The opening of upland game seasons, the building rut and waterfowling lead this Illinois Hunting Report.
Most attention is on the rut and opening of upland game hunting, but waterfowl seasons are open in the north and central zones. The scene above was dawn over decoys of opening morning from our blind at Kankakee River State Park.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or post in the comments.
It will be a far different hunt for pheasant hunters and even deer hunters during the rut.
Crop harvest is done, a radical change from last year's near-record slow harvest. As of Sunday night, corn harvest in Illinois was 98 percent complete, compared to 18 percent last year; soybeans 99, compared to 35.
Seasons open Saturday. Daily bag for cock pheasant is two, for gray partridge is two, bobwhite quail, eight, and rabbit, four.
I will do more on the upland seasons separately later.
But here is a taste from Michael Wefer, ag and grassland wildlife program manager, who e-mailed,
Even though population projections are a bit down this year, a lot more crops have been harvested in comparison with this time last year. This may mean that even though there may be fewer birds out there, hunters may have a better chance at them.
It's shocking the difference in crop harvest from last year. I think he is absolutely right on that.
Like most people, I am anticipating a much different season than last year where crops where in the fields well into December in much of the prime hunting areas. Crops are out across virtually the entire state.
SIGHTING IN SHOTGUNS
Illinois State Police will offer some ranges again for sighting in shotguns. Click here for info.
In his latest update on bowhunting, forest wildlife program manager Paul Shelton noted that Friday-Sunday was nearly 50-50 for does and bucks reported. That will be shifting even more radically toward more bucks through the next couple weeks of the rut.
Click here for Shelton's update. By Tuesday morning, the reported bowhunting harvest was 25,860.
Deer are moving. From my travels and trampling around, I am still seeing more small bucks roaming than big boys. Reports from bowhunters indicate the same thing. But that will change quickly, maybe even by today, and the big boys will take over.
Nov. 1 was the big movement day last year and when Chris Kiernan arrowed his record Illinois non-typical in Kendall County. Click here for a bit on Kiernan's buck.
LATE-WINTER: Applications for permits for the late-winter hunt at site-specific areas are now available.
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.
BUCK OF THE WEEK PHOTOS
When some nominations are stockpiled, I will run them on the outdoors page in the Sun-Times on Wednesdays, and Tuesdays here on Stray Casts.
E-mail nominations to email@example.com
NE ILLINOIS DEER NOTES
Of the 18 deer taken at the Mazonia South Unit, five have been bucks so far, including a 12-point.
Heard rumors of another big buck 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.
NORTH ZONE WATERFOWL
Fresh geese are certainly needed. The big blow didn't bring as many fresh birds as hoped, maybe the cooler weather will.
Mike Richied, a guide with Ultimate Waterfowlers, sent this:
Ultimate Waterfowlers had another great weekend with 16 hunters harvesting 31 very smart geese and 5 ducks. Along with the wise locals, we did see several groups of migrators and got into a few of those groups. Hopefully this cooler weather will continue to push new birds down.
Public sites remain fair at best. William Powers SRA (open Wednesday-Sunday) had 23 hunters bag four geese and 18 ducks over the weekend. . . . Heidecke Lake (open Wednesday-Sunday) had another tough weekend with 39 hunters taking only 14 ducks.
Seasons: Duck season runs through Dec. 14; Canada geese, snow geese and white-fronted geese seasons run through Jan. 8.
The fall shotgun season ended Sunday. The preliminary count posted was
718, which compares to the 761 last year.
Through Tuesday morning, 332 turkeys were reported harvested by bowhunters.
Applications for spring permits are being accepted.
CENTRAL WATERFOWL SEASON
Waterfowl hunting opened in Illinois' central zone on Saturday.
Faithful reader John Saban reported a decent mixed bag Downstate at Banner Marsh SFWA. In northeast Illinois, it was slow to fair.
Braidwood (Wednesday-Sunday) had a fair opening weekend with 104 hunters taking 60 ducks and eight geese. Mazonia South had 61 hunters take 19 ducks and five geese; Mazonia North, 72 hunters, 24 ducks, four geese.
I hunted Kankakee River SP and heard only a handful of shots, none of them ours.
Seasons: Ducks through Dec. 28; First Canada geese runs through Nov. 14, the second, Nov. 24-Jan. 31; Snow geese through Jan. 31; White-fronted geese Nov. 21-Jan. 31.
WATERFOWLING AT EMIQUON & MERWIN PRESERVES
SOUTH WATERFOWL SEASONS
Youth Hunt is Nov. 13-14; 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 is Saturday through Nov. 14.
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 runs through Nov. 12. Daily limit is 25.
Season runs through Nov. 29.
Season runs through Dec. 19. Daily bag is eight.
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.