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Illinois hunting and fishing

Chasing geese in central Illinois

December 20, 2009 at 05:08 AM

Goose hunting options

If you don’t have access to private land for goose hunting, there are still opportunities to bag a honker. Two nearby public areas offering goose hunting. Snakeden Hollow is open to hunters Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. There is a daily drawing for 15 pits, with permit-holders getting first choice. Reserve permits by calling (217) 782-7305. The cost to hunt is $15. Double T near Canton has six stakes that are hunted Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. Stakes are allocated in a drawing held two hours before shooting time at Rice Lake SFWA. A few private clubs also offer day shoots. Tampico Creek Gun Club books day hunts around the Duck Creek cooling lake. Call Kevin Grigsby at (309) 668-3150. Cabin Fever near Victoria also has day shoots. Call Rick McFail at (309) 781-8312.

Cell phones may ruin my reputation as a parent.

There I was last Saturday, fairly content to be taking care of the three boys while my wife shopped. Then that darned phone buzzed.

“Dude, there are thousands of geese south of Elmwood. You better get out there.”

Three more calls came in rapid fire after that, each promising a sky filled with honking targets. Seemingly overnight snow and cold had pushed large flocks of geese into central Illinois and sent me into a panic.

The resulting call to my wife didn’t go real well. If memory serves it ended with her saying, “No, you can’t leave the baby in the truck while you goose hunt. I’m sure you’ll do the right thing.”

Why she was so sure about me doing the right thing is curious. And in fairness, the baby is not really a baby. But little Boo Boo won’t turn 2 until sometime in
January and probably can’t handle a few hours in a layout blind like his older siblings.

Hmmm. The cell phone buzzed again. Panic mounted.

Thank goodness for responsible babysitters like Allie Johnson. Five minutes after my frantic call she was at the door.

Unfortunately, by the time I arrived the birds — thousands of them — were eating contentedly in a picked corn field. I missed the madness by an hour. In goose hunting, that’s often the difference between a hot gun barrel and a day of staring at the sky.

Illinois hunting and fishing

Chasing Canada geese is trophy hunting, plain and simple. Sure there are times you stack them up. But you’ll also spend plenty of goose-less days standing in a hole that smells like mouse urine or laying in a corn field that is either muddy or icy.

This year has offered plenty of the latter for Illinois waterfowlers. Honker hunters have been plagued by standing crops around their pits, by standing water in their pits and by a lack of working geese.

That changed for the better in the past week. Snow and cold up north pushed birds south — including fresh migrants that arrived Tuesday. Those birds are likely not reflected in Tuesday morning’s aerial count that showed 24,245 Canada geese in west-central Illinois, well above the average of 16,455.

The latest Elmwood survey showed just 1,050 birds, which might be accurate now that even the deeper strip-mine lakes are freezing. As more lakes lock up, geese flock to the warm waters of the Duck Creek cooling lake near Canton.

Not all birds go to Canton, though. If there’s open water, they find it. Powerton Lake holds birds. So do creeks, rivers and any ponds or lakes that have aerators.

That’s a reflection of just how well adapted geese are to living through the winter. These days it takes deep snow and bitter cold to push birds south. That’s why a mass migration like last weekend is so noteworthy — at least in the eyes of a hunter, if not those of a wife.

Then again, just because there are lots of birds around doesn’t mean they will cooperate. Huge flocks are generally harder to trick than are small groups of birds.

At least that’s my excuse for spending parts of three days without firing a shot. That goes against my rule of thumb: hunt three times and you will have a chance to kill a goose. Instead I had to be content to watch and listen to thousands of birds.

Maybe things will average out in the next few outings.

Because the beauty (or is it the curse?) of the Central Zone goose season is that we have until Jan. 31 to spend our days sniffing mouse perfume and waiting for that glorious moment when a flock of Canadians pitches in feet first, wings flapping hard as they maple leaf out of the sky.

Guess I’d better enter those babysitter numbers in my cell phone.

Illinois hunting and fishing

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

I Have two questions. Does anyone know how many persons can shoot geese from a blind ? The onther is can one person have two guns two shoot in a blind such as on to shoot kripples ?

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/24 at 01:23 PM

5 man limit in a blind and only 1 gun per hunter in blind.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/25 at 06:04 AM

thank you FultonCtyHunter.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/25 at 10:31 AM

as for i know there is no limit on people in a blind well i know of people haveing pits bigger and filling it and its not illegal and also i think you can have a “backup gun” but has to remain cased dnt know for sure jst from experience with backup guns and i know that 6,8,12 man pits arnt uncommon and blinds on the miss. that shoot 9 nine so maybe you should jst check the book or make a phone call

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