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Terrain key to the Castle

September 21, 2008 at 01:00 AM

ROCKFORD REGISTER STAR

Hunt in limbo

The future of hunting at Lowden-Miller State Forest and Castle Rock State Park is uncertain after the Blagojevich administration announced plans to close 11 state parks as of Nov. 30. Castle Rock was among those cuts, and its staff had been supervising the hunts at both facilities.

The Department of Natural Resources had not decided if sportsmen who purchased permits for Castle Rock and Lowden-Miller would be allowed to hunt there this deer season.

 

Castle Rock State Park and neighboring Lowden-Miller State Forest are special to Mike Nelson of Dundee.

Nelson has hunted deer on the public land 12 miles north of Dixon for years and has enjoyed an impressive success rate.

“Last year was the first time I got skunked in nine years there,” he said. “I had the shot. I just missed.”

Nelson also hunts turkeys and squirrels at the park on the west bank of the Rock River in Ogle County.

“I just love that area,” he said. “And the park staff goes out of its way to help you.”

He’s not alone. Castle Rock and Lowden-Miller is one of the most popular public hunting destinations in northern Illinois.

Castle Rock has 1,600 acres for archery and firearm deer hunting, while Lowden-Miller has 2,200.

“It’s a large area. Most of it is undeveloped,” said Grant Afflerbaugh, Castle Rock State Park site superintendent. “It is a very rugged area with steep hills, ridges and ravines.”

About 80 percent of its hunters are from the Chicago suburbs, while the rest come from towns within 30 miles of the park, Afflerbaugh said.

“Based on the phone calls we receive from people wanting information, it seems like a lot of people are losing their hunting ground,” he said. “Farms are being sold. Other places are being bought up by large groups. So there seems to be an increase in the need for public hunting areas.”

Castle Rock is in the 10th year of a deer-reduction program and allows 50 firearm hunters at a time. They have been averaging 80 deer during shotgun, muzzleloader and late-winter/CWD seasons in recent years. Hunters must first kill an antlerless deer to qualify for an either-sex permit. Archery hunters can take either sex and have averaged 26 deer in the past three years.

“Part of Castle Rock is a nature preserve,” Afflerbaugh said. “Nine years ago, the biologist said we needed to remove some of the deer herd because it was too large and was damaging the vegetation.”

Lowden-Miller allows slightly more firearm hunters, and they can take either sex. They’ve averaged 70 deer the past three years. Archery hunters there have averaged 55 deer during that period.

Site specific permits are required for firearm seasons at Castle Rock and Lowden-Miller.

“It’s a good place to go,” Nelson said.

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

Too bad our idiot Governor has just closed both Castel Rock and Lowden Miller.  I hear the fine staff at these parks have been let go.  In fact 25 Illinois state parks and historic sites will be closing on 11/1/08 and 450 staff members let go.  I guess we will have to take even more of our recreation $$ to neighboring states.  Let’s see how that helps our state budget worries.  The Land of Lincoln is closing Lincoln’s Cabin.  I guess the Millennium Bean in more important to our culture. :-(

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/24 at 01:20 PM

Corrections to my last post, Lowden Miller in not on the list, but near by Lowden Park is.  Castel Rock is still closing.  Also, it is 11 State Parks in total that are closing. I would love to pass on the traditions of hunting to my 2 sons, just as I learned from my father… I had a site spesific tag for Castel Rock.  I give up. http://skinnymoose.com/adventurist/2008/09/05/illinois-forced-to-close-11-state-parks-and-25-historical-landmarks/

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/24 at 01:31 PM

Very true. Interesting how we can not afford to keep these parks open and staffed but we can afford to fly our idiot governor from chicago to springfield and back every day to work. Go figure.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 10/02 at 03:46 AM

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