Saturday was opening day for upland game, far different than last year's with virtually all crops harvested; but far more attention is on the peaking of the rut in this Illinois Hunting Report.
Even a decade or so ago, upland hunters on opening day would have upstaged bowhunting for deer. But those days are past. And part of the reason is access for upland hunters.
I drove around three prime counties--Will, Kankakee and Iroquois--for upland hunting on Saturday and the only pheasant hunters I saw were the ones above, and they were hunting the controlled pheasant hunt at Kankakee River State Park.
Something about the downturn in interest in upland hunting bothers me, grates on me.
I understand the surge in interest in deer hunting, especially by bowhunters. (I prefer deer hunting myself.)
But there is something to be said for a broad-based interest in hunting. Some how it seems that opening day of pheasant season should be spent in the field.
As I typed that, I realized that I didn't get out Saturday for upland game. Instead, I put in a couple hours for ducks, then went home. My neighbor and I had considered kicking out a couple fencerows for rabbits and pheasants in the evening, but family stuff caused both of us to scuttle those ideas.
Maybe it goes back to broader societal changes, the emphasis on specialization in work and play.
As a kid, I played baseball from the time the mud dried enough until the weather turned too cold, then went to football or soccer, until the ground froze, then switched to basketball in somebody's driveway, a schoolyard or a hoop in a barn.
Then repeated the cycle the next spring.
Now, kids play soccer or basketball all year or focus conditioning and practice on their sport entirely, be it football, gymnastics, karate, whatever.
Some mornings, my mind just mulls matters.
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, e-mail me at email@example.com or post in the comments.
We are in the heart of the rut, maybe even at the peak. BOTW photos started coming last week, and bigger bucks are being spotted.
Here is the latest update from forest wildlife program manager Paul Shelton:
Through the end of the day on Sunday, 11/7/2010, archery deer harvest stands at 36,252, compared to 35,327 (2009), 31,280 (2008), and 35,031 (2007) for the same time period. Archery harvest sex ratios for the season are currently 57% female: 43% male, but hunters during the past few days were taking about 40% female:60% male. Daily harvest remained strong throughout the entire past week. Top five counties are Pike (1824), Fulton (1102), Adams (783), Jefferson (782), and Peoria (778).
LATE-WINTER: Applications for permits for the late-winter hunt at site-specific areas are now available.
BUCK OF THE WEEK PHOTOS
Enough nominations have come in, that I start running BOTW on the outdoors page in the Sun-Times tomorrow. I will post that one here later today or tonight, and generally have them up Tuesdays here on Stray Casts.
E-mail nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org
SIGHTING IN SHOTGUNS
On Saturday, the Illinois State Police will offer some ranges again for sighting in shotguns. Click here for info.
DEER AND HUNGER
This is a good time for a reminder to participate in the Illinois Sportsmen Against Hunger program. Click here for info, including participating processors.
NE ILLINOIS DEER NOTES
Of the 21 deer harvested from Mazonia South Unit, eight have been bucks so far, including a 12-point.
Good reports continue from the 835 huntable acres of Morris Wetlands SFWA, which is 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.
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.
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.
Seasons opened Saturday with birds and rabbits concentrated in areas like ditches and fencerows with the crops taken out. Many fields have already been plowed.
Daily bag for cock pheasant is two, for gray partridge is two, bobwhite quail, eight, and rabbit, four.
NORTH ZONE WATERFOWL
We need fresh birds, though some ducks arrived last week. The Canada geese around are educated home birds by and large.
As Mike Richied, a guide with Ultimate Waterfowlers, noted:
Ultimate Waterfowlers had a fairly successful weekend. The geese are getting tougher everyday, but it looks like the ducks have finally started to show up. Unfortunately, looks like more of the same sunny weather all week, so my advice would be to find some fields where geese are routinely feeding, hide better, call better and pray for some harsh weather!
They have also announced the dates and plans for the 2010 Calling for a Cure to benefit cystic fibrosis. This great event will take place the weekend of December 3rd in Libertyville, IL. Please visit www.livforacure.org for more info.
Public sites remain slow. William Powers SRA (open Wednesday-Sunday) nine hunters bag six ducks and one goose on Saturday, then 13 hunters blanked on Sunday. The problem is not the ducks. Site super Saki Villalobos said, ``We got the ducks. They are just not moving.'' . . . Heidecke Lake (open Wednesday-Sunday) had another tough weekend with 41 hunters taking only 20 ducks and no geese.
Seasons: Duck season runs through Dec. 14; Canada geese, snow geese and white-fronted geese seasons run through Jan. 8.
CENTRAL WATERFOWL SEASON
Same as the north zone, fresh birds are needed, though some ducks arrived last week. By now, most of the Canada geese are home-schooled and smart.
I hunted Kankakee River SP three times last week and heard very few shots.
Remember the first Canada goose season ends Sunday. Duck season runs through Dec. 28. The second Canada goose season is Nov. 24-Jan. 31; Snow geese through Jan. 31; White-fronted geese Nov. 21-Jan. 31.
WATERFOWLING AT EMIQUON & MERWIN PRESERVES
SOUTH WATERFOWL SEASONS
The youth hunt is this weekend.
The other seasons: Ducks Nov. 25-Jan. 23; Canada geese: Nov. 25-28 and Dec. 1-Jan. 31; Snow geese Nov. 25-Jan. 31; White-fronted geese Nov. 25-Jan. 31.
The second season ends Sunday.
Through Tuesday morning, 446 turkeys were reported harvested by bowhunters.
Applications for spring permits are being accepted.
The general season runs through Feb. 15, except it is closed during firearm deer seasons in applicable counties. 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.
Ed Smith provided a pictorial on how to clean a squirrel for PrairieStateOutdoors.com.
Sora and Virginia only are legal. Season ends Friday.
Season runs through Nov. 29.
Season runs through Dec. 19.
Hunting runs through Feb. 28.
MARSEILLES SFWA HUNTING DATES
ILLINOIS HARVEST REPORT
To find daily harvest reports on deer and turkey, click here.
WATERFOWL AERIAL SURVEYS
Click here for the latest posting of Illinois' aerial waterfowl surveys.
COYOTES AT SILVER SPRINGS
Here's another new opportunity later this hunting season to keep in mind. After the close of bowhunting in January, coyote hunting will open at Silver Springs SFWA.
ILLINOIS HUNTING ONLINE
For IDNR hunting info, click here.
For the Illinois 2010-11 Digest of Hunting & Trapping Regulations, click here.
For the 2010-2011 edition of the Digest of Waterfowl Hunting Regulation, 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.