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Illinois waterfowl hunting: No ‘Woodstock with guns’ in 2020, IDNR now cancels waterfowl blind draws

The Illinois DNR announced today that it had canceled the waterfowl blind draws, the wildest social event in Illinois outdoors, for 2020.

The waiting crowd for the waterfowl blind draw in 2019 at Rice Lake SFWA. Credit: Dale Bowman
The waiting crowd for the waterfowl blind draw in 2019 at Rice Lake SFWA.
Dale Bowman

I call the waterfowl blind draws the wildest social event in Illinois outdoors. And that social aspect, with some blind draws gathering thousands, may have been the undoing of Illinois’ public blind draws in 2020 with the ongoing pandemic.

On Monday, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources announced the cancellation of the waterfowl blind draws for 2020.

Heartland Outdoors publisher Jeff Lampe credited retired site superintendent Bill Douglass with dubbing the Rice Lake State Fish and Wildlife draw as “Woodstock with guns,” a phrase that captures the crowd aspect well.

Here is the word from the IDNR:

IDNR Cancels 2020 Waterfowl Blind Drawings

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) today announced it has elected to cancel all waterfowl blind drawings for 2020 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Existing blind holders will be allowed to maintain their blinds through the 2020-2021 waterfowl season; drawings canceled in 2020, as well as those drawings scheduled for 2021, will resume in 2021.

“Waterfowl blind drawings are a treasured and time-honored tradition here in Illinois, with waterfowl hunters looking forward to these in-person events annually,” said Colleen Callahan, director, IDNR. “Understanding that, and coupled with the duty we have to safeguard the health and safety of our sportsmen and women, as well as our staff, we know cancelling this year’s events is the right decision.”

Pursuant to the IDNR’s administrative rules as authorized under the Illinois Wildlife Code, hunters must be physically present to claim their blind if their name is drawn. The drawings, typically held in June and July, frequently draw attendance in the hundreds or thousands which has the potential to violate social distancing and crowd size requirements.

“I had the opportunity to attend waterfowl blind drawings last year and enjoyed it immensely; they certainly are a part of the fabric of waterfowl hunting here in Illinois,” Callahan said. “We’re looking forward to holding them again next year.”