Dream season is upon us with bowhunting opening on Monday for deer; and that leads this Illinois Hunting Report; click here today's column--a Q&A with deer project manager Tom Micetich--about the issues and highlights of bowhunting deer in Illinois.
In years past, I have done the IHR on Tuesdays, but it will be on a more variable basis this fall.
DEER NOTES: EHD reports are starting to mount across the state. It is up to at least 73 counties with at least one report of EHD. The statewide numbers should be updated in the next few days. That is probably the biggest news going into the season this year.
Click here for info on over-the-counter (OTC) sales of remaining resident archery deer permits.
YOUTH DEER HUNT: Below is the information, including open public sites, on the youth deer hunt next weekend:
Illinois Youth Firearm Deer Hunt is October 6 and 7
The 2012 Illinois Youth Firearm Deer Hunt is Oct. 6-7 for those hunters with a valid Youth Deer Permit who have not reached their 16th birthday by the first day of the hunt. Youth Deer Permits are available over-the-counter at Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) license vendors throughout the state. Hunters may purchase only one permit (either-sex) for one of the open counties and all participating youths must have completed an IDNR-approved Hunter Education course.
SPRINGFIELD, IL -
All youth hunters must have a current, valid Youth Deer Permit and have a hunting license or Apprentice Hunting License, unless exempt. Each hunter participating in the Youth Deer Hunt while using an Apprentice Hunter License must be accompanied by a non-hunting, validly-licensed (Illinois hunting license) parent, guardian or grandparent. All other hunters participating in the Youth Deer Hunt must each be accompanied by a non-hunting supervisor (parent, guardian or responsible adult) who has a valid Illinois hunting license or who has in his or her possession a valid Firearm Owners Identification (FOID) card. The non-hunting supervisor must wear the orange garments required of gun deer hunters (blaze orange cap and upper garment with a minimum of 400 square inches of solid blaze orange material), and must remain with the hunting youth. Each supervisor may only accompany a single youth at any given time during the hunt.
All Illinois counties except Cook, DuPage and Lake Counties, and the portion of Kane County east of State Route 47, are open for the youth deer season. Hunting hours are one-half hour before sunrise on to one-half hour after sunset on Oct. 6 and 7. The bag limit is one deer per legally authorized permit. All either-sex permits are subject to the following restrictions: no hunter, regardless of the quantity or type of permits in his/her possession, may harvest more than two (2) antlered deer during a year, including the youth, archery, muzzleloader and firearm seasons.
Successful hunters must register their harvest by 10 p.m. on the same calendar day the deer is taken by calling the toll-free telephone check-in system at 1-866-ILCHECK, or by accessing the online check-in system at http://www.dnr.illinois.gov/hunting/Pages/HarvestReporting.aspx. They will be provided with a confirmation number to verify that they checked in their harvest. This number must be written by the hunter on the temporary harvest tag (leg tag).
Youth hunters are reminded that archery deer season will be underway and archery hunters will be afield during the Oct. 6-7 youth hunt. Archery deer hunters and all other hunters are reminded that they must comply with requirements to wear blaze orange the weekend of the youth deer hunt (except in counties closed to the youth deer season).
The IDNR-managed sites in the counties listed below are open to youth hunting during the Youth Deer Hunt. Note that some of the IDNR sites allow participation in the Youth Deer Hunt only by site-specific permit. Contact the sites listed below for special site regulations:
Adams - Mississippi River Pools 21 and 22
Adams/Brown - Siloam Springs
Alexander - Cape Bend SFWA, Horseshoe Lake SFWA
Calhoun/Jersey - Mississippi River SFWA
Cass - Jim Edgar Panther Creek SFWA
Clinton - Carlyle Lake - East Fork Unit, Eldon Hazlet SP - North Allen Branch Unit
Crawford - Crawford County SFWA
Effingham - Wildcat Hollow SHA
Fayette - Carlyle Lake SFWA
Franklin - Campbell Pond SHA
Hancock - Cedar Glen SNA
Henderson - Mississippi River - Pool 18
Jackson -Kinkaid Lake SFWA; Burning Star 5
Jackson/Union - Giant City SP
Jackson/Williamson/Union - Crab Orchard NWR
Jasper - Meeker SHA, Newton Lake SFWA
Jefferson/Franklin - Rend Lake SFWA and COE managed areas of Rend Lake
Jefferson/Hamilton - Ten Mile Creek SFWA
Jersey - Copperhead Hollow SFWA, Pere Marquette SP
Jo Daviess - Apple River Canyon (Salem/Thompson Units), Hanover Bluff, Rall Woods (Falling Down Prairie), Tapley Woods, Upper Mississippi River NWFR - Lost Mound Unit to include IDNR properties Eagles Landing and Stewardship Park (special permit required from USFWS), Wards Grove, Winston Tunnel
Johnson -Cypress Pond SNA, Deer Pond SNA, Ferne Clyffe -Cedar Draper Units only, Glass Hill SNA, Skinner Farm SHA, Wise Ridge SNA
Johnson/Pulaski/Massac - Cache River SNA
Knox - Spoon River SF
Lawrence - Chauncey Marsh
Lee - Green River SWA
Marshall - Marshall SFWA
Mason - Sand Ridge SF
Massac - Fort Massac SP, Mermet Lake SFWA, Seilbeck Forest SNA
Menard County - Oakford CA
Mercer - Mississippi River - Pool 17
Moultrie - Lake Shelbyville Project Lands in Moultrie County including Shelbyville SFWA
Montgomery - Coffeen Lake SFWA (Upland Management Area only)
Peoria - Portions of Marshall SFWA
Perry - Pyramid SRA (East Conant, Galum and Old Park Management units only)
Pike - Mississippi River (Pool 24), Ray Norbut SFWA
Pope - Dixon Springs SP, Dog Island
Randolph - Turkey Bluffs SFWA
Randolph/St. Clair/Monroe - Kaskaskia River SFWA
Saline - Saline County SFWA
Sangamon - Sangamon River SFWA
Shelby - Hidden Springs SF, Lake Shelbyville Project Lands (NOT including Eagle Creek and Wolf Creek State Recreation Areas)
Schuyler/Brown - Weinberg King SFWA including Scripps and Spunky Bottoms units
Tazewell - Mackinaw SFWA
Union -Trail of Tears SF, and Union County SFWA
Union/Alexander - Devil's Island SFWA
Note: Crab Orchard, Dixon Springs, and Lake Le-Aqua-Na offer youth firearm hunts during the statewide firearm deer season and require a site specific firearm deer permit.
For more information on the Youth Deer Hunt in Illinois, check the IDNR website at www.dnr.illinois.gov/hunting/deer.
TURKEYS: Archery season opens Monday.
Click here for details on the over-the-counter sales of remaining fall turkey permits.
Fall shotgun season is Oct. 20-28.
WOODCHUCK TRAPPING: Season ends today.
DOVES: At least in the south suburban counties, I saw an influx of birds again last week, but maybe that is just the result of the rapid harvest rate making them more visible.
First season runs through Oct. 28. Second season is Nov. 3-14
The daily bag is 15, with a special reminder to read the note below on what counts in the bag.
Note: In recent years, there has been some different doves, other than just mourning doves, being spotted in the field more commonly. Here are the regulations on the various doves and their hunting, from the Illinois Digest of Hunting and Trapping Regulations:
The daily bag and possession limits include mourning doves and white-winged doves in the aggregate. There is no bag limit on Eurasian-collared doves and ringed turtle doves, but they may be taken only during the established season dates and hours and using only legal methods for mourning doves. Hunters may not remain in the field for the purpose of taking Eurasian-collared doves or ringed turtle doves after they reach their daily bag limit for mourning/white-winged doves.
SQUIRREL: Most public sites close after today with the opening of bowhunting for deer on Monday.
RAIL: Season runs through Nov. 16. I would love to hear from somebody who hunts rails.
WATERFOWL & BAITING CLARIFICATION: Here's the word of clarification from the IDNR via the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, on baiting definitions and regulations in this drought year:
Dear Waterfowl Hunters:
Due to ongoing drought conditions in Illinois, some farmers are mowing or tilling their unharvested crop fields to collect crop insurance payments. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) reminds hunters that the manipulation, including mowing or tilling, of unharvested crop fields is not a normal agricultural practice for waterfowl hunting purposes. The IDNR has received guidance on this issue from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Federal baiting laws still apply, even during times of drought. Therefore, it is a violation of the baiting laws under the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act if scattered grain is not totally removed 10 days prior to hunting. Hunters should familiarize themselves with baiting laws in Illinois. For more information on waterfowl baiting regulations, refer to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service website link regarding baiting regulations at http://www.fws.gov/le/waterfowl-hunting-and-baiting.html.
Questions regarding hunting crop fields mowed or tilled due to drought insurance claims;
1. If a standing grain crop is 100% void of any ears (corn field produced no ears), can the field be mowed then hunted? Yes, as long as there is no grain present in the field. A field that produces NO ears of corn will probably be a rare occurrence.
2. If a standing grain crop has any amount of grain present after it is mowed, can it be hunted? No, it is a "baited area" until 10 days after the complete removal of the grain.
3. Can a standing crop that was mowed be disked and made legal for hunting? The field can only be hunted after all exposed grain has been completely removed or buried for a period of 10 days. Hunters should keep in mind that if a dry field is tilled to the extent that no grain is visibly present, strong winds or the first rain is likely to wash off some covered grain, thus still making it a baited situation.
4. Why can a person not hunt over a mowed area? Under federal baiting regulations, mowing or tilling of a standing crop is not a "normal agricultural planting, harvesting, post-harvest manipulation, or normal soil stabilization practice" as determined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Cooperative Extension Service.
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For questions about federal baiting regulations, please call 217-782-6431, Monday-Friday 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.