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Illinois Hunting Report: Bucks, bunnies & bunnies

The opening of upland game seasons, still one of the great social events in Illinois outdoors, on Saturday and bucks in rut lead this Illinois Hunting Report.

On the crop harvest side, there is good news for both deer hunters and upland game hunters.

Crop harvest is moving along well ahead of the five-year averages with corn 89 percent harvested statewide by Sunday, and soybeans at 94.

It won’t be quite as complete as last year when crop harvest was virtually complete by the opening of upland game seasons, but it will be close.

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.


Hunting seasons for rabbits, cock pheasants, bobwhite quail and gray partridge open on Saturday. Bags are same as what they have been.

Weather looks relatively normal fall, though maybe “a smidge warm,” as ag and grassland wildlife program manager Mike Wefer put it.

I am looking forward to sharing a good hunt with the group associated around the Pioneer chapter of Pheasants Forever in Iroquois/Ford Counties.

Click here for the annual prospects put out by the IDNR. Generally, the report looks about average, except for quail, which the winter appeared to hurt more than the other species. In fact, Wefer is suggesting that hunter’s use personal restraint on the bag for quail late in the season.


We are near the heart of the rut. I suspect this will be the big weekend. Big bucks are moving.

Again, the increased percentage of bucks in the reported harvest by bowhunters is but one indication. Forest wildlife program manager Paul Shelton sent this:

Through Sunday, October 30, Illinois archery deer hunters harvested a preliminary total of 23,585 deer, compared to 22,873 during the same period last year. Composition of the harvest by gender has been 64% female/36% male to date, but during Saturday-Sunday of the last weekend was 51% female/49% male. This shift in harvest sex ratios will continue as rutting activity increases. Top five counties to date are Pike (1034), Fulton (656), Jefferson (546), Peoria (490), and Vermilion (490).

Over the counter sales of remaining firearm permits for deer is underway. . . . Click here for information on the resident late winter antlerless deer hunting, including information for the special hunt areas, for which applications may begin today.

I started running Buck of the Week, the celebration of big bucks bagged by hunters, early this year. The photos and stories are coming in, and there have been some good ones.

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


Duck season in the north runs through Dec. 13. Canada goose season runs through Jan. 7.

At the two main public sites with daily reports, action was fair. At Heidecke Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area near Morris, site staff said Sunday was the best day with 21 hunters taking 18 ducks, 14 of them mallards. . . . At William W. Powers State Recreation Area on Chicago’s Southeast Side, site staff reported only four ducks on both Saturday and Sunday.


Duck season runs through Dec. 20. The first Canada goose season runs through Sunday, then the second season is Nov. 24-Jan. 31. . . . Saturday was the best day at Mazonia/Braidwood SFWA with 33 hunters bagging 28 ducks and a goose; while eight blinds reported eight ducks at Mazonia. . . . I happened to talk with Jeff Lampe of Heartland Outdoors earlier this week and the hunting sounds in the Peoria area. REMINDER: Hunting for white-fronted geese does not open until Nov. 19.


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,


We are in a bit of lull, across the state.. . . Phone-in period for duck and goose sites runs through Jan. 27, 2012. . . . Youth waterfowl season in the new south central zone is this weekend. . . . Duck season in the south central is Nov. 12-Jan. 10. goose season is split, first Nov. 12-27, then Dec. 13-Jan. 31. . . . Duck season in 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.


Second season is Saturday through Nov. 13. Ken Gortowski reported lots of doves in the harvested fields near Yorkville. I am seeing fair numbers around the south suburbs. Might be an added bonus for upland hunters.


Trapping seasons open in the north zone on Saturday for raccoon, opossum, skunk, weasel, mink, fox (red and gray), coyote, badger.


Hunting season opens Saturday in the north zone.


I have not seen the preliminary count for the fall firearm season yet. . . . Archery season is ongoing. . . Applications for spring permits is underway.


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


Season runs through Nov. 28.


Season runs through Dec. 18.


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


Season runs through 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.