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Illinois Hunting Report: Pintails, deer & openers

A surprising number of pintails were reported over the weekend, that, as well as the update of archery deer season, lead this Illinois Hunting Report.

DEER: Forest wildlife program manager Paul Shelton sent this update on archery season so far:

Through Sunday, October 21, 2012, Illinois archery deer hunters harvested a preliminary total of 15,401 deer. Last year’s preliminary harvest for the same period was 15,185, and the five-year average for 2007-2011 was 15,617.

Harvest to date (for all weeks) consists of 67% does and 33% males (10327 F; 5074 M). As is typical, the proportion of males in the harvest has begun to increase as the season approaches November, and males made up almost 37% of the harvest this week. Top five counties were Pike (554), Fulton (446), Peoria (359), Jefferson (328), and Madison (303).

Over-the-counter sales of remaining county deer permits is underway. . . . Over-the-counter sales of remaining resident archery deer permits is ongoing.

EHD reports keep coming. Through Sept. 30, more than 2,000 are officially counted from 76 counties.

BUCK OF THE WEEK: I am receiving enough nominations that I started running Buck of the Week, I believe the earliest ever. Email nominations to

NORTH ZONE WATERFOWL: Seasons opened on Saturday. This weekend could be interesting with a cold front forecast to drop through Thursday night or Friday.

There were decent reports from opening weekend at public sites.

Staff at William Powers SRA reported: 57 hunters took 14 geese, three mallards and nine other ducks on opening day; then, on Sunday, 34 hunters took five geese, one mallard and three other ducks.

Char at Heidecke Lake reported that 53 hunters took 15 mallards, four gadwalls, one pintail, one green-winged teal, one shoveler and five coots on opening day; then, on Sunday, 21 hunters took eight mallards, one bluebill, eight gadwalls, four shovelers and three pintails.

CENTRAL ZONE WATERFOWL: Seasons open Saturday. This weekend could be interesting with a cold front forecast to drop through Thursday night or Friday.

Mark Meents at Mazonia/Braidwood SFWA reported a fair youth hunt at Braidwood with 13 ducks and at Mazonia with six. They were mostly wood ducks with a few wigeon and one pintails. I hope the kid appreciated the pintail.

AERIAL WATERFOWL SURVEYS: Click here to see the results of aerial waterfowl surveys.

WATERFOWL & BAITING CLARIFICATION: Here’s the word of clarification from the IDNR via the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, on baiting definitions and regulations in this drought year:

Dear Waterfowl Hunters:

Due to ongoing drought conditions in Illinois, some farmers are mowing or tilling their unharvested crop fields to collect crop insurance payments. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) reminds hunters that the manipulation, including mowing or tilling, of unharvested crop fields is not a normal agricultural practice for waterfowl hunting purposes. The IDNR has received guidance on this issue from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Federal baiting laws still apply, even during times of drought. Therefore, it is a violation of the baiting laws under the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act if scattered grain is not totally removed 10 days prior to hunting. Hunters should familiarize themselves with baiting laws in Illinois. For more information on waterfowl baiting regulations, refer to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service website link regarding baiting regulations at

Questions regarding hunting crop fields mowed or tilled due to drought insurance claims;

1. If a standing grain crop is 100% void of any ears (corn field produced no ears), can the field be mowed then hunted? Yes, as long as there is no grain present in the field. A field that produces NO ears of corn will probably be a rare occurrence.

2. If a standing grain crop has any amount of grain present after it is mowed, can it be hunted? No, it is a “baited area” until 10 days after the complete removal of the grain.

3. Can a standing crop that was mowed be disked and made legal for hunting? The field can only be hunted after all exposed grain has been completely removed or buried for a period of 10 days. Hunters should keep in mind that if a dry field is tilled to the extent that no grain is visibly present, strong winds or the first rain is likely to wash off some covered grain, thus still making it a baited situation.

4. Why can a person not hunt over a mowed area? Under federal baiting regulations, mowing or tilling of a standing crop is not a “normal agricultural planting, harvesting, post-harvest manipulation, or normal soil stabilization practice” as determined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Cooperative Extension Service.

. . .

For questions about federal baiting regulations, please call 217-782-6431, Monday-Friday 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

TURKEYS: Fall shotgun season ends Sunday.

Archery season is open.

Click here for details on the over-the-counter sales of remaining fall turkey permits.

DOVES: First season ends Sunday. Second season is Nov. 3-14

The daily bag is 15, with a special reminder to read the note below on what counts in the bag.

Note: In recent years, there has been some different doves, other than just mourning doves, being spotted in the field more commonly. Here are the regulations on the various doves and their hunting, from the Illinois Digest of Hunting and Trapping Regulations:

The daily bag and possession limits include mourning doves and white-winged doves in the aggregate. There is no bag limit on Eurasian-collared doves and ringed turtle doves, but they may be taken only during the established season dates and hours and using only legal methods for mourning doves. Hunters may not remain in the field for the purpose of taking Eurasian-collared doves or ringed turtle doves after they reach their daily bag limit for mourning/white-winged doves.

<SQUIRREL: Most public sites closed on Sept. 30 with the start of bowhunting for deer.

RAIL: Season runs through Nov. 16. I would love to hear from somebody who hunts rails.

big>WOODCOCK: Season runs through Dec. 3. Some are around.

SNIPE: Season runs through Dec. 23. Again, I would love to hear from somebody who hunts them.