Duck season failed to make few Illinois hunters happy

Anna, Ill. – The state’s duck hunting season, which wrapped up
with the south zone closure on Jan. 12, will certainly not be one
for the record books.

But the subpar season allegedly has hunters in part of the state
pushing for a fourth waterfowl hunting zone.

E-mails to Illinois Outdoor News starting in December promoted
the additional zone, which would cover part of southern Illinois
and feature a later season. South zone duck hunters were unhappy
with a season that started two weeks earlier than normal this
year.

Though the proposal appeared to have faded away, it was
revisited in a blog by Chicago Sun-Times writer Dale Bowman on Jan.
12. Bowman suggested DNR may not be in favor of the additional
zone, but that hunters with influence may forge ahead with it.

Duck hunters in the rest of the state experienced a down year,
as well – even with usual season date. In the central zone, high
water and ice made hunting a challenge in 2009. Flooding wiped out
the food crop in the lower Illinois River Valley and migrating
ducks became picky early in the season.

Southern zone hunters were apprehensive about the earlier season
dates when they were first announced late last summer. Carl Fraley,
president of the Southern Illinois Quota Zone Waterfowl
Association, called the decision “a total disaster that we may
never recover from.”

Fraley said when the 2009 season opened Nov. 14, there were no
ducks to be found in southernmost Illinois. He added that duck club
owners were crushed by lack of business.

DNR had previously opened the south zone duck season on
Thanksgiving Day, typically a much more active time for migrating
waterfowl in southern Illinois. The 2009 season was opened 12 days
earlier.

“We asked the hunters what they wanted, and that’s what they
told us they wanted,” Ray Marshalla, DNR’s top waterfowl biologist,
said.

Marshalla said the survey results from this year’s season will
most likely play a large part in deciding when the 2010 duck
hunting season will open.

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