This second split of the Illinois Hunting Report looks at the opening of the 2010-11 season for bowhunting deer.
Illinois bowhunters are coming off a 2009-10 season that included the taking of the state record non-typical buck by Chris Kiernan (above).
The Morris man arrowed the 37-point buck in Kendall County on Nov. 1. It was measured at 268 1/8 inches (various antler additions and subtractions) by Crete scorer Jeff Pals.
This is a split IHR.
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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Bowhunting for deer opens Friday.
And there is much to give hope.
Everything--weather, mast and crop harvest--seem aligned for a dream start.
Granted, most bowhunters focus on the weeks around the rut in late October and November.
The best news may be the incredible pace of crop harvest--far different than last year.
As of Sunday night, corn harvest was 57 percent complete. Compare that to only 2 percent last year and the five-year average of 21 percent. Even soybeans are 22 percent harvested, compared to 1 percent last year.
This is a ``mast year,'' particularly for bur and red oaks.
``This is one of the heaviest years I've seen for acorns, not just in the Chicago region, but in other states as well,'' said Kris Bachtell, vice president of collections and facilities for Morton Arboretum in Lisle.
Even the weather looks goo/d for opening weekend. There might be frost in northern areas Saturday night.
SHELTON Q & A
Here's a short Q and A with Paul Shelton, forest wildlife program manager.
Are you expecting a record harvest for bowhunting deer?
I really don't expect our bowhunting totals to change all that much. They've been pretty consistent for a number of years now (in the range of 64-66K), and I wouldn't expect a significant change.
Will the rapid crop harvest help?
It will increase early season sightability, so it should jumpstart the early part of the season so long as we have cooperative weather. That would be important primarily because doe harvest is high during the first several weeks of the season, so harvest sex ratios may benefit from it.
Is it a ``mast year'' statewide or only up here [in northeast Illinois]?
Mast crop from most sources looks good throughout the state.
Any other outbreaks of EHD [Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease], other than the one around Will/Cook/Indiana?
We have scattered reports from around the state, but it appears to be an average year in this regard.
How many bowhunters do you estimate?
We had 162,758 unique bowhunters during 2009, up from 158,671 during 2008.
And a blindside: Do you think Illinois has the greatest deer hunting?
Of course it does. Don't be silly!
Random daily drawings for firearm/muzzleloader deer permits are underway.
Illinois resident deer hunters are able to purchase 2010 Illinois Archery Deer Hunting Permits (combination archery and antlerless-only archery permits) online at www.dnr.state.il.us/license.html or over-the-counter from DNR Direct permit sale locations throughout Illinois.
Youth Firearm Deer Hunt: The Illinois Youth Either-Sex Firearm Deer Hunt is Oct. 9-10. Permits for this season are available over-the-counter from DNR Direct license and permit vendors. Go to www.dnr.state.il.us/license.html. For a list of IDNR and public land sites open for hunting during the youth firearm deer hunt in 2010, go to www.dnr.state.il.us/admin/pdf/YouthDeer2010SitesOpen.pdf.
NORTHEAST ILLINOIS NOTES
In northeast Illinois, there are some changes.
At Des Plaines SFWA near Wilmington, bowhunters no longer need a site permit. However, they need to sign in and out, and report harvest at the nearest check station: either the main office or the west parking lot of the Area B.
The 835 huntable acres of Morris Wetlands SFWA will be open for bowhunting for either sex of deer. Obtain a parking permit at Goose Lake Prairie SNA, then sign in and out at the inside gate off Pine Bluff Road.
Biologist Dan Ludwig said the first archery deer hunt for James ``Pate'' Philip State Park will have 48 hunters spread over eight 14-day periods in six hunting areas.
BUCK OF THE WEEK PHOTOS
With bowhunting for deer opening Friday, I will begin Buck of the Week when I get a few photos stockpiled. When that happens, I will run them on the outdoors page in the Sun-Times on Wednesdays, and Tuesdays here on Stray Casts.
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ILLINOIS HUNTING ONLINE
For IDNR hunting info, click here.
For the Illinois 2010-11 Digest of Hunting & Trapping Regulations, click here.
For the 2009-10 Illinois Public Hunting Areas Report, click here.
For Illinois crop reports (generally posted Monday afternoons, holiday weekends are the exceptions), click here.