Bet you were expecting a photo of a deer; well, it does relate to deer hunting.
Obviously, the opening of the first firearm deer season on Friday leads this Illinois Hunting Report; but I was able to pick up a pheasant after putting up a deer stand with a buddy yesterday.
We had a half hour afterward and stretched out his dogs and had a good result.
DEER: First firearm season is Friday through Sunday, an early one this year.
Click here for an preview interview with forest wildlife program manager Paul Shelton on the upcoming firearms seasons. I would highlight his last comment.
Click here for details on check-ins for CWD counties. I plan to be at one of them tomorrow for awhile before I go hunting, just to observe.
Click here for remaining over-the-counter permits.
Click here for info on donating your deer meat.
The best standby public spot in northeast Illinois is at Heidecke Lake. The standby permit is $5 is you get drawn. Be there before 5 a.m.
The second firearm deer season is Nov. 29-Dec. 2. The second muzzleloader season is Dec. 7-9.
As to the rut, earlier this week, Shelton put some perspective on it via numbers with this update on archery season so far:
Weather conditions remained generally good this past week, except for passage of a cold front on Sunday (Nov. 11) that brought rain and stronger winds, followed by much cooler temperatures. As a result, harvest on Sunday was depressed somewhat.
Through Sunday, November 11, 2012, Illinois archery deer hunters harvested a preliminary total of 41,025 deer. Last year's preliminary harvest for the same period was 40,509, and the five-year average for 2007-2011 was 41,727.
Harvest to date (for all weeks) consists of 51% does and 49% males (20919 F; 20106 M), but male harvest continued to climb during the past week as rutting activity increased. Males comprised about 66% of the weekly harvest total. Top five counties to date are Pike (1867), Fulton (1366), Jefferson (924), Adams (920), and JoDaviess (846).
Over-the-counter sales of remaining resident archery deer permits is ongoing.
BUCK OF THE WEEK: Email nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org. Some good ones are coming in.
HUNTING WORD AT MARSEILLES: With deer hunting opening tomorrow, here is the word on hunting at Marseilles SFWA:
Marseilles SFWA Hunting Hours: Marseilles State Fish and Wildlife Area in La Salle County will be open again this year Wednesdays through Sundays for programmed hunting opportunities. The site will be closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. Site hours will be 5:30 a.m. - 6:30 p.m. During the Firearm Deer Season, the check station will be opened at 4:30 a.m. Detailed specific information can be found on the Marseilles SFWA web page on the IDNR website at www.dnr.illinois.gov. For more information, contact Illini State Park at 815-795-2448.
UPLAND GAME: Hunting for pheasants, rabbits, quail and partridge is underway with open fields almost everywhere. Picked up my first bird of the season Wednesday night.
NORTH ZONE WATERFOWL: Duck season ends Dec. 18. White-fronted geese hunting opened on Monday.
It was a slow weekend for waterfowlers at public sites in the northeast.
Char at Heidecke Lake reported
Saturday: 13 hunters, five mallards, three gadwalls, one shoveler
Sunday: 16 hunters, six mallards, one canvasback, green-winged teal, seven gadwalls, one shoveler, one wood duck, one ruddy duck
Staff at William Powers SRA reported 13 hunters blanked Saturday; while five hunters bagged two other ducks on Sunday.
CENTRAL ZONE WATERFOWL: Duck season ends Dec. 25. The second Canada goose season opens Tuesday. Hunting for white-fronted geese opens Monday. I did not get the update from Braidwood/Mazonia SFWA.
SOUTH CENTRAL WATERFOWL: Waterfowl seasons are open. Hunting for white-fronted geese opens Monday.
SOUTH WATERFOWL: Waterfowl seasons open Nov. 22.
YOUTH GOOSE HUNT: Here is the word from the IDNR:
Youth Goose Hunt: Interested youth can register now for the 13th annual Central Illinois Youth Goose Hunt sponsored by the IDNR on Dec. 26-27 at private waterfowl hunting clubs in Peoria, Fulton and Knox counties. Youth hunters must phone in to 217-785-8060 to register for a drawing to participate in the hunt. The registration deadline is Friday, Dec. 7. The drawing will be conducted on Dec. 10 and youth hunters selected will be notified by mail. First-time applicants will be given a priority over previous participants in the drawing. The hunt is open to youngsters ages 10-15 at the time of the hunt. All applicants must have successfully completed a hunter safety education course, possess a valid Illinois hunting or sportsman's license, have a Harvest Information Program (HIP) registration number, and have a 20-gauge or larger shotgun. Youth hunt participants must be accompanied by a parent or guardian who must possess a valid firearm owner's identification (FOID) card. To register for the hunt or for more information, call 217-785-8060.
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: Click here for info on trapping of river otters, which runs through March 31, same as beaver trapping.
Trapping for raccoon, opossum, skunk, weasel, mink, fox (red and gray), coyote in the north zone runs through Jan. 20; in the south zone, it is through Jan. 25. . . . Beaver trapping runs through March 31.
CROWS: Season runs through Feb. 28.
TURKEYS: Click here to apply for spring hunting permits. Deadline for the first lottery is Dec. 15.
Archery season is open.
Click here for details on the over-the-counter sales of remaining fall turkey permits.
Fall shotgun season ended, but the preliminary harvest is not out yet.
DOVES: Season is closed.
SQUIRREL: Most public sites closed on Sept. 30 with the start of bowhunting for deer. But virtually all foliage has dropped.
RAIL: Season ends Friday. I would love to hear from somebody who hunts rails.
WOODCOCK: Season runs through Dec. 3. Some are around.
SNIPE: Season runs through Dec. 23. Again, I would love to hear from somebody who hunts them.