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New Hunter in Central IL with Questions!

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New Hunter in Central IL with Questions!

Old 09-13-2013, 08:39 PM
  #1  
Spike
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Default New Hunter in Central IL with Questions!

Hello everyone! I'm new here. First I suppose I'll start with a bit of an introduction. I'm pretty much a tomboy and live in Central IL. Fished and been home out in the timber since I was little, I ride a motorcycle and enjoy mushroom hunting and generally everything outdoors. My dad wasn't a hunter but I have a couple uncles who aren't very close to me that hunt and I always wanted to learn but never could. Other than them I never knew anyone who could show me the ropes.

Long story short, I finally took the safety class and passed and this is my first year with a hunting license. Currently getting a taste of hunting by blasting doves so far, but deer are going to be my highlight---What I'm really excited about hunting! I'm getting a bow in the next few weeks and will be practicing hard to throw myself out there when season is in. I have no access to private land as of now, so public it is. I intend to just bow hunt, as I didn't apply for the drawing for taking deer with a gun.

I live right by Clinton Lake and have grown up knowing every part of it. Last winter I started shed hunting and found some nice antlers out there and did a lot of scouting in the process. Also found a buck skeleton in some thick brush I think someone shot and lost by a creek. Put a lot of miles under the belt. I saw and mapped out some of the areas with the thickest sign and have some detailed ideas on where to try.

Is there anyone here who hunts Clinton Lake? What can you tell me about it when it comes to hunter pressure? I'm familiar with the stand rules and I intend to hunt on the ground. Later I may buy a climber. One of my biggest worries when hunting is running into someone else-I hear people can be real jerks out there. In the past while out walking around at one of the state parks with my dogs I had a hunter in a stand right off the hiking trail chew me out, I'll end up shooting some idiot if they all act like that. Lol.

If I hunt I plan to get up well before daylight and hope to beat the crowd. I also have weekdays off and plan to avoid the woods on weekends. Also I was told that most people can be lazy and don't walk far into the woods. Some of the areas I scouted were a 1/2 mile or even a mile walk. I guess time will tell if I run into anyone in these places.

I guess what I'm looking for is any tips or information about Clinton Lake deer hunting or any help in general like with public land hunting/scouting/what to expect, etc.. I'd be happy for any talk about it!

What areas should I focus on to hunt around and try and avoid other people? I've seen bottlenecks, heavily-used ridges, nearly impenetrable thickets ( where the buck died- possible escape path? ), small openings with rubs and trails leading through to a small bedding areas. What areas do people tend to overlook more than others?

Thanks so much for reading! ( if you could get through that wall of text )

Last edited by DeadPhoenix; 09-13-2013 at 08:43 PM.
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Old 09-14-2013, 07:20 PM
  #2  
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I have never hunted Clinton (camped and fished there a few years ago), but I hunt public land in the northern part of the state a lot. You have the right general ideas about public land -- the farther you can get away from others, generally, the better you will do. (Have a plan on how to get an animal out). If I recall, Clinton is long and narrow, spread out along the lake, with lots of parking lots, so it may be difficult to get away from people (you'd know better than I though, I suspect). It's not realistic to plan on avoiding everyone. You will bump into people from time to time no matter what you do, but most people are decent, in my experience. If you want to gun hunt, you don't have to give up on this year. There are a few permits left (there's a list on the IDNR website), and most sites allow walk-ons (for whatever reason, some people don't show up, and they lottery off the remaining tags for $5 per day). Talk to people in your area, there are surely some sites that are easier to walk on to. Also, on public land, have plenty of back up plans, someone may beat you to your spot.
Good Luck.
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Old 09-17-2013, 05:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Murdy View Post
I have never hunted Clinton (camped and fished there a few years ago), but I hunt public land in the northern part of the state a lot. You have the right general ideas about public land -- the farther you can get away from others, generally, the better you will do. (Have a plan on how to get an animal out). If I recall, Clinton is long and narrow, spread out along the lake, with lots of parking lots, so it may be difficult to get away from people (you'd know better than I though, I suspect). It's not realistic to plan on avoiding everyone. You will bump into people from time to time no matter what you do, but most people are decent, in my experience. If you want to gun hunt, you don't have to give up on this year. There are a few permits left (there's a list on the IDNR website), and most sites allow walk-ons (for whatever reason, some people don't show up, and they lottery off the remaining tags for $5 per day). Talk to people in your area, there are surely some sites that are easier to walk on to. Also, on public land, have plenty of back up plans, someone may beat you to your spot.
Good Luck.

Thank you for the reply!

I will probably only gun hunt if I find someone with private land. The people I talk to that do hunt refuse to go to Clinton to the area allowing shotgun for deer. They ALL have horror stories where people are shooting at other people and such. But that could be stories people tell about anywhere public where guns are allowed.

I will have to get out there and see. If anything, I can get up stupidly early when it's time to hunt and check for cars in the spots I'm looking for, too. You're right on the lake being narrow. But you can walk 'farther' in by simple lack of access in certain areas. There may be a stretch of timber with access only on one side and to get away you simply follow it up as far as you want to go. I'm not sure how heavy a deer is once field dressed but I can try using a drag. I think I could do it even if it killed me. Lol.
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Old 09-17-2013, 07:27 AM
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Murdy pretty much nailed it. I just want to add a few points about getting firearm permits to hunt public land here in Illinois, as I have seen a lot of misinformation on this site about what is required. Some State and Federal lands require site specific permits and some only require a permit for the County where the site is located. Most State owned land also requires a windshield permit that can be printed online at the IDNR website and also requires that you report your harvest. It can be confusing, so call the site in question or the IDNR if you're not sure. I can honestly say after spending 100's of hours both archery and gun hunting public land here in Illinois, I have never had anything happen that made me fear for my safety. Not saying it doesn't happen, just that it is not always the "wild west" situation that it is sometimes made out to be. In general, if you are willing to outwork the majority of hunters on a given site, hunting public land can pay off. Good luck and good hunting!
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Old 09-17-2013, 07:44 PM
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Like Kid, I have never had a problem on Illinois public land (been hunting it 6 years, 30 days a year maybe).

Don't underestimate what it takes to get one out of the woods -- especially if you are hunting alone and trying to get away from the parking lots. Carts are great, and a wheel barrow will work in a pinch, depending on the terrain. If you use a cart, think about how you will get the deer onto the cart. Have a plan. Think about field dressing as well. I layout everything I need before I start, so I don't have to be digging around in my pockets or pack with bloody hands, including a plastic bag to put my dirty tools into and paper towel and/or hand wipes, to clean up with afterward. I use a knife, bone saw, and butt out tool (from HS) plus rubber gloves, but all you really need is a knife. And, know where your going to take it when you get it out of the woods, especially early season, when it can be hot.

Good Luck.

Last edited by Murdy; 09-17-2013 at 07:48 PM.
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Old 10-02-2013, 08:05 AM
  #6  
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Thanks you guys for the tips! I bought a bow and had practiced shooting up until season started. Had also been scouting for awhile now and had some likely spots. One spot which was an oak ridge overlooking a shallow muddy cove (deer tracks were thick in the mud ) was where I picked for my first hunts. I saw deer in this spot when squirrel hunting and watched them drink and then go up that ridge into the oaks. Went out yesterday in the afternoon/evening and didn't see anything at all but lots of sign. Wind was at an angle, keeping it from going down the hill and I could watch my back as well.

Today was the same wind and situation. Had a buck wander through the tall grass and come to enter the oaks RIGHT where I broke through to enter and must have smelled where I passed through then circled around and beat it. Just after that I had the experience that I worried about--a hunter walked right up on me. He promptly apologized and left. After that I saw a large doe running off into the distance and then heard why-some guys talking loudly some odd distance away, never saw them though.

So, no chances so far but I'll keep trying.
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