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Illinois Hunting Report: Waiting on deer

Some ducks pushed through and the weather shift may bring more, but the main story for the Illinois Hunting Report is waiting on second firearm deer season to open Thursday.

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.


Second firearm season is Thursday through Sunday.

Despite winds the first two days of first firearm season, harvest figures were about where forest wildlife program manager Paul Shelton wanted them to be.

Weather looks fall-like across most of the state and some may even see a bit of snow cover. Though I would not hold my breath on that snow cover, the weather forecast seems to change three or four times a day.

Heard of several really good-sized racks from taxidermists after the first season. We will see if they hold up when officially scored.

I am beginning worry a bit about the impact of the focus on those good-sized racks. Illinois CPOs just made their third major bust of the fall around the taking of trophy bucks. That’s one of the more distressing side of trophy hunting.

I am excited to get back out, even though second season is freezer season for me. First season I wait on the big buck. Only saw a small buck first season. Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of hope for one of the two big bucks–a 12 and an eight–rumored to be running around my area. On the good side, I also haven’t heard of anybody shooting either one.

All I know is I am ready.

For hunters in northeast Illinois without a permit, there is plenty of standby chances at Heidecke Lake (also includes Morris Wetlands and Goose Lake Prairie). Best first season there was a 15-point. For standby, be there by about 4:30 a.m. Draw is about 5 a.m.

Here are the key reminders for firearm season from the official word from the IDNR:

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 the deer they harvest online through the IDNR website 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 cellular 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, JoDaviess, Kane, LaSalle, McHenry, Ogle, Stephenson, and Winnebago counties are reminded to bring their deer to mandatory check stations by 8 p.m. on the day they harvest a deer. 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: the check station locations are the same as last year, except for the addition of the JoDaviess County check station at Elizabeth):

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

JoDaviess: Elizabeth Community Center, 111 E. Myrtle St., Elizabeth; mile west of business district on Hwy 20, next to Highland Community College, Elizabeth campus.

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: 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 (listed by phone number) 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 infected animals, 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, check the IDNR web site at this link:

Hunting Safety Facts:

Illinois law requires that anyone born on or after January 1, 1980, must successfully complete a hunter safety course before a regular Illinois hunting license is issued

The number one cause of hunting accidents in Illinois is falling from a tree stand

Last year in Illinois, there were 22 reported hunting accidents, 11 involving tree stands (two fatalities)

When using a tree stand, remember the following:

Check ladder stands before climbing to make sure they are secure.

Wear a Fall Arrest System/Full Body Safety Harness when leaving the ground until returning to the ground from the tree stand

Use a haul line to raise and lower your equipment and unloaded firearm or bow into a tree stand

When hunting with a firearm, sportsmen should remember three primary rules of firearm safety:

Know your target and what is beyond your target

Point the muzzle in a safe direction

Treat every firearm as if it were loaded


I haven’t seen the archery update with the focus on firearm seasons. When it comes, I will post separately.

Click here for information on the resident late winter antlerless deer hunting, including information for the special hunt areas. Late-Winter Firearm Antlerless-only Deer county permits will be available over the counter (OTC) through DNR Direct license and permit vendors beginning on Tues., Dec. 13. County permits for the CWD Deer Season will also be available OTC beginning on Dec. 13. The dates for the seven-day Late-Winter and CWD deer seasons are Dec. 29, 2011-Jan. 1, 2012 and Jan. 13-15, 2012.

Over the counter sales of remaining firearm permits for deer is underway through Dec. 11.

Good photos coming in for Buck of the Week, the celebration of big bucks bagged by hunters.

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 or slow. At Heidecke Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area near Morris, site staff reported a good mixed bag on Sunday, but not many ducks. . . . At William W. Powers State Recreation Area on Chicago’s Southeast Side, site staff reported that eight blinds on Sunday shot a goose, two mallards and seven other ducks.

I suspect hunting will improve this week with the weather change and the freeze coming up north.


Duck season runs through Dec. 20. The second Canada goose season runs through Jan. 31. Site staff reported a fair week at Braidwood with about 40 ducks per day. I suspect some of that is going to change for the better this week with the freeze coming up north.


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 Wilmigton-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 runs through Jan. 10. Second goose season is Dec. 13-Jan. 31.


Duck season runs through Jan. 22. Second goose season opens Thursday and runs through Sunday, then Dec. 1-Jan. 31.


Phone-in period for duck and goose sites runs through Jan. 27, 2012.


Hunting seasons for rabbits, cock pheasants, bobwhite quail and gray partridge is open. Most interest is on deer hunting. Click here for the annual prospects put out by the IDNR.


Archery season is ongoing. . . First application period for spring permits runs through Thursday. Click here.


Remember, squirrel hunting is closed in those counties open to firearm hunting, during both firearm seasons. Most public sites are closed due to bowhunting for deer. Public lands remain open through Feb. 15.


Season runs through Dec. 18.


Hunting for foxes (red and gray) runs through Jan. 31, except it is closed during the two firearm deer seasons.


Trapping seasons is open statewide for raccoon, opossum, skunk, weasel, mink, fox (red and gray), coyote and badger.


Hunting season runs through Feb. 10 in the north. In the south, the season runs 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.