Illinois Hunting Report: Lining up north zone waterfowl

SHARE Illinois Hunting Report: Lining up north zone waterfowl

Remember the zone line changes for duck and geese

in northeast Illinois when prepping for the north zone openers for waterfowl on Saturday, which leads this Illinois Hunting Report.

The photo is Mike Resetich, a few years ago down on the Illinois river, coming back with some duks. I just like the photo.

The best news may come from the Illinois Crop Progress and Condition Report, what with that perfect weather for more than a week, both soybean and corn fields were being picked at an incredible rate. Corn harvest is now 49 percent complete, statewide, and even up to 32 percent in the northeast. Soybeans are all the way to 50 percent harvested statewide.

During the hunting seasons, the extended online version of the IHR, which appears most weeks during the hunting season in the outdoors page of the Sun-Times on Wednesdays, is usually posted here on Tuesdays.

If you have suggestions, e-mail me at or post in the comments.


Click here for the link to the map of change in the north and central zone lines in northeast Illinois (Grundy, Cook and Will counties) for duck and goose seasons.

Basically, the north zone goose line in northeast Illinois reverts to I-80, while the north zone duck zone remains the same, dropping south from I-80 on Route 47, then going east on Pine Bluff and roughly following that line on other roads to the Illinois/Indiana line.

Here is the complete description from the IDNR waterfowl regs for the north zone duck line in that area, from the Indiana line going west:

That portion of the state north of a line extending west from the Indiana border along Peotone-Beecher Road to Illinois Route 50, south along Illinois Route 50 to Wilmington-Peotone Road, west along Wilmington-Peotone Road to Illinois Route 53, north along Illinois Route 53 to New River Road, northwest along New River Road to Interstate Highway 55, south along I-55 to Pine Bluff-Lorenzo Road, west along Pine Bluff-Lorenzo Road to Illinois Route 47, north along Illinois Route 47 to I-80,


Duck season in the north begins Saturday and runs through Dec. 13. Canada goose season begins Saturday and runs through Jan. 7. REMINDER: In the north zone, white-fronted geese do not open until Oct. 26.

Here are some looks at conditions.

In the northern and northwest suburbs, Ultimate Waterfowlers, now under a new owner with D.J. Knott, has some new fields. Guide Mike Richied e-mailed,

I have been seeing more and more geese everyday despite the summer-like weather.

Meanwhile, out toward North Aurora/Batavia in Kane County, guide Jeff Norrise of Fox Valley Guide Service, e-mailed,

There are a ton of birds back from the molt migration and they are starting to hit the bean fields as they are cleared. We should be in pretty good shape for the opener as long as the weather holds and let’s Farmer Jim work his magic.

I hope to be out with Jeff on opening morning.

State waterfowl biologist Ray Marshalla sent Monday’s aerial surveys, which showed 27,325 on the upper Illinois River valley, but only 1,180 ducks on the upper Mississippi.


Not surprisingly, the hot weather slowed harvest. Forest wildlife program manager Paul Shelton sent this:

Archery: Through October 9, archery deer hunters in Illinois harvested 8872 deer, compared to 8936 last year during that same period. After a very fast start to the season, a series of 85 degree days seems to have put a damper on hunter participation and success, so last weekend was a little on the slow side. Harvest sex ratios to date have been 71% female to 29% male. Top five counties are Pike (334), Fulton (233), Vermilion (232), Jefferson (224), and Peoria (188). Youth: Youth deer hunters harvested a preliminary total of 1851 during the October 8-9, 2011 Youth Season. This compares to the preliminary total of 1534 deer taken during last year’s season. Harvest sex ratios were 48% female to 52% male. Top five counties were Pike (103), Jefferson (53), Randolph (53), Adams (51), and Fulton (48). The record harvest for this season occurred during 2009, when 2409 deer were taken.

I suspect the cooler weekend will lead to a stronger harvest again.

I started running Buck of the Week early this year, but will miss this week because of space. I usually don’t run BOTW, the celebration of big bucks bagged by hunters, until about the time of the rut, but I am trying it from the opening of bow season this year.

BOTW runs Wednesdays around the hunting seasons and BOTW: Unplugged, the weekly celebration of live big bucks around Chicago outdoors, on Sundays much of the year on the outdoors page in the Sun-Times. E-mail nominations for either one to


Central zone youth season is Saturday and Sunday. Open public sites in the central zone include (fed and state):

Anderson Lake SFWA, Banner Marsh SFWA, Batchtown, Braidwood Lake SFWA, Calhoun Point, Clinton Lake SRA, Coffeen Lake SFWA, Freeman Mine, Fuller Lake, Glades-12 Mile Island, Godar Diamond/Hurricane Island, Horseshoe Lake State Park (Madison County), Horseshoe Lake SP (Chouteau Island Unit), Kankakee River State Park, Marshall SFWA, Marshall SFWA – Sparland Unit, Marshall SFWA – Duck Ranch Unit, Mazonia SFWA, Meredosia Lake, Mississippi River Pools (All located in Central Zone), Momence Wetlands SNA, Pekin Lake SFWA, Piasa Island, Quincy Bay, Ray Norbut SFWA, Reds Landing, Rip Rap Landing, Rice Lake SFWA, Sanganois SFWA, Sangchris Lake State Park, Shelbyville SFWA, Spring Lake SFWA, Starved Rock State Park, Stump Lake, Weinberg-King State Park – Spunky Bottoms Unit, Woodford SFWA


Season opens Saturday and runs through Nov. 28.


Phone-in period for duck and goose sites runs through Jan. 27, 2012. . . . Duck hunting in the central opens Oct. 22 and runs through Dec. 20. Once again goose Canada goose season is split in the central, opening first on Oct. 22 and running through Nov. 6. Then the second season is Nov. 24-Jan. 31. . . . Duck season in the new south central zone is Nov. 12-Jan. 10. goose season is split, first Nov. 12-27, then Dec. 13-Jan. 31. . . . The south zone is Nov. 24 to Jan. 22. As usual, the south zone Canada goose season is split: Nov. 24-27 and Dec. 1-Jan. 31.


Archery season is ongoing. . . . Firearm season is Oct. 22-30.


First season runs through Oct 31. . . . Second season is Nov. 5-13.


Most public sites are closed due to bowhunting for deer. Public lands remain open through Feb. 15.


Virginia and Sora only. Season runs through Nov. 11.


Season runs through Dec. 18.


Season is Oct. 28-Feb. 28, 2012.


For IDNR hunting info, click here.

For the Illinois 2011-12 Digest of Hunting & Trapping Regulations, click here.

For the 2010-11 Illinois Public Hunting Areas Report, click here.

The 2011-12 edition of the Digest of Waterfowl Hunting Regulation is now online, click here.

For Illinois crop reports (generally posted Monday afternoons, holiday weekends are the exceptions), click here. After holidays, such as Labor Day, it comes out on Tuesday.

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