I bumped into John Buhnerkempe in Springfield on Sunday. The head of wildlife resources for Illinois is beginning to wonder if the extremely slow and late crop harvest may even be so delayed as to impact the firearm season for deer in late November.
There are a whole lot of fields that aren't even as half harvested as this one. So it makes sense that crop talk leads this week's 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.
If you have suggestions, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or post in the comments.
I would extend Buhnerkempe's concern to even include a fear that corn harvest is so far behind it will impact the central zone waterfowl opener on Saturday and probably even the opening of small game on Nov. 7.
Through Sunday, corn is only 14 percent harvested (five-year average is 77) while beans are slightly better at 33. In the northeast, corn harvest is only 8 percent complete.
The record pace of bowhunting slowed slightly. Here are the keys stats from biologist Paul Shelton:
Preliminary archery deer harvest totals through Sunday, October 25 stand at 21754, compared to previous year totals of 17875 (2008), 16065 (2007), 21883 (2006), and 21610 (2005). Temperatures have been great, but a continuing pattern of rain every few days occasionally dampens hunter participation (last Thursday was a good example) and frustrates crop harvest by farmers. Top 5 counties are Pike (1073), Fulton (571), Jefferson (565), Peoria (500), and LaSalle (470). An Excel spreadsheet is attached with individual county results.
As expected, harvest sex ratios have begun to shift somewhat as we move toward the rut. Sex ratios during the past week were 60.2% does to 39.8% bucks, compared to the previous three week average of 69.3% does:30.7%. Overall sex ratios to date are 67.5% does:32.5% bucks.
With all the deer being harvested, this is a good time for a reminder to participate in the Illinois Sportsmen Against Hunger program. To find a list of processors and more information go to http://dnr.state.il.us/legislation/isah/.
Firearm deer season is Nov. 21-23 and Dec. 4-7. Muzzleloader-only season is Dec. 11-13.
BUCK OF THE WEEK
Remember the daily bag is now six ducks not to include more than four mallards (two of which can be hens), three wood ducks, two redheads, two scaup (entire 60 days this year), one canvasback (full 60-day season), one black duck and one pintail (full 60-day season).
The daily bag on Canada geese is two.
The DU Migration Map is posted at
NORTH ZONE WATERFOWL
Heidecke had a fair weekend: Saturday (48 hunters, 21 ducks), Sunday (29, 20). Wolf Lake was slow: Saturday: (17 hunters, 6 mallards, 5 others), Sunday: (18 hunters, one goose, one mallard, four others).
White-fronted goose season opens Friday. The 60-day duck season runs through Dec. 15. The Canada goose season runs through Jan. 9.
CENTRAL ZONE WATERFOWL
Nobody is quite sure what to expect with so few fields harvested for the opening of the 60-day duck season on Saturday. The Canada goose season is an odd split: Saturday through Nov. 15, then Nov. 24-Jan. 31. White-fronted geese do not open until Nov. 21.
Here are some youth hunt numbers: Braidwood, six ducks (mallards and lesser scaup); Mazonia North, one mallard; and Mazonia South, one lesser scaup, one mallard.
SOUTH ZONE WATERFOWL
The youth hunt is this weekend. The 60-day duck season opens Nov. 14. The split 66-day Canada goose season is Nov. 14-15 and Nov. 29-Jan. 31.
Season opens Wednesday and runs through Feb. 28.
First season runs through Saturday.
Fall shotgun season runs through Sunday. I don't expect to see harvest numbers from the DNR until after the season.
Bowhunting is open through Jan. 17, except it is closed during the firearm deer seasons in those counties open to firearm deer hunting.
Open to Sora and Virginia only. Season runs through Nov. 13
Runs through Nov. 30.
Season runs through Dec. 20
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.
Hunting season ends March 31, except it is closed during firearm deer seasons in applicable counties.
ILLINOIS HUNTING ONLINE
For IDNR hunting info, click here.
For the Illinois 2009-10 Digest of Hunting & Trapping Regulations, click here.
For the 2009-10 Digest of Waterfowl Hunting Regulations, click here.
For the 2008-09 Illinois Public Hunting Areas Report, click here.
For Illinois crop reports (generally posted Monday afternoons, holiday weekends are the exceptions), click here.