Du Quoin, Ill. – Mark Bergagna was hunting a small backwater
lake just off of the Illinois River on the final day of
“There were lots of ducks flying high and following the river,”
the Spring Valley man said. “The high water just scattered the
birds everywhere. We saw quite a few mallards, but what ducks we
did have on our area have moved because the river is flooded.”
And so it goes for the state’s waterfowlers.
North and central zone duck hunters have had a mixed opening to
the 2009 campaign, while those in the south zone prepare to start
their season on Nov. 14.
A delayed and slow-going corn and soybean harvest has hampered
northern hunters, while heavy rains and flooding have taken a bite
out of the duckers along rivers in central Illinois.
Not that there aren’t ducks flying.
Randy Senica, of Tonica, was hunting on the backwaters of the
Illinois River on opening day in the central zone.
“There were lots of ducks flying around, more than I usually see
on opening day,” he said. “We didn’t kill as many as I think we
should have due to the high water, but we saw lots more than usual.
There were wood ducks, wigeon, teal and mallards in the area.”
Incidentally, the early November Illinois Natural History Survey
showed a duck count that was down compared to past years.
The count in the Illinois River was 178,565 ducks, slightly
fewer than the 10-year average of 185,273. The Mississippi River
had 111,625 ducks, compared to the 10-year average of 123,753.
Ducks and geese are also well below average in central and
southern Illinois. The Nov. 2 count in southern Illinois had 13,950
ducks, compared to the five-year average 39,950.
Meanwhile, goose hunters have had limited success, with most
good shooting coming over water or at private goose clubs.
“There are lots of birds around but the crop harvest has been
slow,” Matt Porter, owner of Porter’s Goose Hunting Club based in
Winthrop Harbor, said. “Despite crops in the field, we are still
killing them. There are lots of migrators as well as resident birds
in the area.”
Central zone hunters began their goose season with limited
action but are hopeful. The Nov. 2 central Illinois count showed
875 Canada geese at Lake Shelbyville and 275 at Lake
South zone hunters begin their goose season Nov. 14 and may have
to wait awhile for large numbers of Canadas. The Nov. 2 survey
showed a total of 1,520 Canada geese in the region – 350 were at
Crab Orchard and 550 were at Du Quoin. The total is down quite a
bit from the five-year average of 3,155.
“As always, our season will depend on the weather,” Anna goose
hunter Tom Berner said.