058063-R1-82-82Private, public land and private hunting clubs offer waterfowlers a buffet in Illinois.  Public land offers hunting on big water, small water, river and green tree hunting.  Early season duck hunters find: pintails, teal, gadwall and wood duck.  Later the mallards and other species arrive.  By the time the mergansers and golden eyes arrive the season is almost over.  The peak of the migration tends to be about the middle of November.

Later in the season geese begin to arrive.  Most of the flock is Canada geese, but snows and blues are taken as well.

Teal and wood ducks are taken early in the season.  Teal hunting is exceptional on Rend Lake and Carlyle Lake because of the exposed mud flats in both locations.  The flats attract a great number of blue-winged teal.

Rend Lake Wildlife Management Area contains some 7,690 acres near Bonnie, Illinois in Franklin County.  Site specific information is available from the IDNR office at 618-279-3110 or writing to them at RR1, Box 168G, Bonnie, Illinois 62816.  Carlyle Lake Wildlife Management Areas is about 8,764 acres in Fayette County near Vandalia.  The address for the Site Superintendent is RR2, Box 233, Vandalia, Illinois62471 and their phone number is 618-425-3533.

Private water also holds birds.  It can be difficult and/or expensive to gain access for hunting.  That does not mean that the average hunter has to have second rate hunting.  Not at all!

Good areas for duck and goose hunting are on many state management areas such as Oakwood Bottoms, Rend Lake and Carlyle Lake.  The past couple of years, the latter two have held birds right on through the season.  Some have even overwintered.

Oakwood Bottoms is about 3400 acres of flooded timber in Jackson County near Murphysboro, Illinois.  For information about it, contact IDNR at 618-687-1731.

Far southern Illinois is famous for the goose hunting but excellent duck hunting is also available.  Although Illinois as a whole ranks low in the amount of public land available southern Illinois has a lot of good waterfowl areas.

Ducks are present in areas near both the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers.  Both rivers enjoy good harvests.  Waterfowlers with boats concentrate on areas off sandbars and wing dams for the best results.

Fewer public hunting areas are along the eastern part of the state.  One public area on the eastern border of the state is Dog Island Wildlife Management Area in Smithland Pool.  It is 220 acres in size.  For site specific information contact the IDNR office at Dixon Springs State Park.  The address is RR2, Box 178, Golconda, Illinois62938.  The telephone number is 618-949-3394.

In recent years the focus of waterfowlers has been around the Union County Conservation Area, Crab Orchard Refuge and Horseshoe Lake.  Commercial goose hunting clubs have taken to managing crops in a way that is not baiting and does not run afoul of the laws on baiting.  Yet they do attract ducks to their areas.

Union County Conservation Area is about 2800 acres near Jonesboro, Illinois in Union County.  The refuge office is at 2755 Refuge Road, Jonesboro, Illinois 62952.  Their phone number is 618-833-5175.

Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge in Williamson County is owned by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.  The 23,000 acres near Marion, Illinois are a Mecca for waterfowl with parts of the refuge closed to humans.  There is still ample waterfowl hunting areas in refuge blinds or independently from boats in the west end of the lake.  For more information about waterfowl hunting at the refuge contact USF&WS, Carterville, Illinois62918 or call the refuge office at 618-997-3344.  Additional information is available from the Williamson County Tourism Bureau, 1602 Sioux Drive, Marion, Illinois 62959.  Their phone number is 800-GEESE-99.

Horseshoe Lake Conservation Area operates by the IDNR from an office at Box 85, Miller City, Illinois 62962.  Their phone number is 618-776-5689.  The Alexander County hunting area contains some 4,190 acres and is open to waterfowl hunting with special hunts for Disabled persons in addition to regular hunting programs.

Traditionally there are a lot of ducks held in the Cache River area and there is public hunting available.  Cache River State Natural Area, in Johnson County, is an unusual cypress swamp hunting area.  The 9,507 acres is different from the more traditional hardwood hunting areas found around Illinois.  For information about the hunting program contact the Site Superintendent at 930 Sunflower Lane, Belknap, Illinois or call the office at 618-634-9678.

Moving to the big waters areas, ducks are hunted from boats with boat mounted blinds.  Rend and Carlyle reservoirs are excellent examples.  Both also have excellent walk-in opportunities.

Other walk-in areas include LaRue Swamp and Oakwood Bottoms.  LaRue Swamp Federal Land is 1000 acres in Union County near Wolf Lake.  For information call 618-833-8576.

The above areas combine to provide over 60,000 acres of waterfowl hunting in the southern tier of counties.  They do not include the several hundred thousand acres in the Shawnee National Forest that also has populations of waterfowl visiting each winter.

Although regulations vary from one area to another, the minimum number of decoys allowed in most public areas is 12.  Some of the areas also have daily assigned blinds while others permit hunters to find their own hunting area after a certain time of the day.  It is best to contact the site, prior to actually planning a hunt.  They are happy to inform the public as to the restrictions in the area.  The IDNR is dedicated to providing a safe and quality hunting experience on public land.  Public land waterfowling is alive and well in southern Illinois.




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  2. Nice picture and good information. We have alot of waterfowl in our area because of all the lakes. I was headed home today and in front of me about 5o canadian geese landed at a school grassy area. Took a few pictures, check it out.
    Canadian Geese


  4. Indeed hunting in Illinois is great because of abundance of duck but as the duck increases the hunter increases as well as the hunting clubs and then the competition is getting tighter. What if spend a 3 hrs and fly to Nicaragua? You will surely love it because you abundance of ducks in the area but low to empty population of hunter so you have plenty of slugs to use, enjoy VIP treatment and 5 star hotel accommodation. This is just a suggestions in case you are guys interested visit us at Nicaragua Bird Hunting Adventures.

  5. Thanks for the info. Good areas for hunting duck and goose.

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