Spring is coming and you should put away the hunting gear until next fall.  NOT!  For the dyed-in-the-wool hunter the season is never over.  Just the quarry changes from season to season. 

Flexible hunters with a good imagination can always find another quarry to pursue.  You just have to keep an open mind.  True, hunting rats or pigeons is not as glamorous as hunting that big whitetail.  It can be equally as challenging and helps to hone skills that might come in handy next fall. 

Remember that dispatching a woodchuck with a clean, humane shot still is vital to the hunting experience as would be a trophy whitetail deer.  It is a self-imposed moral responsibility to maintain the same high standard of ethics all year around. 

When one speaks of varmint hunting the mind conjures up a view of a coyote coming to a call.  There are other varmints out there to hunt.  Do not forget the pigeons, rats, gophers, and woodchucks that are available.  Except for the woodchuck, they all can be hunted the year around. Illinois does have a specific and generous season for woodchuck hunting.  It does not conflict with other hunting seasons.

Among the game birds that can be hunted in what is traditionally the off-season is the turkey.  With both a spring and fall season this bird provides ample opportunity to polish hunting skills and a chance to be in the woods. 

For the bowhunter there is bowfishing for rough fish and frogs.  Frogs have a specific season but rough fish can be pursued all year.  The extra tackle for bowfishing can be purchased at a local archery pro shop or by mail order.  The cost is minimal and the equipment can be used for years of enjoyment. 

Coyotes are probably one of the most challenging of the off-season quarry inIllinois.  Huntable in good numbers the entire year, the sun dog requires skill in hunting, scouting and calling.  It is a chance to try out that new camo pattern and perhaps a new deer weapon.  The small size of this canine makes proper shot placement a must. 

Pigeon shooting helps to control their numbers and is a good warm up for pheasant, partridge, dove and quail seasons.  The darting flight of these birds presents and interesting challenge to even the most skilled of shooters.  Pigeons are available to the hunter all year around.  They make an interesting fill in for the more popular game birds. 

As if there are not enough game animals available in the state one can also go to a shooting preserve to pursue such game animals as wild boar.  This European immigrant to the country has been stocked into a number of locations throughout the Midwest.  It is one of the most popular big game animals hunted by bowhunters.  If the preserve is large enough a very challenging hunt can be had for a minimal cost.  Ads for these hunts can be found in outdoor publications and online.

During the summer months the “grass rat” is king.  In addition to the woodchuck, other rodents in this category include: Norway rat, thirteen-lined ground squirrels, and gophers.  All of these rodents present difficult and challenging targets.  Hunting them also is beneficial to landowners upon whose grain crops they feed. 

Only your imagination limits your off-season hunting opportunities.  For the truly dedicated hunter off-season hunting is fun and worthwhile in itself.  Besides it gets one away from the lawnmower or painting the family home.



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  1. Pingback: OFF SEASON HUNTING OPPORTUNITIES | Survival Fishing

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