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Heartland Outdoors

Iowa shotgun deer preview

Tue, November 29, 2016

The first of Iowa’s popular shotgun deer seasons is December 3-7 when an expected 75,000 orange clad hunters head to the timber. That group will be followed by 50,000 hunters who prefer the December 10-18 second gun season.

Each contingent will also pack along thousands of antlerless tags, to extend their time in the field.

Fans of cold weather purchase about 40,000 tags for the December 19-January 10 late muzzleloader season.

Iowa’s shotgun seasons allow for group drives; drivers pushing deer toward blockers. Anyone in the group may tag a downed deer—with their own tag. That stands in contrast to other states—-and even Iowa’s more solitary muzzleloader and bow seasons. However, it has proven to be an efficient method for taking deer, since modern deer hunting was introduced here in the early 1950s. Whatever the season, any deer must be tagged before it is moved or within 15 minutes—whichever comes first.

It also holds the potential for danger, as drivers move closer to, or across, their friends on a drive.

That’s why wearing solid blaze orange is mandatory. The minimum amount covers a hunter’s torso. But more is better.

For several years now, deer hunters have noticed fewer whitetails than in the early 2000s. That is by design. A decade ago, state lawmakers instructed the DNR to reduce the deer population, after steady growth through the previous few decades.

With addition of county and season specific antlerless tags, generous quotas, and a couple extra seasons, near Thanksgiving and during January, hunters responded.  Adaptive regulation changes have lowered the deer herd to mid-1990s target levels, in all but a handful of counties.

Hunters in 27 north central and northwest counties have no county antlerless tags and may take only antlered deer during the first shotgun season.

Iowa’s overall deer harvest across all seasons last year was 105,401, down 30 percent from the 2006 peak and the 2016 harvest should be similar.  The 2014 harvest was estimated at 101,595.

“Now is a good time for the DNR to work with hunters and landowners to help develop a better understanding of proper deer management; including the benefits of harvesting does and keeping deer numbers at ecologically acceptable levels,” stresses Andrew Norton, state deer biologist for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.  “Hunters working with landowners at the local level are the best and most efficient way to keep deer numbers acceptable and provide a high quality deer herd.”

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Special hunt at Savanna

Fri, November 25, 2016

SAVANNA, Ill. — Warm temperatures and bright sunshine welcomed 60 hunters earlier this month during a special deer hunt at Lost Mound Unit of the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge in Savanna, Illinois.

Field surveys showed the deer population was high and the rutting season was at its peak. Quadriplegics, paraplegics, amputees and other physically challenged hunters harvested 29 deer that included 15 does and 14 bucks. The largest buck, a 3 1/2 year old 10 pointer with field dressed weight of 191 pounds was taken by Florida resident Wendell Hurst.

Included in the participants was Charles Melton from Richview, Illinois. Melton earned a silver medal in the summer para-Olympics in Rio as a member of the American rugby team. He also is an avid basketball player and has hunted deer at Lost Mound for several years.

This deer hunt has gained national attention with hunters traveling from nine states. States other than Illinois represented were Alabama, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota, Tennessee and Wisconsin.

The Lost Mound deer hunt began in 2008 and has 35 sites located in areas that are closed to public access due to ongoing environmental clean-up at this former military installation, Savanna Army Depot. Hunters must meet the Illinois Class P-2a disability certification that requires a physical disability of a permanent nature that renders a person unable to walk 200 feet or more unassisted by another person or without the aid of a walker, crutches, wheelchair, or other device. Each hunter has an able-bodied attendant that can also hunt.

Disabled individuals can harvest three deer and attendants can harvest two deer.

Lost Mound Site Manager Alan Anderson was excited about the continued success of this program.

“It is a unique hunting experience by a special group of hunters,” Anderson said. “Their daily challenges of life were overshadowed by the enthusiasm and determination for deer hunting. They provided both inspiration and encouragement to the staff and volunteers that administered the hunt.”

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Register now for youth goose hunt

Tue, November 22, 2016

Youth interested in participating in the annual Central Illinois Youth Goose Hunt, sponsored by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), can register now for the hunt, which is scheduled for January 15-16, 2017.

To register for a drawing to participate in the hunt, youth hunters must phone in to the IDNR at 217-785-8060 by the registration deadline of Friday, December 30, 2018.  The youth goose hunt will be held at private waterfowl hunting clubs in the Canton area in Fulton Co.
                                                                                               
A lottery drawing involving all youth who phone in to register will be conducted on January 3, 2017, and youth hunters selected will be notified by mail.  First-time applicants will be given a priority over previous participants in the drawing.

The hunt is open to youngsters ages 10-15 at the time of the hunt.  All applicants must possess a valid Illinois hunting or sportsman’s license, have a Harvest Information Program (HIP) registration number, and have a 20 gauge or larger shotgun. Youth hunt participants must be accompanied by a parent or guardian who must possess a valid firearm owner’s identification (FOID) card.

To register for the hunt or for more information, call 217-785-8060.

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Corps waives fees for veterans

Tue, November 01, 2016

CARLYLE LAKE – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) announces the waiver of day use fees for veterans, active and reserve component service members, and their families at the more than 2,800 USACE-operated recreation areas nationwide on Veterans Day, November 11.

The waiver covers fees for boat launch ramps and swimming beaches. The waiver does not apply to camping and camping-related services, or fees for specialized facilities such as group picnic shelters. Other agencies that manage recreation areas on USACE lands are encouraged, but not required, to offer the waiver in the areas that they manage.

“We began this initiative in 2006 to support and honor the men and women who have served the nation and the armed forces,” said Maj. Gen. Ed Jackson, USACE Deputy Commanding General for Civil and Emergency Operations. “This Veterans Day we invite our veterans, active and reserve service members, and their families to visit one of the thousands of USACE recreation sites throughout the country and enjoy their favorite outdoor activities, free of day use charges.”

USACE is one of the nation’s federal leaders in providing outdoor and water-based recreation hosting millions of visits annually to its more than 400 lake and river projects. It’s estimated that 90 percent of the USACE-operated recreation areas are within 50 miles of metropolitan areas offering diverse outdoor activities for all ages close to home.

For more information visit www.corpslakes.us or contact the Carlyle Lake Project Office at (618) 594-2484 or email at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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Rutting bucks on the move in Wisconsin

Fri, October 28, 2016

Fall colors are now past peak over most of northern and central Wisconsin, with the exception of Door and a few other central counties that are still reporting peak color, along with much of the southeastern part of the state, according to the Wisconsin Department of Tourism’s Fall Color Report (exit DNR). Even in the southeast, though, heavy rain earlier this week was reported to have brought down many leaves.

There are indications that deer are in rut, with bucks with swollen necks observed traveling during the day and buck rubs and scrapes becoming more common. This is good for hunters but not so good for motorists, with an uptick in vehicle deer collisions being reported.

The change to wet and cooler weather resulted in some challenging fishing conditions on Northwoods lakes. Water temperatures have dropped into the low 50s on most lakes. Musky have still been the main species of interest and they have been providing some fairly consistent action, with most anglers dragging suckers around. Most of the musky landed have been in the 34- to 42-inch size, but a few up to 47 inches have also been reported. There has been just a light amount of pressure for walleye and panfish, with walleye success continuing to be quite erratic.

Fishing pressure was very low again in Door County with most anglers fishing on the Green Bay side of the peninsula. The few anglers fishing out on Lake Michigan were doing very well trolling for both chinook and rainbow trout. Yellow perch fishing continues to be very popular in the Sturgeon Bay Area and smallmouth bass fishing was excellent this week with many anglers reporting catching a lot of bass that were all fairly large.

Mature chinook salmon are on their last leg and are nearing the end of their life cycle, but there are still plenty of reports of fish in many rivers. Anglers have reported better luck catching coho salmon rather than chinook, but both species have been caught throughout the week. There were still good numbers of fish in the Ahnapee, Kewaunee, East Twin, Manitowoc, Branch, Milwaukee and Root rivers as well as in Door County streams.

The Wild Rose State Fish Hatchery will host a Fall Migration Mystery Open House on Saturday, Oct. 29 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. to celebrate the last weekend of the season open to visitors. Activities including: salmon migration maze; fish anatomy; view new sturgeon touchscreen; learn fly tying and fly casting; kids backyard bass casting; Gyotaku fish printing.

Water levels on the Lower Wisconsin River remain high and have made access difficult to some popular hunting spots in the the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway. Diving duck numbers are increasing in larger southern bodies of water, but waterfowl hunters continue to report some difficulty finding ducks due to all the high water conditions.

Leaf drop is progressing rapidly across the state and forest floors are thick with downed leaves. This should be a big advantage for bird and deer hunters. Woodcock are still thick in central Wisconsin and activity has increased at southern Wisconsin wildlife areas with the opener of pheasant season and continued weekly pheasant stocking.

This weekend there are eight state properties holding Halloween or autumn events, including a “Creatures of the Night” event at the Horicon Marsh Education and Visitors Center, a haunted tower hike at the Pike Lake Unit of the Kettle Moraine and a Halloween Bash at Willow River State Park. For a complete list of events, search the DNR website for “Get Outdoors.”

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Trapping permit drawing for Mackinaw

Sun, October 23, 2016

A drawing will be held Saturday, October 29, 2016, for three trapping units at Mackinaw River State Fish and Wildlife Area and one unit at Ilo Dillin Habitat Area.  All applicants must have a current or previous year trapping license and habitat stamp.

The drawing will be held at the office of the Mackinaw River SFWA, located 5 miles northeast of Mackinaw.  The turn off to Mackinaw River SFWA is well marked on Route 9, approximately 2 ½ miles east of the town of Mackinaw.  Registration will start at 11:00 a.m., with the drawing to be held at 12:00 Noon.

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Iowa quail numbers highest since 1989

Sat, October 22, 2016

Iowa’s quail population is its highest since 1989 after experiencing increases again across south central and southwest Iowa this year.

“This is the best opportunity we’ve had to hunt quail in 27 years,” Bogenschutz said.  “For anyone who has ever had an interest in quail or who hasn’t hunted quail recently, this is the year to go.”

In 1989, 80,000 hunters harvested 400,000 quail. In 2015, 10,000 hunters shot 28,000 quail.

Quail population information is also included in the August roadside survey for hunters wanting to give quail hunting a try. Quail season begins October 29.

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