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Heartland Outdoors cover November 2017


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Recent entries



Crossbows legal, signature or not

Thu, August 24, 2017

SPRINGFIELD – While Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner had not yet signed a bill making crossbows legal for all hunters during archery season, that law will be in effect with or without his signature come Oct. 1 when bowhunters take to the timber.

“If it does get signed it will go into effect immediately,” said Ed Cross, director of communications for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. “If it goes to the deadline date of Sept. 22, it will be the same thing and will be effective immediately.

“Either way, crossbows will be allowed to be used this season.”

House Bill 2893 amends the Illinois Wildlife Code as such: “Provides that any person may use a crossbow to take wildlife during the appropriate archery season. Repeals crossbow provisions limiting the use of crossbows to specified conditions, together with a related definition. Effective immediately.”

That wording will not appear in the Illinois Digest of Hunting and Trapping Regulations, which has already been printed.

House sponsors of the bill were Rep. Jerry Costello, II (D-Smithton)  and Jeanne M. Ives (R-Wheaton). Sen. Neil Anderson (R-Andalusia) was the Senate sponsor.

“Expanding hunting opportunities for sportsmen and women in Illinois is crucial to the future,” said Rep. Costello. “Allowing the full-inclusion of crossbows in our state will help the recruitment, retention, and reactivation of hunters from all walks of life who may prefer to use a crossbow.”

Their bill passed with overwhelming support in the legislature – the bill passed 76-29 in the House and 51-3 in the Senate – if not from archery groups and some deer hunting groups concerned that crossbows will increase deer harvest.

The bill was sent to Rauner on July 22, which is late in the process according to Springfield insiders. He has 60 days to sign the bill before it automatically becomes law, Cross said.

Crossbow use has been steadily expanded in Illinois over the years.

Starting in 2012, any legally permitted hunter was allowed to start using crossbows from the second Monday following Thanksgiving through the end of archery season.

Prior to that, crossbow use had been restricted to persons age 62 or older or or those whose meet physical disability requirements and were issued permits.

After 2012, the law was changed again to allow anyone 18 and under to use crossbows during archery season.


Duck drawing moved by tornado

Tue, July 18, 2017

Due to the excessive storm damage in Delabar State Park and surrounding area last week, the Mississippi River Pool 18 Duck Blind Drawing will need to be conducted at the Big River State Forest site headquarters office on Saturday, Aug. 5.

The office is located five miles north of Delabar Park.

There will be a sign posted at the entrance of Delabar State Park informing the public of the change. 

Registration still begins at 10:00 a.m. and the drawing will begin at 2:00 p.m.


The Year of the Big Fish

Wed, July 05, 2017

bass illinois hybrid record

The best year for record fish in Illinois history added yet another chapter in June.

While a possible tiger muskie record was knocked out of contention following genetic testing, Robert Vericella of Bloomington caught a hybrid striper that did qualify as an Illinois best.

Fishing at Lake Bloomington on June 12, Vericella hooked into a fat fish that weighed 21 pounds, 7.2 ounces on a certified scale. That topped the prior record from Lake of Egypt – a 20-pound, 0.32-ounce chunk caught by David Gjelsvik in 1993.

Illinois Department of Natural Resources biologist Mike Garthaus confirmed the fish.

“We did not do a genetic test since pure striped bass have never been stocked in the lake or any nearby waters and we haven’t stocked pure stripers in the state much since 2000, for various reasons,” said Illinois fisheries chief Dan Stephenson.  “Also the meristic and morphological characteristics are that of a hybrid not a pure.”

Bloomington Lake has a reputation for a good population of hybrid stripers and summer can be a good time to catch them. Popular lures include blade baits, jigs and large rattling minnow baits.

The lake also features an excellent population of walleye, very good fishing for black and white crappie and good largemouth bass and channel catfish prospects.

While Bloomington Lake does have a public boat launch, there is a fee to use the ramp and fish. The City of Bloomington sell’s boat stickers. There is also a 40 hp outboard motor restriction. To learn more, call (309) 434-2161.

Vericella’s fish marks the seventh state record of 2017 – far and away the most recorded in one year.

“Normally we average roughly one state record per year so 2017 is definitely an outlier!” Stephenson said.
Less lucky was last month’s apparent record tiger muskie caught by Terry Livingston Sr. at the Goose Lake subdivision in Grundy County.

Genetic testing showed that Lexington’s fish was a pure muskie, according to Stephenson.

“It was a pure muskie not a tiger. I hated to hear that. It was beautiful fish and looked like a tiger to me but again, that’s why we do the testing,” Stephenson said. “[Biologist] Rob Miller has been in contact with the angler to let him know. He was understandably disappointed but still happy with the fish. 36 pounds 0.4 ounces is a very nice muskie in anybody’s book.”

The record from last month that was confirmed was Dan Norris’s 3.3-pound brown bullhead (right) caught at the Emiquon Preserve.


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