Illinois Hunting Report: Rut builds and upland game opens

SHARE Illinois Hunting Report: Rut builds and upland game opens

Bowhunting for deer, as expected with the rut building,

is spiking and leads this Illinois Hunting Report.

DEER: Good nominations for Buck of the Week are coming in. And I am sure more will be coming.

I think “Musky Ed” Potocki pretty much nailed the past week when he emailed:

Great couple days in woods archery hunting thur-sat.Isaw a giant buck chasing and ran past my stand in Bureau co. The next day, he came by the same direction, but winded me and was gone. I thought to myself, too bad we cant catch and release in hunting. Just to witness that buck twice, made my season! Happy Thanksgiving. Musky Ed

Forest wildlife program manager Paul Shelton put some numbers to the rut with this update on archery season so far. Take note of how much the percentage of bucks jumped last week. It’s time.

Here’s the update:

Hunting conditions remained excellent during the past week, with cool weather and light winds throughout the period. Small amounts of rain fell during the early morning hours on Saturday in parts of the state, but harvest remained strong. Harvest was up significantly this week, and the proportion of males in the harvest continued to climb. Through Sunday, November 4, 2012, Illinois archery deer hunters harvested a preliminary total of 30,956 deer. Last year’s preliminary harvest for the same period was 28,198, and the five-year average for 2007-2011 was 29,381. Harvest to date (for all weeks) consists of 56% does and 44% males (17475 F; 13481 M). Males comprised about 59% of the past week’s harvest. Top five counties to date are Pike (1309), Fulton (998), Jefferson (685), Peoria (671), and Adams (656).

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

BUCK OF THE WEEK: Email nominations to Some good ones are coming in.

UPLAND GAME: Hunting for pheasants, rabbits, quail and partridge opened Saturday with open fields almost everywhere, but there was some rain across the prime area in central Illinois.

Faithful readers sent reports that were all over the map. John Saban said his group hadn’t seen wild birds like that in over 20 years. While father-and-son Otis and Kyle Kirchhoefer, with whom I often hunt the opener, reported only one chance for the weekend. I did not get out. I had hoped to kick out rabbits Saturday afternoon.

Click here for an overall preview, considering the Drought of 2012. Daily bags and regs are same as they have been for years.

NORTH ZONE WATERFOWL: White-fronted geese hunting opened on Monday.

It was a slow weekend for waterfowlers at public sites.

Char at Heidecke Lake reported that on Saturday 28 hunters shot eight mallards, one green-winged teal, two other ducks, two gadwalls and three shovelers; while on Sunday, 16 hunters bagged five mallards, two canvasbacks, one green-winged teal, one shoveler, one gadwall and two Canada geese.

Staff at William Powers SRA reported a very slow weekend: Saturday (15 hunters, one goose); Sunday (26 hunters one duck).

CENTRAL ZONE WATERFOWL: Remember the first Canada goose season ends Monday. Hunting for white-fronted geese opens Nov. 19.

If I reach Mark Meents, site super, or other staff at Mazonia/Braidwood SFWA, I will add their weekend results. But I expect it was on the slow side.

SOUTH CENTRAL WATERFOWL: Waterfowl seasons open Saturday. Hunting for white-fronted geese opens Nov. 19.

SOUTH YOUTH WATERFOWL: The youth hunt is this weekend. Open public sites include Cache River SNA, Cape Bend SFWA, Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge, Cypress Pond SNA, Deer Pond SNA, Devil’s Island Wildlife Management Area, Dog Island Wildlife Management Area, Horseshoe Lake SFWA (Alexander County), Mermet Lake SFWA, Mississippi River, Peabody River King SFWA, Saline County SFWA, Sielbeck Forest SNA and Union County SFWA.

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.

TRAPPING NORTH ZONE: Trapping for raccoon, opossum, skunk, weasel, mink, fox (red and gray), coyote and opened in the north zone on Monday and runs through Jan. 20. . . . Beaver trapping also opened Monday in the north and runs through March 31. . . . River otter trapping, first since 1929, follows the same dates as trapping for beaver in the north.

TRAPPING SOUTH ZONE: Trapping for raccoon, opossum, skunk, weasel, mink, fox (red and gray), coyote and opens Saturday in the south zone and runs through Jan. 25. . . . Beaver trapping also opens Saturday in the south and runs through March 31. . . . River otter trapping follows the same dates as trapping for beaver in the south.

CROWS: Season runs through Feb. 28.

TURKEYS: Fall shotgun season ended, but the preliminary harvest is not out yet.

Archery season is open.

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

DOVES: Second runs through Nov. 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. But virtually all foliage has dropped.

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

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.

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