Deer in rut and opening weekend of the upland-game seasons lead this Illinois Hunting Report.
The good news for most hunters is that crop harvest if virtually complete. As of Sunday statewide, corn was 94 percent harvested and beans 97.
With all those open fields, I could see very few hunters Sunday coming home midday from opening weekend of pheasant hunting. I hunted with a group associated with the Pioneer chapter of Pheasants Forever in Iroquois/Ford counties (see photo above). And I saw only one other group of hunters, just outside of Milford, in a 60-mile drive through prime country.
John Saban, who has been contributing hunting reports fairly regularly, had this after hunting opening weekend in swamps and filter strips from Pontiac to Fairbury:
We saw approx. 40 to 50 pheasants , Getting shots at about 12 , killing 4, lost 1 ,not a great ratio. It was nice to see some birds out there. What I didn't see was other hunters , not 1 group besides us in the heart of Illinois pheasant country . We didn't stop by any saloons for lunch & beers where you would always find other hunters ,but not seeing anyone else hunting felt a little strange.
It is strange, but then when you see the number of deer killed over the weekend, you know more hunters were up in the deer stands for the big weekend of the rut than pushing out fields for pheasants. Deer hunting is truly king of 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 email@example.com or post in the comments.
Big bucks are falling--there's a dandy nontypical featured in tomorrow's column--and the percentage of males in the weekend harvest shot up.
Here's the report for Illinois bowhunting for deer through Sunday from forest wildlife program manager Paul Shelton:
Through November 6, Illinois archers have harvested 33,039 deer, compared to 33,459 during the same period last year. Top five counties to date are Pike (1591), Fulton (1000), Adams (720), Peoria (704), and Jefferson (702).
Hunters took 4,840 deer during the November 5-6 weekend, the highest two-day total since opening weekend. Conditions were best on Saturday, as significant winds blew throughout most the day Sunday.
Cumulative composition of the harvest to date has been 58% female: 42% male, but harvest during the past weekend was 61% male.
Over the counter sales of remaining firearm permits for deer is underway through Dec. 11.
Late-Winter Firearm Antlerless-only Deer county permits will be available over the counter (OTC) through DNR Direct license and permit vendors beginning on Tues., Dec. 13. County permits for the CWD Deer Season will also be available OTC beginning on Dec. 13. The dates for the seven-day Late-Winter and CWD deer seasons are Dec. 29, 2011-Jan. 1, 2012 and Jan. 13-15, 2012. Click here for information on the resident late winter antlerless deer hunting, including information for the special hunt areas. Applications for the special hunt areas late winter run through Nov. 28.
I started running Buck of the Week, the celebration of big bucks bagged by hunters, early this year. The photos and stories are coming in, and there have been some good ones.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Hunting seasons for rabbits, cock pheasants, bobwhite quail and gray partridge opened Saturday. I didn't talk to any rabbit or quail hunters, but those who got out for pheasants, at least saw them despite high winds on Sunday.
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 the other species. In fact, Wefer is suggesting that hunter's use personal restraint on the bag for quail late in the season. Bags are same as what they have been.
Hunting for foxes (red and gray) opens Thursday and runs through Jan. 31, except it is closed during the two firearm deer seasons.
Virginia and Sora only. Season ends Friday.
Second season ends Sunday.
NORTH ZONE WATERFOWL
Duck season in the north runs through Dec. 13. Canada goose season runs through Jan. 7.
At the two main public sites with daily reports, action was fair. At Heidecke Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area near Morris, site staff said Sunday was the best day with 13 hunters taking 20 ducks, 10 of them mallards. . . . At William W. Powers State Recreation Area on Chicago's Southeast Side, site staff reported Saturday was best with 13 hunters taking 11 ducks, including three mallards.
CENTRAL ZONE WATERFOWL
Duck season runs through Dec. 20. The second Canada goose season is Nov. 24-Jan. 31. I did not reach site staff at Braidwood/Mazonia, so no weekend updates. REMINDER: Hunting for white-fronted geese does not open until Nov. 19.
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,
Duck season opens Saturday in the new South Central zone and runs through Jan. 10. Goose season is split, first Nov. 12-27, then Dec. 13-Jan. 31.
GENERAL WATERFOWL NOTES
The lull goes on, though in decades past Veteran's Day was considered the peak flight date in Illinois. . . . Phone-in period for duck and goose sites runs through Jan. 27, 2012. . . . South zone youth hunt is this weekend. . . . 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.
Trapping seasons open in the south zone on Thursday for raccoon, opossum, skunk, weasel, mink, fox (red and gray), coyote, badger. The north zone is already open.
RACCOON & OPOSSUM HUNTING
Hunting season runs through Feb. 10 in the north. In the south, the season opens Thursday and runs through Feb. 15.
I have not seen the preliminary count for the fall firearm season yet. . . . Archery season is ongoing. . . First application period for spring permits runs through Dec. 1. Click here.
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.
Season runs through Feb. 28, 2012.
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.