THE FRUGAL DUCK HUNTER   Leave a comment

Because we late season waterfowlers are dependent upon a migrating flock for the most part, we should not count out our ducks and geese until the season is over. It means we need to reserve places at commercial clubs and state sponsored hunting areas for those late season hunting dates.

Maybe we need to be a little frugal too. This is especially the case for early season days when the return on investment might be a little skimpy.

Most of our birds are born up north and things have been tough in recent years. Most of the ducks migrating into Illinois follow the Mississippi River and stop off on the Illinois River early.  They move on to southern Illinois as the weather up north begins to deteriorate.  Another factor is the lack of grain fields in many areas of the north.  Summer drought can keep farmers out of the fields until a point where they figure their crop is a write-off.

What does this mean for us? It is time to do a “snow dance”.  Seriously, it means that we need to find hunting locations more to the far southern part of the Illinois or near the Ohio River.  Private hunting clubs take up many of these areas but there are public hunting areas available.

Because we are hunting late in the year, pressure from other hunters is lower. The ducks and geese respond more to smaller spreads of decoys than to the large fields of dekes often employed early in the season.

The frugal hunter can get by with a few decoys strategically placed on small bodies of water. This means less spent on decoys.  He often can buy the unused shotgun shells of early season hunters for a reduced cost.  Sporting goods dealers often have end of the season sales of gear and ammo providing an additional savings.

Need a place to hunt, check with local landowners who now have their crops harvested and might let you hunt for free.

The Union County State Fish and Wildlife Area and Horseshoe Lake State Fish and Wildlife Areas require a purchased permit. Those under 16 can hunt for free.  This is an example of some of the inexpensive hunting available.  Even those areas where permits are for the year can have cheap hunting on weekdays.

An example might be a location with blinds allocated and the person assigned to that blind might not be able to hunt every day. On those days when the assigned person is not using the blind others can use it on a first come first served basis.  Check with the site superintendent to get the details that apply to the area you wish to hunt.

Williamson County Bureau of Tourism (1-800-GEESE-99) has a free brochure on waterfowl hunting opportunities in that area. It contains names and addresses of hunting clubs in the area as well as information on hunting the Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge 618-997-3344) near Marion.  Additional information about the refuge hunting opportunities is available from the Refuge Visitors Center, 8588 S. Illinois Route 148, Marion, IL 62959.

Frugal duck and goose hunters can still enjoy their sport at minimal cost if they just do a little research and are willing to hunt on weekdays in public hunting areas. Check it out.

 

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