Time to unlock the gun safe and do some cleaning, because shotguns are going to be needed sooner rather than later – and for different reasons than you might think.
This past Wednesday, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources sent out a press release (that can be found on the website) describing its annual controlled pheasant hunting reservation process. The IDNR also released the 20 state-controlled areas where the hunting can occur, and one is closer than you might think.
Green River State Wildlife Area in Lee County will provide 15 days of pheasant hunting, a short but fun window of opportunity between early November until a few days before Christmas. Contact the park at 815-379-2324 for more information on the exact dates.
The park is located 13 miles south of Dixon on Illinois Route 26 off of Maytown Road. There are 2,515 huntable acres, fillied with a variety of pine trees, tall prairie grass and marsh. It’s a true hunter’s paradise.
The lead can’t start flying, though, until you’ve applied for a permit. The online permit reservation system for IDNR-operated sites opens August 7th. The daily fee for the controlled pheasant hunting permits is $30 for residents and $35 for nonresidents. Even better, the application process only takes 5 minutes. These are definitely affordable options, and a fun alternative to what will be prime deer hunting season.
“We want to be able to give our outdoor enthusiasts every opportunity to experience what Illinois has to offer,” Illinois Department of Natural Resources spokesman Ed Cross said. “Sometimes upland hunting can be a challenge because people don’t own their own land. By doing this, we’re giving them a chance to get out, and hopefully we can grow more generations of hunters by doing this and sparking interest.”
The first lottery for the permits begins at 8:30 a.m. on August 7th and runs until 1 p.m. on August 14th. Two more 1-week drawings will be scheduled afterward.
Unfortunately, only six of the sites offer the Youth Pheasant Hunt for youngsters ages 10-17, and Green River is not one of them.
If you’d like to take a road trip to these six sites for the opportunity to experience the youth hunt, they are: Mackinaw River State Fish and Wildlife Area in Tazewell County, Clinton Lake State Recreation Area in DeWitt County, Edward Madigan State Fish and Wildlife Area in Logan County, Pere Marquette State Park in Jersey County, Sangchris Lake State Park in Christian and Sangamon Counties, and the World Shooting and Recreational Complex in Randolph County.
If you aren’t able to make a trip to any other site besides Green River, knowing the regulations specific to our local area is vital.
All hunters are required to sign in prior to hunting, and to report their harvest while checking out at the end of the hunt. Simply stop into the office before and after. Only lead or bismuth shot of sizes 5, 6 or 7 are permitted. No toxic shot. Again, be sure to stop in, and don’t be afraid to ask questions before you head into the tall grass.
The time and weather are right to sling some clay pigeons. The temperature for the next 10 days won’t be above 90 degrees, a rarity for this time of year in the Sauk Valley.
So grab some buddies, your bird guns, your target thrower and some clays. Flushing pheasants is exhilarating, but a good shot to follow is a thrill unique to upland hunting.