Upland hunting seasons in Illinois look promising


Mar 11, 2001
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Upland hunting seasons in Illinois look promising

By Tim Renken, St. Louis Post Dispatch.


By today's standards, Illinois upland hunters should have pretty good seasons this winter on rabbits, quail and pheasants.

According to the Department of Natural Resources, quail hunting should be a little better than last year, rabbit and pheasant hunting about the same.

In Illinois and elsewhere, upland hunting is declining in popularity as people lose their connections to the country and take up pursuits that require smaller blocks of time.

Last year, 88, 461 hunters bagged 525,891 rabbits. The kill was up 28 percent from 1999 but 10 percent below the average since 1995. As recently as 1991, more than 1 million rabbits were bagged in Illinois.

The outlook this year is fair with the statewide population index down slightly from 2000. The northern half of the state was up 3 percent; the southern half down 10 percent.

The best counties for rabbit hunters are Bond, Calhoun, Clay, Clinton, Madison, Marion and Wayne.

About the only way the quail situation can go in Illinois is up. Last year, 44,298 hunters bagged 290,310 birds. That's 32 percent below the previous season, 43 percent below the average since 1995 and the lowest estimated harvest ever.

Breeding bird numbers were down this spring, but good weather during the nesting season probably boosted the population of these short-lived birds.

Quail and other upland game are starting to benefit from changes in the Conservation Reserve Program rules since 1997. These rules allow the planting of more-friendly native grasses and forbs, plus strip disking and burning.

The best quail counties in the state are Brown, Hancock, Edwards, Franklin, Perry and Wayne, all within easy driving range of St. Louis area hunters.

The cold winter apparently whacked Illinois pheasants pretty good last year, but favorable nesting weather may have brought them back a bit this past summer.

The number of broods observed was down 26 percent from last year. The total number of chicks per brood, though, was up slightly.

The best counties for pheasant hunting in Illinois are all in the north and include the counties of Ford, Henry, Livingston, McLean, Mercer and Will.

Season dates, limits

Rabbits: North, Nov. 3-Jan. 8; South, Nov. 3-Jan. 22. Limit 4 per day, 10 in possession.

Quail: North, Nov. 3-Jan. 8; South, Nov. 3-Jan. 15. Limit, 8 per day with 20 in possession.

Pheasants: North, Nov. 3-Jan. 8, South, Nov. 3-Jan. 15. Limit 2 per day, 6 in possession.


Well-known member
Aug 20, 2002
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Speaking as someone that grew up in N. IL, the rabbit & pheasant populations have all but vanished in our area.  I'm not sure what caused it, but you don't see 'em around anymore.  Oh sure, you can see an occassional bird, but I gave up hunting them.

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