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Recent entries


Versatile Hunter

Oak Ridge Sportsman’s Club Tower Shoots

Thu, February 07, 2019

If you’ve never tried a traditional tower shoot then I suggest you do.  I’ve ran the dog for “pick up” on these events and have even shot at a few and they are always a good test of your shooting skills and a good way to get out of the house in the depression of winter and hang with friends.

Here are the details:

February 16 and March 9, 2019

Sign in starts at 8 am, head to the field at 9 am

Advanced registration requested

$100 entry fee includes 6 pheasants thrown and lunch for every hunter

Oak Ridge will throw an extra free pheasant for every 2 hunters

Extra dogs and dog handlers are often needed to retrieve at these shoots. If you would be interested in running your dog, please contact us.

Black Bird pool – $10 entry fee, shoot the one black bird thrown and win the pool. If the black bird is not harvested, the pool goes to the dog handlers. Black bird availability is unknown, will be offered if available.

These tower shoots will be in the same flat location as last year. Hill climbing no longer required. As usual, there will be a wagon ride to the field.

There is a minimum of 15 people required to hold each shoot – a date will be cancelled if the minimum is not met. Reach out to anyone who might be interested so we can have a full shoot!

The maximum for each shoot is 30 hunters, 2 per station. If less than 30 sign up, a drawing will be held to determine who shoots at a station alone.

A tower shoot is a group effort. Here’s how it works:
• There is a central tower from which the pheasants will be released, with a circle of shooters around it.
• Hunters will rotate to each station around the circle
• Shooting is to the outside of the circle only – this will be enforced
• Dogs and handlers will be provided to retrieve birds – please do not bring a dog
• All harvested birds will be kept by handlers until the end of the shoot. The birds will be collected by Oak Ridge and distributed evenly among the hunters.
• Lead shot size 4, 5 or 6 preferred, size 2 shot is not allowed
• Eye protection required
• Please bring your hunting license and orange hat
• No 4-wheelers or side by sides will be allowed unless the field is frozen or dry

Sign up today! Call Brian at 309-208-2624


Pheasant Fest!

Tue, January 22, 2019

Don’t miss this opportunity to attend the 2019 Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic—the Nation’s largest upland bird hunting and conservation trade show!

Hosted by Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever, this 3-day celebration will be held February 22, 23 & 24 at the Schaumburg Convention Center in suburban Chicago.  Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic combines a national consumer show, wildlife habitat seminar series, and family events complete with puppies, tractors, shotguns, and art. It’s grown to be the country’s largest event for upland hunters, sporting dog owners, and wildlife habitat conservationists.

Register now at to get a COMPLIMENTARY 1-day pass (limited supplies) or go to for full ticket information.

While at the show, visit the Illinois Conservation Foundation (ICF)  booth in the Illinois Department of Natural Resources exhibit area and BECOME an ICF MEMBER at the special Pheasant Fest rate of only $20!  All those who join under this Pheasant Fest offer will have a chance to WIN YOUR CHOICE of an Illinois Lifetime Resident Hunting License or K2 Cooler!  Also, the first 250 new or returning members to join ICF also will receive a FREE “Bore Boss” flexible cleaning rod!

As an ICF member you will be supporting youth conservation education and youth hunting & shooting programs offered in partnership with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and other Illinois conservation organizations such as Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever.  Help us preserve our upland hunting heritage by attending the 2019 Pheasant Fest and becoming an ICF member!

Eric Schenck
Executive Director
Illinois Conservation Foundation

The Illinois Conservation Foundation inspires today’s youth—tomorrow’s leaders—by providing quality outdoor education and programs that instill a lifelong interest in conservation, ecology and sustainability.  Join us at

The Illinois Conservation Foundation, or ICF, is a non-profit 501(c)(3) conservation organization dedicated to conserving Illinois parks, fish and wildlife areas, and natural habitats, and maintaining Illinois outdoor heritage traditions.


Gilles Family Continues to Give Back

Tue, January 15, 2019

Our Spoon River NAVHDA Chapter members had the privilege of guiding the 2018 hunting season at the annual Gilles Farm youth pheasant hunt.  We’ve been a part of so many youth and disabled upland hunting events, but this was one of the best funded and well-run events I’ve yet to see.  Not to mention the farm itself was something to behold. . .

The Gilles hunts are sponsored by the Illinois River Pheasants Forever Chapter as well as several private donors.  They have been holding these hunts for over 13 years and hit a peak of over 200 kids over the two-day event in 2015.  Weather-dependent, they average 100 kids.  Prizes and lunch are furnished for all involved and the dogs used are first class.  Groups of 4-5 kids at a time go out for the hunts.  Clay shooting is offered before each hunt to get the youngsters tuned up.  Lunch is served, and each hunt teaches lessons in gun safety, conservation, hunting etiquette, and cleaning and eating game birds. 

The Gilles family has owned farm ground in Peoria County since 1940. When CRP was offered back in 1992, the family began enrolling its’ highly erodible ground along the Spoon River.  Since then, over 500 acres of land now consists of wetlands, terraces, food plots, dry dams, CRP, CREP, tree plantings, bird houses, winter cover, and prairie grasses and forbs.  Not to mention the farm is a registered game preserve! The prairie has been an experiment over the years, starting with what the government thought was best (lots of grass like big bluestem), and evolving to what ecologists now know is most valuable to wildlife and most mimics the original prairies of Illinois (more forbs and less grass).  This allows for bird species to more easily make their way through the cover, especially quail.  It also provides the best overall habitat diversity so that multiple wildlife species can ultimately benefit. I’ve seen a lot of prairie restorations in my years as a Biologist and this property ranks right up there with the best I’ve yet to behold. After all, mimicking a native prairie is no small feat. 

Several events for local conservation and school groups have been held on the Gilles property over the years in order to educate young and old alike as to what species existed on the prairie and which ones should be used today in order to restore the land. Thousands have made the trip here to learn about the right way to conserve soil, be better stewards of the land, and create habitat for birds and bees alike. Along with these events, multiple Pheasants Forever trap shooting education and competition events have also been hosted here.

The family have received multiple awards including Illinois Conservation Farm Family of the Year, Wildlife Landowners of the Year, Pheasants Forever Dedication Awards, Clean Water Celebration’s Making Waves Award, Illinois Corn Growers Environmental Action Award, and perhaps one of their most esteemed awards—the Pheasants Forever No Child Left Indoors Volunteer of the Year Award.

People like the Gilles family that give back in such a profound way should be commended as should the organizations and people that donate their precious time to such a commendable effort in giving back to the next generation of wildlife conservation via hunting and fishing dollars.  Not only are the Gilles family starting new hunters, but they are educating even non-hunting folks to the importance of wildlife habitat and good land stewardship through the proper use of land. 

If you have a youngster ready to take the next step toward becoming a hunter, I highly suggest getting them enrolled in the Gilles hunt which normally takes place around Thanksgiving weekend every year.  Contact the Illinois River Valley Pheasants Forever Chapter for details.


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