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Illinois Outdoors

Taking stock of critters

July 20, 2008 at 04:47 AM

As fall approaches, hunters become more curious about how the species they pursue fared in the past year.

While there are still surveys to run and data to collect for some critters, here’s an early look at what we know about a few popular species.


A hot topic at next Sunday’s Illinois River duck blind drawings will be the new rule allowing Central and North zone hunters to shoot five giant Canada geese during the September season.

While not everyone likes the liberal bag limit — particularly clubs that don’t hunt the early season — biologists say the statewide goose flock can handle the extra harvest.

Illinois’ breeding population of giant Canada geese this year is 138,300 — one of the highest totals on record and up 33,300 from last year. The overall Mississpi Flyway estimated count of 1.7 million giant Canada geese is up 5 percent from 2007 and is close to the all-time high of 1.73 million honkers in 2006.

Despite wet weather, banding results show production of goslings was average in west-central Illinois and very good around the Canton area. Gosling counts were down 20 percent in the northeast.

Less promising is the MVP flock that nests in Canada, where late spring and late snowstorms are sure to hamper production.Illinois Outdoors

For duck hunters a 60-day season is all but certain thanks to solid mallard counts (7.7 million) and an overall estimate of 37.3 million ducks. There are concerns, though.

Drought hit the northern prairie and production is sure to be down. And canvasbacks and bluebills both showed declines, meaning bag limits and season dates for those divers will be impacted.

The count of 6.6 million blue-winged teal means we’ll again have a 16-day season (Sept. 6-21 in Illinois). But don’t expect action like last year, when hunters in the U.S. shot a whopping 2.91 immature bluewings for every adult.

Dry conditions and loss of grasslands in the Dakotas, southern Manitoba and Saskatchewan has hurt nesting success for teal and for most ducks.

Upland game

Last winter was hard on pheasants according to biologist John Cole. Call counts were down markedly this spring, with declines of up to 30 percent in northern Illinois and 20 percent in central Illinois.

While wet weather is not ideal for pheasant nesting, Cole has some hope that rain this spring and summer could actually help pheasant nesting success in Illinois. That’s because wet ground has delayed mowing in many areas of the state that could provide much-needed nest cover.

“The fall population is 75 to 80 percent young of the year anyway, so really (pheasant numbers) are not so much dependent on the breeding populations as on how successful they are raising young,” Cole said.

Illinois Outdoors

Prospects are better for quail, whose numbers were up in west-central Illinois and were nearly double in Clark County and some other spots in eastern Illinois.

We’ll know more later this summer when biologists conduct brood counts.


Wet spring, dry spring, cold winter, it doesn’t seem to make much difference for the Illinois deer herd. Prairie State whitetails are blessed with plenty of food and enough areas to successfully raise fawns.Illinois Outdoors

But this year will be different in some low-lying locales along the Mississippi River where deer numbers could certainly drop. Outside the hard-hit flood areas, biologist Paul Shelton said there’s no reason to expect anything other than another good breeding season for whitetails.

Of more significance in recent years have been oubreaks of epizootic hemorrhagic disease. EHD or blue tongue typically shows up in the summer and usually takes its worse toll in drought years. So a benefit of this wet spring is that there should be enough watering holes to keep deer spread out when EHD typically hits hardest.

Wild turkeys

Significant rainfall in June is not ideal for turkey nesting, so expectations are that turkey production in Illinois will be down this year.

But Shelton said the rainy June we went through shouldn’t turn out to be a crisis for gobblers and hens.

“Wetness in and of itself is not necessarily the killer so long as your temperatures don’t get real cool along with it,” he said. “There’s going to be places where our reproductive success is probably low, but I don’t know how widespread I’d anticipate that being.

“We’re due for a good (turkey hatch) at some point and time, but I don’t anticipate this will be it.”

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

how were the fish numbers in the stream you trespassed in?  Did you see any flow over the dam you built?

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 07/20 at 03:33 PM

Can’t really say since we were not fishing. I’d guess most of the fish passed on the other side of the creek, the free-flowing side. Had we not been ran out so rudely, we would have torn down the dams. Thanks for asking. We did see a few minnows behind the dams.

Posted by Jeff Lampe on 07/20 at 09:42 PM

So if you came home to your house and someone was sitting in your living room watching your TV, you would politely ask them to leave?

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 07/21 at 08:01 AM

Polite? Not if it was you, obviously. But I don’t think entering a home is the same as wading in a creek that one has waded in for years without pondering the ramifications. Yes, we should have gained permission first. If we ever return, we will ask permission. Or we will simply join the motorcycle club for $50 and go wading.

Posted by Jeff Lampe on 07/21 at 08:11 AM

You don’t understand the similarities because you don’t own land, obviously.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 07/21 at 08:41 AM

Here we go again, the same crowd that crucifies hunters for acheiving a “grand slam” now can show their uglyness by not dropping an old and priviously discussed subject. The property owner addressed this issue to Jeff, so let it go. Get a life.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 07/21 at 09:46 AM

My own personal opinion, I don’t think ANY nonnavigatable creeks should be private.  Landowners might build ponds, but I don’t know any who ever built a creek.  And yes I am a landowner and often give kids who don’t have them cheap rods I pick up and fix from yard sales.  I would rather see kids fishing in my pond developing a love for the outdoors thaey will take with them for life than hanging out at the video store…or worse yet the mall!!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 07/21 at 11:54 AM

Jeff, we would gladly pay your entrance fee into the motorcycle club just so I don’t have to listen to this Mike whine about the 2 acres he owns, next to a 400 acre farm in which he sits on the property line to shoot deer that always end up on someone elses property. (My theory)  I am sure in his life he has never ventured into uncharted waters (trespassed), no pun intended. I am sure by now you have learned your lesson and you have discussed this in detail with your kids. (LESSON LEARNED)  Its too bad we have to deal with guys that think because they own land we should worship the ground they walk on.  You can bring the kids out to our place anytime.  We open it up to boy scouts all the time.  Its a great thing to do and the kids are so appreciative.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 07/21 at 10:49 PM

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