The youth deer hunt
set a record harvest over the weekend and leads the Illinois Hunting Report.
In years past, I have done the IHR on Tuesdays, but it will be on a more variable basis this fall.
DEER: Forest wildlife program manager Paul Shelton sent this update on archery season so far and a recap of the recap of the record youth hunt on Saturday and Sunday.
Through Monday, October 8, 2012, Illinois archery deer hunters harvested a preliminary total of 7,932 deer. Although the season started slowly because of a Monday opener, harvest picked up significantly over the weekend with excellent hunting conditions. Last year, with a Saturday opener, preliminary harvest through the same period was 8,272. The previous five-year average harvest (2007-2011) for Oct. 1-8 was 7,297 deer. Generally speaking, counties to the north and west did better than last year, while counties to the south and east lagged behind last year.
Harvest to date consisted of 69% does and 31% males (5504; 2428). Top five counties were Pike (291), Fulton (235), Peoria (190), Vermilion (169), and LaSalle (167).
The 2-day Youth Deer Season (October 6-7) concluded Sunday with a preliminary reported harvest of 3,114 deer, compared to a preliminary reported total of 1,853 for that season last year. Young hunters were able to enjoy cool hunting conditions for the first time in several years, and this year's total is a new record for the season. Previous five-year average harvest (2007-2011) for the Youth Season was 1549 deer, and the previous record harvest was 2,409 deer in 2009.
Harvest sex ratios consisted of 49% does and 51% males (1514; 1600). Top five counties were Pike (166), Fulton (106), Adams (104), Jefferson (95), and Randolph (83).
Over-the-counter sales of remaining county deer permits begin on Tuesday. I have not looked at what counties remain available. . . . Over-the-counter sales of remaining resident archery deer permits is ongoing.
EHD reports keep coming. Through Sept. 30, more than 2,000 are officially counted from 76 counties.
BUCK OF THE WEEK: Archery season is open. I am already receiving enough nominations that I might start running Buck of the Week in October this year. Email nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org.
NORTH ZONE YOUTH WATERFOWL: The youth waterfowl hunt in the north zone is this weekend.
Open public sites are Chain O'Lakes State Park, Des Plaines State Fish and Wildlife Area (SFWA), Lake DePue SFWA, Sinnissippi Lake Wildlife Area, Mississippi River Pools (All located in North Zone), William W. Powers State Recreation Area (SRA).
AERIAL WATERFOWL SURVEYS: Click here to see the results of aerial waterfowl surveys.
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.
. . .
For questions about federal baiting regulations, please call 217-782-6431, Monday-Friday 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
TURKEYS: Archery season is open.
Click here for details on the over-the-counter sales of remaining fall turkey permits.
Fall shotgun season is Oct. 20-28.
DOVES: I am seeing very few in northern Illinois. 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 closed on Sept. 30 with the start of bowhunting for deer.
RAIL: Season runs through Nov. 16. I would love to hear from somebody who hunts rails.
SNIPE: Season runs through Dec. 23. Again, I would love to hear from somebody who hunts them.