The rut nearing for deer hunters leads the Illinois Hunting Report,
but there's also the opening of upland game seasons on Saturday and the first trapping season since 1929 for river otters opening on Monday.
DEER: Forest wildlife program manager Paul Shelton sent this update on archery season so far. Take note of how much the percentage of bucks jumped last week. It's time.
Here's the update:
Through Sunday, October 28, 2012, Illinois archery deer hunters harvested a preliminary total of 21,313 deer. Last year's preliminary harvest for the same period was 20,430, and the five-year average for 2007-2011 was 20,847.
Harvest to date (for all weeks) consists of 63% does and 37% males (13506 F; 7807 M). The proportion of males in the harvest really accelerated this past week, and cool conditions prevailed throughout the entire period. Males comprised about 46% of the past week's harvest. Top five counties to date are Pike (799), Fulton (641), Peoria (489), Jefferson (453), and Madison (419).
Over-the-counter sales of remaining county deer permits is underway. . . . Over-the-counter sales of remaining resident archery deer permits is ongoing.
BUCK OF THE WEEK: I started running Buck of the Week early this year and expect to see some good ones in the next few weeks. Email nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org.
UPLAND GAME: Hunting for pheasants, rabbits, quail and partridge opens Saturday. Conditions look reasonable and harvest is virtually complete. Click here for an overall preview, considering the Drought of 2012. Daily bags and regs are same as they have been for years.
NORTH ZONE WATERFOWL: It will be interesting to see what the three days of north winds blew in when most public sites in northeast Illinois reopen on Wednesday.
By reports from the local public sites, Saturday was the better day over the weekend.
Char at Heidecke Lake reported that 29 hunters hunters reported 11 mallards, three scaup, five ringnecks, two buffleheads, one black duck, one wood duck, two mergansers, one Canada goose and one shoveler on Saturday, then 25 hunters took three mallards, two scaup, five gadwalls, one shoveler, one redhead and one pintail on Sunday.
Staff at William Powers SRA reported: 23 hunters took three mallards and 8 other ducks Saturday, then nine hunters bagged two geese, two mallards and three others on Sunday.
CENTRAL ZONE WATERFOWL: I thought maybe the north winds would bring in fresh birds, but Mark Meents, site super at Mazonia/Braidwood SFWA, said when talking to the private clubs around his site they weren't seeing a lot of new birds yet.
Meents reported about 100 ducks, a mix including redheads, diver and some mallards on the central opener on Saturday, then it dropped in half on Sunday.
SOUTH CENTRAL YOUTH WATERFOWL: Youth waterfowl hunt is this week in the south central zone. Here are the open public sites: Campbell Pond SHA, Carlyle Lake SFWA, Kaskaskia SFWA, Kinkaid Lake SFWA, Mississippi River Pools (All located in South Central Zone), Oakwood Bottoms, Pyramid SRA (Captain, Denmark, Galum, and East Conant Units), Rend Lake Project Land and Waters and Ten Mile Creek SFWA.
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.
TRAPPING NORTH ZONE: Trapping for raccoon, opossum, skunk, weasel, mink, fox (red and gray), coyote and opens in the north zone on Monday and runs through Jan. 20. . . . Beaver trapping also opens Monday in the north and runs through March 31. . . . River otter trapping, first since 1929, follows the same dates as trapping for beaver in the north.
TRAPPING SOUTH ZONE: Trapping for raccoon, opossum, skunk, weasel, mink, fox (red and gray), coyote and opens in the south zone on Nov. 10 and runs through Jan. 25. . . . Beaver trapping also opens Nov. 10 in the south and runs through March 31. . . . River otter trapping follows the same dates as trapping for beaver in the south.
CROWS: Season opened Sunday and runs through Feb. 28.
TURKEYS: Fall shotgun season ended, but the preliminary harvest is not out yet.
Archery season is open.
Click here for details on the over-the-counter sales of remaining fall turkey permits.
DOVES: Second season opens Saturday and runs through Nov. 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. But virtually all foliage has dropped, so hunting should be easier once the winds finally settle at private spots.
RAIL: Season runs through Nov. 16. I would love to hear from somebody who hunts rails.
WOODCOCK: Season runs through Dec. 3. Some are around. We jumped two last week in a Kane County cornfield.
SNIPE: Season runs through Dec. 23. Again, I would love to hear from somebody who hunts them.