Illinois Hunting Report: Welcome signs

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SHARE Illinois Hunting Report: Welcome signs

The record pace of bowhunting for deer and the opening of waterfowl seasons in the north zone headline this week’s Illinois Hunting Report.


A generic welcome sign to hunters, this on the side of a tavern in St. Anne in Kankakee County, was the first I saw this fall.

Seems apt for this time of year with deer, waterfowl and turkey hunting underway or beginning.

The big news remains the slow pace of crop harvest, especially in the northeast. it dramatically impacted the opening of waterfowl seasons in the north zone.

Crop harvest is picking up and should more this week, but it still lags far behind. Through Sunday, statewide corn harvest is 11 percent, compared to the five-year average of 68; beans are at 13, compared to 79 for the past five years. In the northeast, corn is only two percent harvested, beans, six.

During the hunting seasons, the extended online version of the IHR, which comes at the end of the Midwest Fishing Report in the Sun-Times on Wednesdays, is usually posted here on Tuesdays.

If you have suggestions, email me at or post in the comments.


Some bucks, especially younger ones, are showing restless signs, but we are still a week or two away from the craziness of full-blown lust.

Meanwhile, the record pace for bowhunting just goes on. Here’s the word from Paul Shelton:

Current archery harvest stands at 17408, compared to 12644 (2008), 10798 (2007), 16228 (2006), and 15845 (2005). Top five counties are Pike (835), Fulton (466), Jefferson (457), Peoria (419), and LaSalle (399). Harvest sex ratios to date (archery season only) have been 69.3% female; 30.7% male.

With all the deer being harvested, this is a good time for a reminder to participate in the Illinois Sportsmen Against Hunger program. To find a list of processors and more information go to

Firearm deer season is Nov. 21-23 and Dec. 4-7. Muzzleloader-only season is Dec. 11-13.


If you have an entry for Buck of the Week, e-mail the photo and story to I will probably start it the end of October or early November, depending on the photos that come in.


Fall shotgun season opens Saturday and runs through Nov. 1.

Bowhunting is open through Jan. 17, except it is closed during the firearm deer seasons in those counties open to firearm deer hunting.


Remember the daily bag is now six ducks not to include more than four mallards (two of which can be hens), three wood ducks, two redheads, two scaup (entire 60 days this year), one canvasback (full 60-day season), one black duck and one pintail (full 60-day season).

The daily bag on Canada geese is two.

The DU Migration Map is posted at


On opening day Saturday, even a mowed five-acre patch of weeds seemed like a good landing spot for geese, considering the lack of crop harvest otherwise. That is Jeff Norris and a couple of his guides setting up layout blinds a goose-decoy spread in Kane County.

Slow harvest made opening weekend challenging, which may explain why 85 hunters tried Heidecke on Saturday and bagged 33 ducks and seven geese. By Sunday that was 37 hunters taking 23 ducks and three geese. Numbers at William Powers: Saturday (49 hunters, 9 geese, 2 mallards, one other); Sunday (33 hunters, 1 goose, 10 mallards).

The duck season runs through Dec. 15. The Canada goose season runs through Jan. 9.


The youth waterfowl hunt is this weekend. Braidwood/Mazonia will be open.

The 60-day duck season opens Oct. 31. The Canada goose season is an odd split: Oct. 31-Nov. 15 and Nov. 24-Jan. 31.

As previously reported, Emiquon and Merwin preserves will be open to limited waterfowling. Here’s the details from The Nature Conservancy:

Limited Waterfowl Hunting to Begin at The Nature Conservancy’s Merwin Preserve at Spunky Bottoms and Emiquon Preserve WHAT: The Nature Conservancy announced today it will soon allow public waterfowl hunting at its Merwin Preserve at Spunky Bottoms and Emiquon Preserve on a limited basis. All hunters must provide proof of a valid hunting license and waterfowl stamps to be included in the drawing and/or hunting. Persons under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult. There will be no fee charged this year for waterfowl hunting at the Emiquon Preserve or Merwin Preserve. WHEN: Hunting will be permitted from October 31 through December 29 every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Drawings at each site will be held promptly at 5:15 a.m. on hunting days, and hunting will be permitted until noon. The Emiquon preserve will hold a youth waterfowl hunt on October 24 for persons 15 years old or under accompanied by an adult. Fishing will not be allowed during hunting hours. Participants must register between 5:00 a.m. and 5:15 a.m. on all hunting days for each day’s drawing. WHERE: The Merwin Preserve at Spunky Bottoms is located eight miles northwest of Meredosia in Brown County and the Emiquon Preserve is located six miles southeast of Lewistown in Fulton County. The drawings at Merwin will be held in the large machine shed just east of County Road 12 (also known as Lagrange Locks Road) approximately one-half mile south of Township Road 500. Drawings at Emiquon will be held in the small shed located just east of state Routes 97/78 and about one-half mile north of Dickson Mounds Museum Road. There are no advance drawings or reservations. WHY: Sustainable hunting opportunities are offered as a public service and to share some of the many multiple-use benefits provided by restored wetlands. The Nature Conservancy is restoring and managing these preserves as part of an effort to conserve the plant and animal communities of the Illinois River system. The Illinois River Valley is a major stopover site for migrating waterfowl in the Midwest. CONTACT: For more information on our waterfowl hunting program, contact The Nature Conservancy hunter hotline at (309) 547-2700 or office at (309) 547-2730 between 9:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday.


The 60-day duck season opens Nov. 14. The split 66-day Canada goose season is Nov. 14-15 and Nov. 29-Jan. 31.


Season is Oct. 28-Feb. 28.


First season runs through Oct. 31.


Open to Sora and Virginia only. Season runs through Nov. 13


Runs through Nov. 30.


Season runs through Dec. 20


Season ends Feb. 15, except it is closed during firearm deer seasons in applicable counties (Nov. 21-23 and Dec. 4-7). Squirrel hunting hours are one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset. The daily limit is five squirrels with a possession limit of 10.


Hunting season ends March 31, except it is closed during firearm deer seasons in applicable counties.


For IDNR hunting info, click here.

For the Illinois 2009-10 Digest of Hunting & Trapping Regulations, click here.

For the 2009-10 Digest of Waterfowl Hunting Regulations, click here.

For the 2008-09 Illinois Public Hunting Areas Report, click here.

For Illinois crop reports (generally posted Monday afternoons, holiday weekends are the exceptions), click here.

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