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Illinois hunting and fishing

Uncertain waterfowl opener ahead

October 25, 2009 at 05:52 AM

Duck details

Estimated Illinois duck and Canada goose harvests.

Year Ducks Geese
2007—464,366   141,205
2006—507,464   122,294
2005—412,348   74,293
2004—369,658   81,859
2003—486,199   83,207
2002—349,843   89,297
2001—534,578   64,907
2000—497,341   128,387
1999—562,905   119,611
1998—386,862   43,222
1997—291,161   61,282
1996—284,525   65,864
1995—377,292   92,478
1994—246,944   67,690
1993—217,600   93,361
1992—216,427   59,352
1991—307,570   92,239
1990—197,185   67,127
1989—224,266   91,379
1988—185,728   72,550
1987—289,019   36,103
1986—379,580   45,535
1985—316,920   37,976
1984—355,103   23,147
1983—403,416   31,395
1982—327,134   29,574
1981—337,984   44,302


Nobody is sure what to expect this waterfowl season. Will there be enough food in the Illinois River bottoms to hold ducks? Will farmers be able to pick enough corn fields to provide food elsewhere? Will goose hunters even be able to get to their pits due to the late harvest? Will we be flooded or frozen out early? There’s so much uncertainty.

What we do know is duck numbers are good for our 13th consecutive 60-day duck season, which starts Saturday and runs through Dec. 29 in the Central Zone. The breeding population of 42 million ducks was fourth highest on record since 1955. And birds have already arrived, with an above-average total of 148,700 counted last week along the Illinois River.

This year the daily bag limit of six ducks includes four mallards (two hens), three wood ducks, two redheads, two scaup (entire season), one canvasback (entire season), one black duck and one pintail (entire season). Shooting hours are one-half hour before sunrise to sunset.

Canada goose numbers are not as encouraging in Canada, where nesting success was minimal. Local honkers fared much better. Longer seasons the last two years produced a record harvest in 2008 and a near-record in 2007. So opportunity will be there during an 85-day Central Zone season that runs Saturday to Nov. 15 and then Nov. 24 to Jan. 31.

One other certainty is that Glasford American Legion Post 35 will have a hearty hunter’s breakfast Saturday from 4-11 a.m. Stop by. Even if you don’t see birds, you can be certain to eat well on opening day.

Illinois hunting and fishing

Emiquon an oasis

Bass are not the only critters that love The Nature Conservancy’s Emiquon Preserve. In the latest aerial surveys of waterfowl, Emiquon’s 48,210 ducks was tops in the state (as was the count of 59,270 coots).

No wonder hunters like Caleb Kaufman of Washington (pictured above) are drawn to the site. Hunting at Emiquon will be allowed Saturdays, Tuesdays and
Thursdays. Drawings are at 5:15 a.m. at the small shed near the boat ramp, east of Illinois Route 97/78. Last year there were 11 stakes.

There is no charge to hunt, but persons under 18 must be accompanied by an adult. Also, hunters are limited to trolling motors only and may not have gas motors on their boats.

Fishing is not allowed during hunting hours. To learn more call (309) 547-2700 or 547-2730.

Illinois hunting and fishing

Hide in style

The economic slowdown impacted manufacturing across the country and Bradley Services Inc. of Morton was no exception. Rather than idle its welders and fabricators, the company decided building goose pits and duck blinds might be one way to keep busy.

So was born Bradley Blinds, whose custom-fabricated steel goose pits and duck blinds are completely waterproof and can be submerged in water or buried in dirt. Unlike wooden pits, Bradley Blinds can even be moved if you change hunting locations.

“We use only the highest-grade steel and all our welders are certified,” said Brad Belser, who has so far sold blinds in Illinois and South Dakota. “And we can custom-build blinds to your specifications.”

Learn more at or call (309) 231-1449.

Illinois hunting and fishing

Carving as recreation

Butch Louck needed a diversion in 2003 while coming off surgery. Since he enjoys duck hunting and working with wood and lives in the Illinois River Valley, it only made sense the Germantown Hills resident began carving decoys.

A self-taught carver, he obtained reference books off the Internet and has since completed a dozen decoys including a pair of full-bodied wood ducks. His goal is to carve all 52 species in the Mississippi Flyway.

While Louck has had more time since retiring from Caterpillar Co. in February, he is still meticulous. Louck estimates he has a minimum of 200 hours of work in each bird. He doesn’t sell birds, but one of his mallards will be auctioned off March 6 at a Waterfowl USA banquet in Davenport, Iowa.

Even with all that effort, he says “You just cannot duplicate Mother Nature no matter how hard you try. My eyes have really opened up since I started carving birds.”

Waterfowlers speak

Here are comments from Peoria-area waterfowlers heading into start of the Central Zone season.

Gary Deweese, Hopedale

Illinois hunting and fishing
Years waterfowling: 4
Hunting spot: Tazewell County goose pit
Quotable: “I’m taking my 16-year-old daughter (Hailey) on the youth hunt. Then hopefully we’ll do pretty good on geese. A lot of guys aren’t going to be able to hunt early because fields aren’t picked. But we’re in with a seed-corn distributor, the field is picked and I’ve been seeing lots of geese.”

Butch Louck, Germantown Hills

Illinois hunting and fishing
Years waterfowling: 50
Hunting spot: Princeton (Iowa) Wildlife Area
Quotable: “I grew up in Iowa and about five years ago I started going back with my son Buddy. In order to get a good spot you need to get there early and you can be on the water at midnight. So we sleep in (our boat blind) a lot. The season started last weekend and we shot 16 birds.”

Rick Miller, Brimfield

Illinois hunting and fishing
Years waterfowling: 14
Hunting spot: Blind 29 at Rice Lake
Quotable: “I think it’s going to be an average year. There’s not much food (in hunting areas) and the farmers are late picking. They’ll still be in the field at Thanksgiving and I think it’s going to freeze up early. So where I’m at I want to get out there are much as I can early in the season.”

Les ‘Sonny’ Taylor, Bartonville

Illinois hunting and fishing
Years waterfowling: 63
Hunting spot: “Wherever I can beg, borrow, steal or poach.”
Quotable: “The 1950s were my best years and the best of all was 1955 on Quiver Creek. Chautauqua and Duck Island had a million ducks between them and when it got cold, Quiver Creek got hot. Those birds traded back and forth and we had some great shoots.”

Your CommentsComments :: Terms :: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

You mentioned WATERFOWL USA so here’s my experience: Last February I subscribed to their magazine.  To date I have ONLY recieved the SPRING/SUMMER 2008 issue.  Attempts to contact to cancel my subscription has surprizingly gone unanswered. let your readers beware!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 10/26 at 08:39 AM

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