For the last week, I have been trying to get a good shot of doves lined up on wires. This was the best I could do at a morning grit spot near a feed mill.
With the opening of dove hunting next Tuesday, a breakdown of prospects at public sites near Chicago lead the Illinois Hunting Report.
During the hunting seasons, the extended online version of the IHR, which comes at the end of the Midwest Fishing Report in the Sun-Times on Wednesdays, is usually posted here on Tuesdays.
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Season opens Tuesday. Daily bag is 15.
A wet spring and cool summer impacted the planting of sunflowers at nearly all sites. Keeping that in mind, here is a preseason ranking of public sites around northeast Illinois for dove hunting.
MATTHIESSEN SP: Usually, a top site (1,866 birds bagged in '08). Site super Tom Levy said sunflowers went in late, the third week of May, so they put off mowing as long as possible. Permit site, but standby is usually available by Day 2.
KANKAKEE RIVER STATE PARK: Usually a top site (1,765 in '08). Site super Kathy Pangle said the sunflowers look good, but one field went in late, so stakes are reduced slightly. Cutting is being done. Permit site.
DES PLAINES SFWA: Usually, a top site (1,645 in '08). Site super Jeff Wepprecht said flowers went in late, so they reduced stakes slightly. Permit site.
SILVER SPRINGS SFWA: Down last year (755). Wepprecht said flowers went in late but mowing is being done. Few birds being seen. Permit site.
IROQUOIS COUNTY SWA: Terrible last year (53). But sandy soil allowed the fields to be planted earlier than most sites, it could rebound this year. Site tech Andy Anderson said they're seeing birds.
SHABBONA SRA: Sunflowers are mowed, but not a lot of doves yet.
MARSEILLES SWA: Sunflowers are OK. For the first five days, the drawing is at Gate 60.
CHAIN O'LAKES SP: Fair at best. There's sunflower and wheat.
MAZONIA SFWA: Poor at best. Sign in and out at the shack in office parking lot.
HEIDECKE NOTE: Bowhunters may pick up parking permits for Heidecke Lake at the site office beginning Tuesday, then may begin scouting during September.
DES PLAINES SFWA NOTE: Hunters interested in archery deer hunting at Des Plaines State Fish and Wildlife Area can call and arrange to pick up the 2009 archery deer hunting parking permits for the site thru Nov. 30 at the site office located at 24621 North River Road, Wilmington, IL 60481. Hunters who want a parking permit for Des Plaines SFWA must call the site office at 815/423-5326 in advance to make an appointment to obtain the permit. Archery deer hunters wanting a parking permit are required to have a 2009 hunting license and habitat stamp.
Firearm deer season is Nov. 21-23 and Dec. 4-7. Muzzleloader-only season is Dec. 11-13.
Monday is the deadline to apply online for free upland game permits.
EARLY CANADA GOOSE SEASON
As usual, it is Tuesday through Sept. 15. The daily bag limit is five geese in the Northeast, North and Central zones and two geese per day in the South Zone (possession limits are twice the daily bag limit).
Again, a cooler weekend will likely bring out more squirrel hunters.
Iroquois County SWA is one nearby site already open for squirrel hunting. Marseilles SWA opens Tuesday. Kankakee River SP, Momence Wetlands, Silver Spring SFWA open the Tuesday after Labor Day.
Season ends Feb. 15, except it is closed during firearm deer seasons in applicable counties (Nov. 21-23 and Dec. 4-7). Squirrel hunting hours are one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset. The daily limit is five squirrels with a possession limit of 10.
Season is Sept. 5-20. Daily bag remains four.
NORTH ZONE WATERFOWL
The 60-day duck season opens Oct. 17. The Canada goose season is Oct. 17-Jan. 9.
CENTRAL ZONE WATERFOWL
The 60-day duck season opens Oct. 31. The Canada goose season is an odd split: Oct. 31-Nov. 15 and Nov. 24-Jan. 31.
SOUTH ZONE WATERFOWL
The 60-day duck season opens Nov. 14. The split 66-day Canada goose season is Nov. 14-15 and Nov. 29-Jan. 31.
ILLINOIS HUNTING ONLINE
For IDNR hunting info, click here.
For the Illinois 2009-10 Digest of Hunting & Trapping Regulations, click here.
For the 2008-09 Illinois Public Hunting Areas Report, click here.