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Illinois Hunting Report: Bucks moving, ducks not

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Bucks are beginning to move and ducks are not, those two strains lead this Illinois Hunting Report.


Crop harvest is moving along ahead of the five-year averages with corn 79 percent harvested statewide by Sunday, and soybeans at 84.

From what I have seen, the fields are being worked hard, which is a good sign both for the opening of upland game seasons in less than two weeks and the first firearm deer season in just over three weeks.

Yeah, I am getting anxious for both of those. In that, I truly envy the bowhunters who are after deer. The next couple weeks are their big ones for big ones around Illinois outdoors.

During the hunting seasons, the extended online version of the IHR, which appears most weeks during the hunting season in the outdoors page of the Sun-Times on Wednesdays, is usually posted here on Tuesdays.

If you have suggestions, e-mail me at or post in the comments.


Should start with deer. Bucks are beginning to move, at least the younger ones. The big ones will soon enough.

The increasing percentage of bucks in the reported harvest by bowhunters is but one indication. Forest wildlife program manager Paul Shelton sent this:

Illinois archery deer hunters have taken a preliminary 17,744 deer through October 23, compared to 17,008 during that same period last year. Harvest rates picked up somewhat beginning Friday last week as wind speeds subsided. Hunters are beginning to take more bucks as the season progresses, with harvest sex ratios near 60% female/40% male over the weekend. Cumulative harvest sex ratios to date have been 69% female/31% male. Top five counties are Pike (704), Fulton (491), Jefferson (413), Vermilion (398), and Peoria (380).

Over the counter sales of remaining firearm permits for deer is underway. . . . Click here for information on the resident late winter antlerless deer hunting, including information for the special hunt areas, for which applications may begin today.

I started running Buck of the Week early this year. And so far, I have no regrets for that decision. I usually don't run BOTW, the celebration of big bucks bagged by hunters, until about the time of the rut, but this is going to work out. The photos and stories are coming in.

BOTW runs Wednesdays around the hunting seasons and BOTW: Unplugged, the weekly celebration of live big bucks around Chicago outdoors, on Sundays much of the year on the outdoors page in the Sun-Times. E-mail nominations for either one to


The aerial survey of northeast Illinois (really more of the three-rivers area) was discouraging, other than a high number of Canada geese in Will County (5,615). . . . State waterfowl biologist Ray Marshalla forwarded the USFWS survey on the Mississippi River, which showed more canvasbacks coming. . . . Reports on Heartland Outdoors and by Faithful reader John Saban indicated a slow weekend.

Saban had a couple good lines in his description of hunting at Lake DePue on Saturday:

nice spot, very friendly group of hunters. Not much activity though, too nice a day. Mostly woodies & teal buzzing around . Other Hunters out there thought we were crazy for driving 90 miles to shoot ducks. They understood when I described some of the pressure good spots closer to urban sprawl receive . We'll go back in a week or two depending upon conditions , got some good advice from locals on where best blinds are.

That's the reality of hunting in northeast Illinois, you sometimes look crazy.

Phone-in period for duck and goose sites runs through Jan. 27, 2012. . . . Duck season in the new south central zone is Nov. 12-Jan. 10. goose season is split, first Nov. 12-27, then Dec. 13-Jan. 31. . . . Duck season in the south zone is Nov. 24 to Jan. 22. As usual, the south zone Canada goose season is split: Nov. 24-27 and Dec. 1-Jan. 31.


Duck season in the north runs through Dec. 13. Canada goose season runs through Jan. 7. REMINDER: In the north zone, white-fronted geese open Wednesday, Oct. 26.

At the two main public sites with daily reports, action was slow. William W. Powers State Recreation Area on Chicago's Southeast Side reported 14 hunters took five geese, a mallard and eight other ducks on Saturday, then 18 hunters took eight geese and a mallard on Sunday. . . . At Heidecke Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area near Morris, on Saturday 20 hunters took nine mallards, five Canada geese and a redhead; on Sunday, 11 hunters took five mallards, five ringnecks, four redheads, a goose, a merganser.


Click here for the link to the map of change in the north and central zone lines in northeast Illinois (Grundy, Cook and Will counties) for duck and goose seasons.

Basically, the north zone goose line in northeast Illinois reverts to I-80, while the north zone duck zone remains the same, dropping south from I-80 on Route 47, then going east on Pine Bluff and roughly following that line on other roads to the Illinois/Indiana line.

Here is the complete description from the IDNR waterfowl regs for the north zone duck line in that area, from the Indiana line going west:

That portion of the state north of a line extending west from the Indiana border along Peotone-Beecher Road to Illinois Route 50, south along Illinois Route 50 to Wilmington-Peotone Road, west along Wilmington-Peotone Road to Illinois Route 53, north along Illinois Route 53 to New River Road, northwest along New River Road to Interstate Highway 55, south along I-55 to Pine Bluff-Lorenzo Road, west along Pine Bluff-Lorenzo Road to Illinois Route 47, north along Illinois Route 47 to I-80,


Duck season runs through Dec. 20. The first Canada goose season runs through Nov. 6; the second season is Nov. 24-Jan. 31. . . . Opening weekend at Mazonia/Braidwood SFWA was slow: At Braidwood, 94 hunters bagged only 48 ducks and five geese. At Mazonia North, 42 hunters took 13 ducks and two geese. At Mazonia South, 54 hunters took three ducks and two geese. REMINDER: Hunting for white-fronted geese does not open until Nov. 19.


Hunting seasons for rabbits, cock pheasants, quail and gray partridge open on Nov. 5. Click here for the annual prospects put out by the IDNR. Generally, the report looks about average, except for quail, which the winter appeared to hurt more than most.


Fall firearm season runs through Sunday. I received a couple good stories so far. . . . Archery season is ongoing. . . Applications for spring permits is underway.


First season runs through Monday. . . . . Second season is Nov. 5-13.


Season opens Friday and runs through Feb. 28, 2012.


Virginia and Sora only. Season runs through Nov. 11.


Season runs through Nov. 28.


Season runs through Dec. 18.


Most public sites are closed due to bowhunting for deer. Public lands remain open through Feb. 15.


For IDNR hunting info, click here.

For the Illinois 2011-12 Digest of Hunting & Trapping Regulations, click here.

For the 2010-11 Illinois Public Hunting Areas Report, click here.

The 2011-12 edition of the Digest of Waterfowl Hunting Regulation is now online, click here.

For Illinois crop reports (generally posted Monday afternoons, holiday weekends are the exceptions), click here. After holidays, such as Labor Day, it comes out on Tuesday.

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This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on October 25, 2011 8:51 PM.

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