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Illinois Hunting Report: Deer, snowy pheasants & icing

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Deer, snowy pheasant hunting and open-water waterfowling lead this Illinois Hunting Report.


Coming home from a duck hunt earlier this fall, I found this pheasant hiding in a roadside ditch earlier. More are focusing on pheasants with the snow cover and the firearm deer seasons ended.

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 or post in the comments.

We will still lead with deer hunting, the big one in Illinois.


Muzzleloader-only season is Friday through Sunday. Northern and central areas will have some snow cover, and there's a possibility of a major snow by Sunday.

I don't expect the deer numbers until tomorrow or Thursday for the firearm seasons. When they come, I will post separately. I am very curious how those numbers look. The heavy snow made for some interesting hunting. Just from the area where I hunt, there was far more shooting Sunday morning than there was any day during the first season.

I am certain, even with the weekend snow, the numbers will easily surpass those for the 2009 firearm seasons.

The biggest buck taken in Illinois so far is a non-typical arrowed in Clark County, green-scoring in the 240s, according to Tim Walmsley, a blogger at Heartland Outdoors. Click here for a photo and a couple graphs.

The overall bow kill is well off last year's. Through 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, bowhunters were reporting a kill of 56,731, down significantly from last year at this time (64,864). I suspect the combination of recent weather and a better firearm season may account for some of that drop.


County permits for the 2010-11 late-winter antlerless-only firearm deer season and the special CWD deer season will be available over the counter beginning Dec. 14 from DNR Direct permit sale locations throughout Illinois. Season dates are Dec. 30, 2010-Jan. 2, 2011 and Jan. 14-16, 2011. Click here to find a permit sale vendor:


There will be standby possibilities during muzzleloader season at Heidecke Lake again for Heidecke, Goose Lake Prairie and Morris Wetlands SFWA. For standby, be there by 5 a.m.


Good nominations keep coming. It's a wonderful thing. With what I have already, BOTW will have a long run this year. BOTW runs on the outdoors page in the Sun-Times on Wednesdays. I usually post it here on Stray Casts on Tuesday.

E-mail nominations to


This is a good time for a reminder to participate in the Illinois Sportsmen Against Hunger program. Click here for info, including participating processors.


Fresh birds are here, just in time for many waters to lock up.

Both Heidecke and William Powers SRA are frozen and I don't see any reason to think they will reopen before duck season ends.

Duck season ends Tuesday.

Goose hunting is taking off.

On Sunday, Jeff Norris at Fox Valley Guide Service in Kane County sent this:

Life is good - unless yer a goose! We saw the beginning of a massive inbound migration today. We already had good numbers. I just don't know where we will put these new birds. I s'pose the freezer will work...

Mike Richied, a guide with Ultimate Waterfowlers, sent this note on some of the changes:

Looks like the birds are finally here. Everyone at the Liv for a Cure event enjoyed great success with plenty of new birds that were pushed down by all the snow. All day yesterday we saw large groups of migrators and were able to coax a few down into our spread which always makes for an exciting hunt.

Canada geese, snow geese and white-fronted geese seasons run through Jan. 8.


Fresh birds arrived, and where there is open water, there is good hunting.

My buddy managed to get out last week to our blind at Kankakee River State Park and he had ducks and geese both flying within range. If you have open water, you should have hunting.

Braidwood (open Wednesday-Sunday) had a very strong Sunday with 156 ducks bagged. But nearly every day last week was good. I would expect the same this week.

The Mazonia lakes are locked up or will be.

Duck season runs through Dec. 28. Hunting for Canada geese, snow geese and white-fronted geese runs through Jan. 31.

YOUTH HUNT NOTE: Friday is the deadline to apply for the Central Illinois Youth Goose Hunt at private waterfowl hunting clubs in Peoria, Fulton and Knox Counties on Dec. 26-27. Call (217)785-8060.


Click here for the word on waterfowling at Emiquon and Merwin preserves.


Duck season runs through Jan. 23. The second Canada goose season and snow geese and white-fronted geese seasons run through Jan. 31. Considering how much of northern and central parts of the state are locking up, there should be incoming birds.


The first big snow over the weekend had bird hunters itching. Some like John Saban were more than itchy, they got out and did it. Saban sent this:

My brother -in-law & I traditionally wait for the 1st snow to hunt a farm near Odell, we went out in the mess Saturday a.m.
we missed an early rooster 3minutes after we started , your typical
"there is no way a bird will pop up this quick" miss. When we got into the really thick stuff ,my dog really got birdie, i popped a rooster that flushed early, we saw 3 hens & heard a few more get up in front of us out of site. Only 1 bird for the day but a very satisfying hunt. We stopped at Rentz's for a Burger and a few beers to make the day complete.

I may have to add Rentz's Tap & Dining to my list of stops. I hunt near Odell usually once or twice a year.

There appears to be the possibility of another round of snow this weekend.

Daily bag for cock pheasant is two, for gray partridge is two, bobwhite quail, eight, and rabbit, four.


Jan. 11 is the deadline for the second lottery for spring turkey permits for first-time applicants or rejected applicants. Non-residents may begin applying today. Click here to apply.

Through 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, bowhunters had a kill of 586, down significantly from the 820 at this point last year. Not sure why that is.


Season runs through Dec. 19.


Season runs through Feb. 15.


Hunting runs through Feb. 28.


Click here for the latest update on hunting season dates at Marseilles SFWA.


To find daily harvest reports on deer and turkey, click here.


Click here for the latest posting of Illinois' aerial waterfowl surveys.


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.


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.

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This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on December 7, 2010 10:52 AM.

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