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Learn More About Illinois Waterfowl Hunting
Illinois - -"The Land of Lincoln" is also the land of great waterfowl hunting. Illinois is on the Mississippi Flyway. The Mississippi River, and untold other waterways "host" tremendous flocks of waterfowl "coming and going." Up and down the state, there are such huge opportunities that waterfowl hunters have the happy "problem" of having to decide where to go and what species to hunt. And of course like other Midwestern states, the Canada goose problem continues - -especially over populating areas like Chicago, other urban communities, as well as agricultural areas.
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) website is a "sight to behold." Excellent. Concise. Chocked full of great information . We didn't get a lot of information from the IDNR waterfowl sourcing personnel directly. Some info. Not much. We did our own research and have come up with some suggestions. Without trying to sound repetitious – but we unashamedly are - -we strongly urge our readers to source this website for the Illinois areas, businesses and excellent guides that partner with us. These sources will be able to give hunters all the information they will need to find the best places to hunt the waterfowl they're after, with success and a sense of both fun and accomplishment. We also will provide all the of the IDNR contact indicia at the end of this article.
The information we now pass on is based on both research and discussion with IDNR personnel and "real live Illinois waterfowl hunters." Generally it's all "pretty correct," so don't start quoting "chapter and verse" if we're off by a bit on anything we state. We do source our info closely so it's at least some pretty decent things we're passing on.
First- - and foremost: Illinois has three waterfowl zones- - north, central and south. Season times and dates, permits, regs, bag limits – all of that "good stuff" changes yearly - -even during a season and varies by zone. The 2010 season was a bit below expectations, but in '09, Illinois waterfowl hunters harvested close to 400,000 ducks, and 142,000 Canada geese. NOT BAD! Indeed, outside of Arkansas, for instance, Illinois hunters got more mallards than any other state on the Mississippi Flyway. So the "birds are there."
You can hunt with firearms or use archery (at least that's what the IDNR has told us by written communication). Be careful - -Illinois, like most other states enforces the use of proper weaponry AND ammunition - -you don't want to use anything "toxic" – that'll cost you big-time. The regs when it comes to all of this stuff are readily and easily accessible on the IDNR website.
Now here's what's happening "right now" as we write this (summer of 2011). The "five year" waterfowl hunting scenarios/plans/regs/zones and on and on are up for review, as they are in other contiguous states like Wisconsin. The IDNR is hosting a long series of public hearings requesting input from the public, hunters, and other interested sources –such as hunting affinity groups. Once the next "five year plan" is adopted, it's pretty-much "written in stone" (the Feds get in on the act and require that type of stability) for the next five years. So everyone in Illinois wants and needs to "get it right" first time around.
Exigencies like weather, species populations, disease, wetland preservation - -a whole lot of things – can and do change regs all the time. It's a "fluid" type of situation that adapts to the ever changing hunting and wilderness environment –and that's good, BUT, the general rules once written are going to be it for the next five years. So, if you're interested in voicing your opinion(s) on anything "waterfowl," contact the IDNR, as soon as you can.
There's an early goose season (geese are a problem - - in Illinois and other Midwestern states, as we've previously noted), then there's a youth hunt, and of course special regs for the disabled, special zones and hunting opportunities. It's organized- - maybe appearing a bit chaotic, but in a "good way." Generally speaking you can waterfowl hunt- - including geese etc - -from sometime in September to sometime in January - -with seasons varying by zone and all the rest of it. Bottom-line: You're not going to do better waterfowl hunting ANYWHERE, than Illinois. Check with the IDNR for all the "intricate regs" that you'll face, depending on where and what you want to hunt. And yes, here we go again - -first source you should use are the guides and businesses that partner with us. They KNOW the "who/what/where" of waterfowl hunting in their area(s). Don't forget that. You'll save yourself a lot of hassle, time and money- - and end up with a great hunt by using the sources on our website.
Please remember - -if you can think of a breed of duck or goose you want to hunt, you're probably going to find it very nicely in Illinois. And the state is terrific - -even with the toll roads. People are good, practical and friendly; and hunting has a long tradition in Illinois. The scenery is spectacular (no kidding – it IS!), and the "sounds of silence" in the wilderness is "deafening" - -which is exactly what a waterfowl hunter seeks.
The "Land of Lincoln" beckons waterfowl hunters yearly - -and with good reason. We've been there - -we've done that, and it's all true.
Here is all the contact indicia for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources:
Springfield (Home Office)
One Natural Resources Way
Springfield, IL 62702-1271
Region I Office-Northwestern Illinois
2317 E. Uncoinway
Sterling, IL 61081
Region II Office-Northeastern Illinois
2050 West Stearns Road
Barlett, IL 60103
Region III Office-East Central Illinois
15676 State Highway 54
Clinton, IL 61727
Region IV Office-West Central Illinois
4521 Alton Commerce Pkwy.
Alton, IL 62002
Region V Office-Southern Illinois
11731 State Highway 37
Benton, IL 62812
Chicago Regional Office
James R. Thompson Suite 4-300
Chicago, IL 60601