Overall, it was a surprisingly solid opening weekend for waterfowl in the north zone, and that leads this Illinois Hunting Report.
That's guide Jason Polowy of Fox Valley Guide Service checking the skies for geese on opening morning Saturday in Kane County.
Crop harvest moved along last week--corn is 64 percent complete) and soybeans 73, both ahead of the 5-year average--but I suspect it will slow again back to average this week.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or post in the comments.
NORTH ZONE WATERFOWL OPENER
Duck season in the north runs through Dec. 13. Canada goose season runs through Jan. 7. REMINDER: In the north zone, white-fronted geese do not open until Oct. 26.
Here are some opening weekend reports.
I hunted Kane County with guide Jeff Norris of Fox Valley Guide Service. I had a wonderful time with the wood ducks before dawn. Should have had my limit, but at least put two in the bag.. The geese flew much earlier than expected, almost right at dawn. We only put one goose down, the only one to finish in the decoys. Meanwhile over at the other goose blind, guide Mark Kibler and his Lab Stone limited out five hunters. Such is goose hunting.
Faithful reader John Saban reported ``geese and more geese'' with three hunters limiting in an hour. He also shot a goose, banded near Caton Farm Road near where they hunted in the far southwest suburbs. ``Freaky thing is, it was banded on my birthday of this year,'' Saban e-mailed. They also bagged two woodies and four mallards.
In the northern and northwest suburbs, Guide Mike Richied of Ultimate Waterfowlers reported ``moderate success'' opening weekend, but they saw ``very high numbers of geese for this time of year and extremely high numbers of ducks, especially wood ducks and teal.''
At the two main public sites with daily reports, action was decent to good. William W. Powers State Recreation Area on Chicago's Southeast Side had a strong opener: 39 hunters bagged six geese, 20 mallards and eight other ducks on Saturday, then 22 hunters shot a goose, 10 mallards and eight other ducks Sunday. . . At Heidecke Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area near Morris, Sunday was best: 27 hunters bagged 18 mallards, seven shovelers, two redheads and a gadwall.
WATERFOWL ZONE LINE CHANGES
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,
The best news is many are reporting early signs of young bucks getting randy, or at least trying to get randy. We are getting near to the big boys losing their native sense.
Harvest by bowhunters is about the same as last year. Forest wildlife program manager Paul Shelton sent this:
Through October 16, Illinois archery deer hunters harvested 12,535 deer, compared to 12,606 during the same period last year. Though lower temperatures reminded hunters that it was indeed fall, windy conditions over the weekend probably dampened harvest somewhat. Harvest sex ratios to date have been 71% females/29% males. Top five counties to date are Pike (488), Fulton (331), Jefferson (309), Vermilion (287), and Peoria (276).
I started running Buck of the Week early this year. 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 email@example.com
CENTRAL ZONE WATERFOWL
Duck season and the first goose season open Saturday. Duck season runs through Dec. 20. The first Canada goose season runs through Nov. 6; the second season is Nov. 24-Jan. 31. . . . The weekend youth hunt at Mazonia/Braidwood SFWA was encouraging: Youth shot 24 ducks and a goose at Braidwood, and eight ducks and two geese at Mazonia. REMINDER: Hunting for white-fronted geese does not open until Nov. 19.
Archery season is ongoing. . . . Firearm season is Saturday through Oct. 30.
Season runs through Nov. 28.
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. . . . 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.
First season runs through Oct 31. . . . Second season is Nov. 5-13.
Virginia and Sora only. Season runs through Nov. 11.
Season runs through Dec. 18.
Season is Oct. 28-Feb. 28, 2012.
Most public sites are closed due to bowhunting for deer. Public lands remain open through Feb. 15.
ILLINOIS HUNTING ONLINE
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.