Deer and crops: Illinois Hunting Report

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A record opening four days of bowhunting for deer, despite an extremely slow crop harvest, lead this week’s Illinois Hunting Report.


There was a lot of this last week, farmers trying to get into the fields with their combines, then being interrupted by weather and forced to idle their machines in the field.

OK, I’ll be honest I like the starkness of the image of an idled combine in the field.

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. (Cutting it close tonight.)

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

Back to the harvest. Statewide crop harvest is very slowly underway. Statewide, corn is five percent harvested; soybeans, six. However, in northeast Illinois, both remain around one percent and rains stalled even that beginning.

I saw fields, particularly beans but also a couple cornfields, start to be combined beginning last week, then it came to a halt with the rains.

Ken Gortowski sent this observation:

Draw a line on a map from Yorkville to Plainfield to Montgomery to Plano and back to Yorkville. Over the weekend I drove on back roads throughout that area and a little more. I did not see a single harvested field, either soybean or corn, except for one. This is very unusual. Usually by now something is being harvested. If it weren’t for the rain on Friday, I have a feeling some soy bean fields may have got cut. Many of the bean fields look done, brown and withered. I’m certain the bean fields were pretty much all mud. The corn fields are still surprisingly green. I can’t imagine any of them getting cut any time soon. Usually the stalks are dead, dry and withered before that happens. The one bean field that was cut had happened last week before the rains. It’s near the intersection of Route 30 and 111th Street. A sod farm had converted some of their sod fields back to soybeans. So this soybean field is surrounded by sod. Which is surrounded by semi-finished and semi-inhabited subdivisions. Which makes it a safe haven. Which is why last week it was filled with geese. By the hundreds. I want to know how they get trained to look for these things. How do they know a field is being harvested. Do some geese go out looking for clouds of harvest dust billowing out from behind a tractor? And just what do they say to each other to give each other directions to get there? Do they do little dances like the honey bees do that denote direction and distance? I guess how they do it doesn’t really matter. A field full of hundreds of geese is an impressive site. October 17th is the opening of goose season here in the north. Farmers in the Yorkville area may want to delay corn harvest till after that. Two days before the 17th they should go cut a bean field that is either bordered by a tree line or surrounded by corn. Then I would go sit in with the trees or corn and just jump shoot what lands in the field. There’s a place I drive past every day that is surrounded on three sides by tree lines. The guys that hunt this always sit out in the middle of the field. I say three hunters in each tree line on signal all walk out towards the middle. The geese won’t have anywhere to go and they’ll be surrounded. Of course I know so little about the laws on goose hunting, other than sitting in a blind, that I’m not even sure jump shooting them like that is legal. But I’ll be reading up on that this week. Then I’m going to go introduce myself to that land owner.

Even with many fields still unharvested, a lot of hunters crawled into the deer stands, which is why the deer harvest for the first four days was so high. With that, to deer.


Paul Shelton sent this report Monday on the first four days of bowhunting (Thursday-Sunday):

Harvest this year was 6250, compared to 5059 (2008), 2608 (2007), 3632 (2006), and 4463 (2005). Not all of the previous years’ results contain an entire weekend, which definitely factors into such early season results. 2008 was Wed-Sat; 2007 was Mon-Thurs; 2006 was Sun-Wed; and 2005 was Sat-Tues. Opening day was a little rainy throughout much of the state, with some rain in the morning in areas to the south. However, temperatures have been very cooperative. Substantial amounts of corn remain unharvested throughout the state. Sex ratios this year so far are 72% female; 28% male. Top five counties are Pike (298), Jefferson (196), Vermilion (150), Fulton (150), and LaSalle (142).


Saturday and Sunday is the youth deer hunt, so even bowhunters must follow the blaze orange regulations except in Cook, DuPage and Lake counties, and that portion of Kane County east of Route 47.

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

To participate in the Illinois Sportsmen Against Hunger program, find a list of processors and more information at


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


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 youth season is this weekend, Saturday and Sunday. Jeff Norris of Fox Valley Guide Service noted that the crops situation will impact the youth hunt greatly. And he added,

The molt migration of Canada geese began their return to the area last week. I also have three wood ducks on the pond by the house that are a new addition.

The 60-day duck season opens Oct. 17. The Canada goose season is Oct. 17-Jan. 9.


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.


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


First season runs through Oct. 31.


Bowhunting is open.


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


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.


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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