Jim Spiros sent a coming-of-age tale, which leads this Illinois Hunting Report.
I've had the chance to hunt with Jim, a son of Chicago's Southwest Side now living in central Illinois, and his sons. He is my wife's employer.
The proud dad, Jim, emailed this story of his son Alex:
As you know, wild pheasants are not easy to come by in our state. Although Alex has shot his fair share of doves and clay pigeons, a wild rooster is a much more difficult task.
Our German shorthair when [he pointed] at the end of a ditch giving him a very easy flush, but he missed cleanly with two shots. Later in the day, a rooster got up long on our dog, and he pulled up on the bird but just as he was about to shoot, a much closer rooster got up and he pulled off the long bird, focused on the close bird, rocked it with the first shot and finished it off with the second shot. I was really proud of him that he had the presence of mind to pull off the long bird, and focus on the closer bird. I was really proud of that decision-making.
It was an awesome experience to see him take his first pheasant ever, which was a wild bird, at the same age that I took my first pheasant-12 years of age.
The story made me think of the first time I shot a wild pheasant. If my memory is right, I was a couple years into hunting and was at least 14. My first game bagged at 12 were rabbits and squirrels, which were the coming-of-age game when I was growing up.
I think the coming-of-age game in recent decades has shifted dramatically toward deer and turkey.
That makes a perfect segue to deer hunting.
DEER: When forest wildlife program manager Paul Shelton sends the numbers come for the firearm seasons, I will post them separately. Boy, that was not quite the warmest I have ever hunted deer in, but Sunday probably ranked the top three warmest for me.
Muzzleloader season is Friday through Sunday. Weather looks a lot more like fall for it.
Some over-the-counter muzzleloader permits remain. Click here for the latest list of counties with remaining OTC permits.
Heidecke Lake is the best nearby, stand-by public site. Be there before 5 a.m.
Because of the firearms seasons, we have not had an archery update in a while. If one comes, I will post separately.
Over-the-counter sales of remaining resident archery deer permits is ongoing.
Click here for info on donating your deer meat.
BUCK OF THE WEEK: Email nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org. Good ones are coming in.
TURKEYS: The deadline for the second lottery for spring turkey permits is Jan. 11. Click here to apply online.
Archery season is open.
Click here for details on the over-the-counter sales of remaining fall archery turkey permits.
I have not seen the preliminary harvest report for fall shotgun season yet.
HUNTING WORD AT MARSEILLES: 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: We could use some snow, especially for rabbit hunters. Maybe next week will will actually have some snow cover. Hunting for pheasants, rabbits, quail and partridge is underway with open fields everywhere.
NORTH ZONE WATERFOWL: Duck season ends Dec. 18.
Maybe later this week will finally produce a push of ducks. It was a slow weekend for waterfowlers at public sites in the northeast.
Char at Heidecke Lake reported:
Saturday: 40 hunters, 15 mallards, 16 bluebills (scaup), one shoveler, three pintails. Sunday: 22 hunters, four mallards, four gadwalls, one green-winged teal
Staff at William Powers SRA reported a very slow weekend:
Saturday: 13 hunters, one other duck. Sunday: six hunters, nothing
CENTRAL ZONE WATERFOWL: Duck season ends Dec. 25. Things are slow at Braidwood/Mazonia SFWA.
SOUTH CENTRAL WATERFOWL: Waterfowl seasons are open.
SOUTH WATERFOWL: Waterfowl seasons are open.
AERIAL WATERFOWL SURVEYS: Click here to see the results of aerial waterfowl surveys.
YOUTH GOOSE HUNT: Deadline is Friday for this.
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.
SQUIRREL: Most public sites closed on Sept. 30 with the start of bowhunting for deer. But virtually all foliage has dropped.
SNIPE: Season runs through Dec. 23. Again, I would love to hear from somebody who hunts them.
TRAPPING: 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.