coyote and badger seasons end Jan. 20 in the north zone; Jan. 25 in the south.
Season ends March 31.
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.