Wednesday, February 8th, 2023
Wednesday, February 8th, 2023

Breaking News for

Sportsmen Since 1967

From tip to tip, state ready for some hunting

Ralph LoosAbout once each month I take a drive that practically covers Illinois from head to toe — from Carbondale all the way up to Chicago, and then back. I handle business, see friends and keep an eye out for anything that might be of interest to readers of Illinois Outdoor News.

I've got to tell you this: our drought is ugly.

How this summer's intense heat and severe lack of rain will affect the state's hunting seasons is still unclear. Will "blue tongue" return in the deer herd, as it did during the dry summer of 2007? Are the deer finding enough food? Will an early nut crop wreak havoc on the squirrel season? Are there enough ponds holding water to provide good dove hunting? Are waterfowlers in for a dry duck season?

We will soon find out. Biologists mostly agree that the drought will have little impact on populations. Wildlife are built tough, and drought is a cycle of nature deer, squirrels, ducks and furbearers are designed to endure.

Meanwhile, a few of my stops this week revealed the hurt the heat has put on fish in the state. At Spring Lake, where DNR holds it brood stock for muskies and northern pike, many fish have been lost. It's not a complete wipeout, but the stocking program will take a hit. Dozens of other lakes up and down the state have also seen dead fish — bass, catfish, muskies — an expected result of the heat. On the bright side, there are reports of Asian silver carp found dead along the banks of some rivers and lakes, which is actually good news to fisheries biologists.

So, as we pray for rain and wind down a strange and painful summer, it's time to look forward to the fall and hunting seasons.

We'll talk about those seasons in the next issue of Illinois Outdoor News.

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