An opening day for Illinois deer gun season, made even more special by the partial lunar eclipse of the previous hours, with a new hunter in the Des Plaines Fishing and Wildlife Area.

From Edwards County, Gary Bloom messaged Thursday, “Hope you go deer hunting. I’m here now, spotted last night, some today. The heat is on. I saw four males chasing a doe; then one with three done. The Buck ratio is higher than the doe. [Friday] will say. It’s gonna be a cold 24 morning here. The full moon can make things difficult, deer can feed through the night.

Of course, I went deer hunting.

But, it was the strangest deer hunting opening day I can remember in over 50 years. Friday was the opening day of the first Illinois deer gun season, which ends Sunday. The second season is December 2-5.

What made Friday unique was packing, then driving, during a partial lunar eclipse. It added an otherworldly feel.

The partial lunar eclipse just passed as hunters ventured into the field of the Des Plaines State Fishing and Wildlife Area on Friday the day the first gun season opened. from Illinois.
Dale bowman

But the first day of deer season is when I stumble out of life.

This year was also different, as I took John Vukmirovich to hunt deer for the first time. Vukmirovich and I regularly walk nature together: Jackson Park in Eggers Grove in Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area.

We have obtained permits for the Plains State Fishing and Wildlife Area near Wilmington. It was a first for me. I hunted doves and pheasants there, but never deer.

35 permits were issued. On Friday, 26 license holders showed up, so the seven reserve hunters paid $ 5 to hunt for the day. Hunters chose an open parking area, placed a parking pass inside their windshield, and pinned green numbered patches to the back of their neon orange outerwear.

Site superintendent Jeff Wepprecht got things done. At 5:08 a.m., he gave the opening dos and don’ts speech. Then he sent us: “Nice day of hunting. There are a lot of deer here. Go hunt.

My favorite time of year is before filming time (half an hour before sunrise), when deer season seems like an eternal possibility.

In the woods while it was still dark, I could hear Canada geese honking incessantly. Wood ducks passed just before dawn. At least once I heard the rustle of a deer pass, out of sight.

As the light swelled, crows grew en masse, gray squirrels scurried across the leaves, making my nerves jump to the thought that a deer was coming. I sat so still that a gray squirrel came within reach. Trying to dampen my enthusiasm, I trembled and scared the bejesus.

Then those late risers, the fox squirrels, started running and climbing the trees. I heard a big spike, but I didn’t see it.

After the winds on Thursday, Friday morning was remarkably calm, so the calmly falling mulberry leaves landed noisily in the forest litter.

“People show up regularly, that’s the general consensus,” Dan Skinner said at noon. “Everyone is in a good mood. It was a cool morning. There are light winds. The dollars are chasing the deer and [hunters] see deer.

Skinner, a forest wildlife program manager for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, worked at the Ogle County checkpoint.

“Much of gun season, with just seven days, depends on the weather,” Skinner said.

Other than a few weekend rains in places, the first season feels like reasonable fall weather.

On the way back to meet Vukmirovich for lunch, I emptied a pheasant.

It was time.

He had to come home early and I wanted to hunt until the end.

In counties with chronic wasting disease – there are 20 with 14 checkpoints – hunters must register deer slaughtered at a checkpoint between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. during the two armed deer seasons. Skinner recalled that Carroll County is a new checkpoint this year.

Sunrise at Des Plaines State Fish and Wildlife Area on Friday slowly revealed the opening day cover of Illinois' first gun season.  Credit: Dale Bowman

Sunrise at Des Plaines State Fish and Wildlife Area on Friday slowly revealed the opening day coverage of Illinois’ first gun season.
Dale bowman

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