Illinois Hunting Report: Opening day for deer

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Of course opening of the first firearm deer season leads this week’s Illinois Hunting Report. With a side nod to the fact crop harvest remains very slow and is impacting nearly all hunting.


This is a good buck, a nine-pointer bagged by Nate Teske in Will County while bowhunting last week, if not a record-book trophy, just that kind that inspires the majority of us in our dreams.

And with the first firearm deer season opening Friday, there’s lots of dreaming to do.

Dreams may be impacted by the reality of the near-record slow crop harvest. Through Sunday, statewide corn harvest stood at 52 percent, only 31 in northeast Illinois. And considering the weather, not much will be done this week either.

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.


First firearm deer season is Friday through Sunday, the second firearm season is Dec. 3-6. Muzzleloader-only season is Dec. 11-13.

The forecast looks like the rain will clear out before Friday and the weekend will feature fairly normal and stable fall hunting weather across the state.

Signs (such as big bucks submitted for Buck of the Week in the last week) indicate the rut peaked last week. Another sign came from biologist Paul Shelton, who said, “Harvest sex ratios for the week were 32.6 percent does to 67.4 percent bucks.” But in a separate interview, he said that he thought plenty of breeding activity remained.

Otherwise, slow crop harvest and weekend weather slowed what was expected to be the big weekend of the year for bowhunters. According Shelton, through Sunday bowhunters had harvested 49,546 deer, which trailed the rates of 2005, ’06 and ’07. That could end up being a good sign for the firearm deer hunters, there were lots of good deer well protected by the corn in the fields during the peak of the bowhunting the past week or two, and will be protected over by the remaining corn in many spots through the firearm seasons.

FIREARM DEER NOTES: The big change in regulations this year is that remaining permits will be sold over the counter up until the end of the second firearm season. . . . Winnebago County hunters need to remember the check station was moved to Rock Cut State Park. . . . Remember to participate in the Illinois Sportsmen Against Hunger program. To find a list of processors and more information go to


Illinois Firearm Deer Season Begins This Week Hunters reminded of deer check-in requirements, staying safe during firearm hunt Nov. 20-22 and Dec. 3-6 SPRINGFIELD, IL – Hunters in Illinois head to the field this week for the state’s most popular hunting season as the 2009 Illinois Firearm Deer Season opens this Friday through Sunday, Nov. 20-22. The seven-day firearm season will conclude on Dec. 3-6. Deer hunting is part of our outdoor heritage in Illinois, and we want to encourage all hunters heading to the field this week for the start of the firearm season to make safety their first priority, said Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) Director Marc Miller. Hunters always need to be conscious of firearm and tree stand safety to ensure a safe and enjoyable hunt. Hunters in Illinois harvested a preliminary total of 106,018 deer during the seven-day firearm deer hunting season in 2008. More than 360,000 permits have been issued to date for the 2009 firearm season. For information on remaining permits, check the IDNR web site at The legal hunting hours for the firearm deer season are one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset. Hunters successful in taking a deer during the firearm season in most counties must register (check in) the deer they harvest by going online at or by phoning 1-866-IL-CHECK (1-866-452-4325). Hunters using the online or phone-in system must register their harvest by 10 p.m. on the day they take the deer. It is recommended that hunters using cell phones to register their harvest wait until they are out of the field and have a clear cell phone signal before attempting to make the harvest report phone call. Firearm deer hunters in Boone, DeKalb, Grundy, Kane, LaSalle, McHenry, Ogle, Stephenson, and Winnebago counties are reminded to bring their deer to mandatory check stations. Biologists will be sampling adult deer for chronic wasting disease (CWD), to determine areas of infection and prevalence rates. The check station locations are listed below (Note: except for Winnebago County, they are in the same locations as last year): Boone: Boone Co. Fairgrounds, located one-half mile north of Rt. 76 and Business Rt. 20, Belvidere DeKalb: Shabbona Lake State Recreation Area, 4201 Shabbona Grove Rd., Shabbona Grundy: Gebhard Woods State Park; 401 Ottawa St., Morris Kane: Shabbona Lake State Recreation Area, 4201 Shabbona Grove Rd., Shabbona LaSalle: Buffalo Rock State Park, three miles west of Ottawa on Dee Bennett Rd. McHenry: Moraine Hills State Park, McHenry Dam day use area, east of McHenry on River Road, 2.2 miles south of Rt. 120 Ogle: Castle Rock State Park, Rt. 2, three miles south of Oregon Stephenson: Stephenson Co. Fairgrounds, one mile east of Rt. 26 and Fairgrounds Road, Freeport Winnebago (NEW LOCATION): Rock Cut State Park (hunters should utilize the Hwy 173 entrance and follow the signs) Hunters who participate in the CWD sampling can check the status of their deer through the IDNR web site at Hunters who provide samples from deer that test positive are notified by the IDNR. While not believed to be contagious to humans or livestock, chronic wasting disease is known to spread from animal to animal among deer and elk. The disease affects the brain of the infected animal, causing them to become emaciated, display abnormal behavior, lose coordination and eventually die. Illinois expanded its CWD surveillance effort in 2002 following the discovery of the disease in neighboring Wisconsin. For more information on Illinois deer hunting regulations changes for 2009-2010, check the IDNR web site at this link:


If you have an entry for Buck of the Week, e-mail the photo and story to The stories and photos run in the outdoors page of the Sun-Times on Wednesday, and the expanded online version is usually posted here on Tuesday.


No major cold fronts, crops in the fields, and things are slow. So slow that two trips I had planned so far have been canceled.

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


The drawdown at Heidecke should be stopped enough to allow hunters to continue to access the lake. William Powers had a slow weekend, two geese and four ducks on Saturday.

Duck season runs through Dec. 15. Canada goose season, through Jan. 9.


Of the 71 ducks taken at Braidwood last week, 32 were bagged Sunday. The Mazonia units reported 20 ducks for the week.

Canada goose season reopens Tuesday and runs through Jan. 31.

White-fronted goose season opens Saturday and runs through Jan. 31.

Duck season runs through Dec. 29.


Duck season runs through Jan. 12. Canada goose and white-fronted goose seasons reopen Nov. 29 and run through Jan. 31.


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


Runs through Nov. 30.


Season runs through Dec. 20


North zone ends Jan. 8. South zone ends Jan. 22.


Crops in the field continue to slow pheasant hunting in particular, but that could just help make for good hunting later in the season.

Hunting for cock pheasant, gray partridge and bobwhite quail ends Jan. 8 in the north zone, Jan. 15 in the south.


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.


Season runs through Feb. 28.


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


Hunting is closed during the two firearms deer seasons in those counties open to firearm deer hunting. Hunting ends in the north zone on Feb. 10; in the south, on Feb. 15.


Hunting ends on Jan. 31. Hunting is closed during the two firearms deer seasons in those counties open to firearm deer hunting.


Hunting is closed during the two firearms deer seasons in those counties open to firearm deer hunting. CORRECT/ADD: Except for those with unfilled deer pemits, for whom coyote hunting is allowed during deer hunting hours.


Trapping seasons are open across the state for all the usual furbearers: muskrat, mink, raccoon, opossum, striped skunk, weasel, coyote, badger, red and gray fox, and beaver.

Trapping for muskrat, mink, raccoon, opossum, striped skunk, weasel, red and gray fox, coyote and badger ends in the north zone on Jan. 20; in the south, on Jan. 25.

Trapping for beaver ends statewide on March 31.


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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