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    Little side note/rant: Last week in advance of going out to hunt a new public land location in Illinois, I called the office of the park and had to leave a message to have them call back. It was on Wednesday morning and I didn't get a call back by Thanksgiving, but I wasn't going out until Saturday and I figured I could try again on Friday. I wanted to ask about specifics in the check in/sign in process and I was hoping to gather a little intelligence about turkey movement if possible. I had spent a lot of time reading the available rules and regulations available on the state's Web site. But I always like to talk to someone on site in advance.

    Anyway, I called again on Friday and had to leave a message. I did not receive a call back, and I was nervous about going out without a full understanding of the check in process, but I had also hung my weekend plans on this hunt so I went out anyway. It turned out that there was no need to sign in anywhere and the hunt went fine enough as I shared above. And I was feeling pretty good about trying to go back out there in mid December.

    Cut to Tuesday morning. On my drive in to work I get a call from someone in the park office and so I ask him about the turkey hunting and he says, "Oh we don't offer fall turkey hunting in the park." This flabbergasted me. I am a very careful and cautious person and like I said I spent a lot of time reading the available literature posted on the state's public land hunting site. It clearly states that they offer turkey hunting there in the fall. So I told him that. And he said that it must be a mistake. I told him he should probably do what he could to correct that mistake, because they have an open invitation for people like me to go out there and hunt turkey and what happens if a conservation police officer stops someone who believes they have hunted legally... I also asked about another state property in the same area that is administrated by the same office and has fall archery turkey hunting listed. "Nope," he said. "Not allowed there either."

    We had a decent talk, both cordial, and he promised to note this discrepancy all the way up the line, but the State of Illinois being what it is and the DNR being so poorly staffed and organized he didn't promise much.

    Well, I couldn't let it lie, so I spent a little bit of time on the internet and sure enough the public hunting listing that shows the site specific rules and regs for that property (and the other one near there) had been updated with the current season dates. It wasn't a relic from years ago that was just hanging out there. So I kept digging and I found the Illinois DNR administrative code, where the specific rules and regs for everything that the DNR administrates from boat registration to extractive mining operations is listed in legalese. I found the section specific to turkey hunting and then the subsection specific to turkey hunting on state-owned or controlled land. And there it is in black and white: both of the properties listed as allowing fall archery turkey hunting...

    So I have saved a copy of that on my home computer and I am printing it out to keep with my tags and licenses just in case I have anyone contest the fact while I am out hunting. I feel like I am vindicated and I learned a lot about the relation between the pubic-facing documents like the web site and the hunter's digest and the regulations that back them up administratively.

    I believe that the person I was talking about was thinking I wanted to shotgun hunt for turkey, even though I stated very clearly on both of my messages as well as in our conversation that I was talking about archery turkey hunt, and also the fact that the fall shotgun turkey season in Illinois was over a month ago. And he is correct that fall shotgun turkey hunting is not available in either of the parks. But I still think that DNR staff should be aware of all regulations and they should be explainers/ambassadors to the public about what is and is not available or allowable.

    All in all, very disappointed at the moment, but proud of myself for doing the research and getting the right answer.

    OK, rant over.

  2. Default

    Historically, I get invited to do some waterfowl hunting on the last two weeks of the season, which would be this weekend and next. I haven't received the invitation yet but I am looking forward to getting out this weekend. We are going to have a few days of subfreezing temps that shuld lock up smaller ponds and might concentrate them on the stretch of river we usually hunt. I hope everyone else is out there filling tags.

  3. Default

    Well, It's on. I have an appointment with some waterfowl tomorrow morning. If all goes well I will be posting pictures of a successful hunt soon.

  4. Default

    Well, Saturday's Duck/goose hunt was productive, just not as productive as I had hoped.

    I was invited to hunt on a mostly suburban river that will probably lose hunting access in the next few years. This is the 4th or 5th year I have been to this spot and it is basically in the backyard of a $500K-$1M house next to a golf course across from an ag field that will probably start growing houses in the next 10 years.

    The river was up and had been up a little higher recently. You can see the little ice bells in this picture that formed as the river level went down.

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    The nice thing is that most of the little ponds in the nearby housing developments were frozen up so we felt like there would be a lot of birds on the open water of the river. We got out before the sun and threw out just a few decoys and sat back to wait for legal shooting light.

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    In the picture the geese and ducks you see are decoys. As we were getting closer to shooting light those decoys were doing their work and we had a few fly in and then shelter on the far side of the river. Then a few more and a few more. There were about 10 on the other side of the river and then this train of about 30 ducks came swimming up the shoreline right at our feet. It was unbelievable. At 5 minutes to legal shooting light we had about 40 ducks in the water, some of which I could have scooped up with a net.

    All of a sudden on my right (downriver) we hear a scolding sound of quacking and about 5 ducks fly off. More quacking more flying off. Then I see a busy little muskrat swimming up the line of mallards in front of me and he is literally scaring off all of the ducks. With one minute to legal shooting light we had 1 duck left... I took a shot at him, but he managed to get away due in large part to my poor shooting aided by my disbelief in what had just happened. It was very neat to see all of those ducks, but hard to swallow the fact that none of them ended up laying next to us...

    We had several pairs come zipping past us over the next several hours but due to mixed signals and my poor shooting we stayed at 0 ducks for the day. There were plenty of ducks and geese up in the air though and we spent a lot of time trying to call them in, but it just wasn't happening. We could see wave after wave of geese flying to our right and it looked like they were landing in the golf course, but none of them seemed interested in our little stretch of river.

    At one point, I got down into the river and hugging the bank I sneaked downriver to the edge of our hunting area to peek around the bed, just to see if anything had landed in the river and might come our way. I could see lots of activity around the bridge about 1/4 mile east of us, but nothing that was close. I was a little disappointed and ready t go back to my buddy and suggest we leave when a lone drake came zooming right along the water. I managed to get my gun on him and took him out of the sky, which is kind of amazing because I am not normally good at crossing shots.

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    That's my first anything that I have taken with that gun (Remington 870) that I bought last Spring. I took it out for Turkey season, but never got a shot.
    I sent that picture to my wife and she asked me how the duck got my gun. I had to confess that the duck and bunny were arguing and I got confused, a la Elmer Fudd.

    We stuck it out a little longer and then headed out. On my way back home I had to stop at the golf course to take a picture of all the unhuntable geese.

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    Could have gotten my limit with a 9 Iron...

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