The rut is on as firearm deer hunting season opened Friday. Chris Young/The State Journal-Register.
Deer hunters move into fields as season opens
The State Journal-Register
CHANDLERVILLE — With 230 firearm hunters at the Jim Edgar Panther Creek State Fish and Wildlife Area this weekend, it might be surprising to learn the safest place for a deer is the site campground.
“You drive around the campground in the middle of the night and it will be full of deer, because they know they are OK in there,” said site superintendent Michael Wickens.
“When the hunters come back (at night), the deer are right there.”
The traditional firearm deer hunting season opened statewide Friday, and orange-clad hunters were everywhere at Jim Edgar Panther Creek.
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources has issued more than 330,000 firearm deer-hunting permits this year, and firearm hunters are expected to take about 100,000 deer during the seven-day season. The first segment runs through Sunday. The second season is Nov. 29 to Dec. 2.
At 26 square miles, Jim Edgar Panther Creek draws hunters from all over Illinois.
“For public land to have this much acreage, it is unheard of,” said Doug Hudik of Oak Forest.
Hudik was waiting for his father, Jim, to come out of the woods for a mid-morning break.
The elder Hudik didn’t get a shot, but was still excited as he told of bucks and does facing off across the field from his shooting position.
“I saw this big doe working up and down, and all of a sudden she goes and another doe shows up, and then the big boy shows up,” Jim said. “He was 12 to 14 points.”
Another doe came along with an eight-point buck trailing.
When the eight-pointer tried to get friendly with the big buck’s doe, the advance was not welcome.
“That big guy puts his head down, and, vroom, he took off,” Jim said. “It was funny.”
An earlier start to the firearm season this year put hunters squarely in the middle of the rut, the peak of deer breeding season.
Dan Wiktorzak of Westchester was one of the successful hunters. Wiktorzak stopped to catch his breath after bringing a doe out of the woods strapped to a cart.
“There were a lot of shots in the morning,” he said.
He was planning to spend the rest of the weekend trying to shoot a buck.
“They’re still here,” Wickens said. “We saw one yesterday and this morning in the park, and he was a monster.”
Back at the campground, Andy Simmons and Doug Parisotto were taking a mid-day break.
Simmons said they spend as much time deer hunting as work will allow.
“The more time, the better,” Simmons said. “The season is probably three months long (including archery season), and hopefully (we get to hunt) a month or more.”
Parisotto said he enjoys watching deer while hunting.
“Harvesting one and putting meat in the freezer is just icing on the cake,” he said.
Chris Young can be reached at (217) 788-1528.