Illinois Hunting Report: Opening days

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Click here for the a preview of surprisingly good sunflowers and hopes for a good dove opener on Saturday to lead the first Illinois Hunting Report of the fall.

In years past, I have done the IHR on Tuesdays, but I may switch it up and be more variable this year.

Opening day for both dove hunting and early Canada goose season is Saturday.

I think the most important thing in all this will be where the remnants of Hurricane Isaac tracks. Some areas of Illinois appear headed for major rains and flooding.

DOVES: Despite the drought, sunflowers appear decent in most spots and there are doves. Whether they hang around and fly if the remnants of Isaac hit could be interesting. Or maybe that should be in the hunters hang around.

I did a check with site staff around northeast Illinois and here is how I would rank potential.

Matthiessen SP: Good sunflowers, mowed twice; “ample” doves. 100 permit stakes, some standby.

Iroquois County SWA: Good mowed sunflowers. Good doves. Drawing for 50-55 stakes, 11 a.m.

Des Plaines SFWA: Good mowed sunflowers. 100 permits stakes, some standby.

Shabbona Lake SRA: “Absolutely beautiful” sunflowers. Draw for 60 slots, 11 a.m.

Silver Springs SFWA: Sunflowers good, bit weedy, mowed. About 115 permit stakes, some standby.

Kankakee River SP: No weevil this year, sunflowers are better. More than 20 permit spots, some standby.

Chain O’Lakes SP: One side of wheat looks good, east side is “sparse.”

Mazonia SFWA: North Unit only. Sign in at office

Marseilles SWA: No sunflowers, no stakes, no draw. Hours Sept. 1-5 will be noon-5 p.m.

The daily bag is 15.

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.

TEAL: Season is Sept. 8-23. I heard second-hand reports of some being seen flying down Lake Michigan. Otherwise, I am not sure what the impact of the general lack of water will be.

EARLY CANADA GOOSE: The interesting thing might be the corn harvest: 6 percent statewide on Sunday (I am sure it is higher by now), which compares to only 1 percent for the five-year average.

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.

UPLAND GAME: Applications for free upland game permits run through Friday. My application is in and I am hoping. In my world, this is the coolest hunting program in Illinois. Luck of the draw is about one in three. I usually make a deal with several friends. If one of us gets lucky, the others get first invites to come along. Click here.

DEER NOTES: Running through Sept. 10, permit applications are accepted for random daily drawings for 2012 Illinois firearm and muzzleloader deer permits, Click here. . . . EHD reports are starting to mount across the state.

SQUIRREL: In northeast Illinois, Iroquois County SWA is the one spot that opened Aug. 1 for squirrel. More of the public sites open next week after the frist five days of dove hunting. Haven’t heard much, though there are plenty of nuts on the ground.

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