Soon waterfowl hunters will be sneaking into their blinds as the black and orange streaks of the pre-dawn hours begin to appear in the sky. They have planned for this day in anticipation of great shooting opportunities.
Many hunters spend the early fall days driving roads and making calls to landowners to get permission to hunt their land. This is sometimes without much success. Others plan to hunt public blinds in hunting areas owned by governmental bodies such as the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and various federal lands. Sometimes in the latter case due to demand exceeding supply they are unable to find a place to hunt as supply often exceeds demand. They can still turn to private hunting clubs.
Throughout Illinois there are private waterfowl hunting clubs. Access to some is limited to members while others are open to the public on a daily fee basis. Lists of clubs are attainable from local tourism bureaus, Chambers of Commerce, their websites and advertisements in newspapers and hunting magazines.
It is a good idea to talk with people who hunt there before making a commitment. It is also a good to talk with others who live in the area such as employees of sporting goods stores and anyone in the hunting goods business. It is impossible to go into an area and know what bird hunting success you might expect. But, you can talk with people who live in the area and they can tell you what birds are present and what they are doing. You can do this both before and during the season.
Many clubs welcome hunters bringing their own dog to retrieve downed birds. Other clubs prefer to use their own dogs and still others do not feel a dog is necessary.
Most hunts are from blinds on land and/or water or from pits.
The amenities provided at clubs can vary significantly. Most clubs provide transportation to and from the hunting sight, set up of the decoys, heated sheltered blinds and often provide snacks or even meals. Most provide a caller who is a combination guide, sometimes teacher, and is in charge of the hunt. He usually works for tips. All the hunter needs to provide is his shotgun, shells and warm camouflage clothing.
All hunters are required to possess an Illinois General Hunting license, an Illinois Waterfowl Stamp and Federal Migratory Bird Stamp. It is a good idea to purchase them prior to the hunt as not all clubs have access to them and it is usually too early in the morning to purchase them locally. The Illinois license and stamp are available online but the Federal stamps are available the US Post Office or most other federal offices.
Article Written By; Don Gasaway
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