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Northern IL Public Bow Hunting Land

Old 08-21-2011, 03:00 PM
  #1  
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Default Northern IL Public Bow Hunting Land

As a new hunter, I figured it would be best to give deer hunting a shot on public land before attempting to go private. Close, and therefore preferred, sites will be bolded and ones that are farther will be in normal font. Kishwaukee River FWA, Rock Cut SP, and Rockton Bog SNA. Castle Rock SP, Franklin Creek SNA, Lake Le-Aqua-Na SP, Lowden-Miller SF, Lowden Memorial SP, Shabbona Lake SRA, and White Pines SP. Has anyone hunted these locations, and if you have, how were the results and were there any special regulations? Thanks for helping a fellow hunter in need!
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Old 08-22-2011, 06:48 PM
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I hunted castle rock & Lowden Miller for several years before finding some private land. Castle Rock is a great place, the good spots are a hard walk to get in, Lowden Miller is too crowded but has easy access to the areas.
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Old 08-23-2011, 10:55 AM
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Thanks. Have you heard anything about the others?
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Old 08-23-2011, 02:06 PM
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Originally Posted by nwwaterpolo11 View Post
As a new hunter, I figured it would be best to give deer hunting a shot on public land before attempting to go private. Close, and therefore preferred, sites will be bolded and ones that are farther will be in normal font. Kishwaukee River FWA, Rock Cut SP, and Rockton Bog SNA. Castle Rock SP, Franklin Creek SNA, Lake Le-Aqua-Na SP, Lowden-Miller SF, Lowden Memorial SP, Shabbona Lake SRA, and White Pines SP. Has anyone hunted these locations, and if you have, how were the results and were there any special regulations? Thanks for helping a fellow hunter in need!
Are you looking at archery or firearm?

Don't know how much help this is but I moved up from Florida and have never hunted public land before. So I have been doing some research for archery season.

You probably already know this but the Illinois DNR site has alot of useful information including data for how many hunters hunt each site and how many deer are taken each year.

here is the link

http://www.dnr.illinois.gov/hunting/Pages/default.aspx

Depending on archery or firearm, there are different rules.

Generally most sites have a printable windshield card that must be printed out anytime and must be displayed in your vehicle while hunting, and there is no limit to how many people can hunt that day.

Some of the busier sites and smaller sites have daily quotas that are alloted on a first come first serve. There are also a few archery sites that allot a small number of hunters a 4-7 day permit on smaller land. The deadlines to enter the drawings are different from site to site but a few end on August 31st.

So check out the DNR site and print out the "Hunter Fact Sheet" for each area.


My understanding is Shabbona, Castle Rock, and Lowden all get very crowded.

Your best bet is to print out some typographic maps of each site, and try to find one that has some rugged terrain a mile or so away from a parking lot.

Although you won't be the only one doing it. Most people are not going to carry a 30 pound climbing stand, bow, backpack and gear 2 miles into the woods through water, hills, and ravines, so that is probably the best bet.

Less human contact, less spooky deer, but if you go thru the effort of hiking out that far you may want to spend the whole day in the field at a morning and evening spot.

Although this sounds easy in theory. Most of the sites have tons of parking spaces, trails, and access. so it may be hard to find a secluded spot, especially when there are hard-core local guys that have been hunting these places for years.

Good luck!
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Old 08-23-2011, 03:15 PM
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It would be for archery. And this "fact sheet" actually says how many hunters hunted the land and how many deer were taken? Awesome. And do you know where I might be able to get some topo maps?
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Old 08-23-2011, 06:05 PM
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There are areas of Castle Rock that are a very tuff terrain to get into that has some great hunting. There are good deer taken off LM & Shabbona but those places get crowded quick.
Look at zone B @ Castle rock, no trails are cut in this area so it weeds out a lot of the hunters. If I didn't have access to private land Castle Rock is the only public land I would hunt. I've seen 2 that would go 150-160 & several in the 120-140. I had a 23 1/2" wide 10pt @ 17yds & couldn't get a shot on him, he was taken a week later, thats how I know how wide he was.
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Old 08-23-2011, 06:06 PM
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The fact sheets are somewhat misleading for total hunters in some areas because they include all hunters and a lot of places have walk in pheasant hunting which throws the numbers off a lot. The best bet is to call and ask when someone will be on staff there that works during the hunting season and talk with them. These people that work during the hunting season know where the most deer are taken and generally don't mind telling a few people where they see most the deer. Remember, most of these people that wprk there spend 40 or so hours a week there and see a lot that goes on. I know one spot I hunted for pheasant would tell me that during deer season all the hunter would trek way back in the woods and he would see deer within a 100 yards of the check in station. I'd say put in the driving and talk with the people who work at the parks and they'll help you al lot.

Google Maps works well for me as well as Bing Maps. Usually you can tell the spots that are the farthest from the road as well.
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Old 08-23-2011, 09:00 PM
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Yeah the hunter sheets are confusing because they do not tell you "who was hunting what" but you can at least see how many deer were taken on the land with bow and gun, and the dnr also has some "rough" maps showing the where to park and where to hunt at each location.

I would suggest spending some time on the website and then calling around.

It looks like Castle Rock only allows around 30 hunters per day.

Lowden Miller doenst have a daily quota but it look like it is covered in trails. Easy Access = More People

http://www.dnr.illinois.gov/hunting/...tingAreas.aspx

The link above takes you to the page for printing "harvest reports" and it has all the special instructions for each specific public area.

Everything appears to be on this site except for Federal Land.
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Old 08-24-2011, 06:03 AM
  #9  
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The quality of public gets better the farther you get away from Chicago. I've hunted a lot of them. I go 4 hours south. This year am mentoring a youth and due to proximity must take him to one of the sites you mention. Not excited about it.
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Old 08-24-2011, 01:14 PM
  #10  
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Everything appears to be on this site except for Federal Land.
So... Is there any federal land?
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