One of the many pleasures of being in Clinton County, IL in the late fall and winter is the thrill and sport of hunting. Both the areas around Carlyle Lake and Eldon Hazlet State Park are the primary areas for both deer, turkey, and waterfowl hunting. If you are new to the area, or just starting in the sport, here is what you need to know!
If you were born on or after January 1, 1980, in order to obtain any type of license or permit for hunting in IL, you must first complete an online hunter safety class. Once that is done, you may continue with the purchase of whatever license you need based on the type of hunting you are considering.
Did you know that this area of Illinois is well known for spectacular waterfowl hunting? This includes several types of ducks, geese, and woodcocks. The two prime areas for waterfowl hunting are Carlyle Lake and Eldon Hazlet.
A federal regulation passed in 1934 required hunters to purchase Migratory Waterfowl Stamps, or “duck stamps” in order to hunt migratory waterfowl. The purpose of the collection of funds was for the purchase and lease of lands to be included in the National Wildlife Refuge System. These lands provide important breeding, migrating, and a wintering habitat for waterfowl. To date, stamp funds have totaled $800 million and have been used to protect 5.7 million acres of wildlife habitat throughout the nation. The cost of the stamps is currently $25.
In 1975 Illinois hunters began the Illinois Migratory Waterfowl to provide funds to manage and acquire waterfowl and wetland habitat within the state. Funds raised are also used to conserve important grassland and wetland habitat on Canadian breeding grounds. Many of the ducks and other waterfowl that visit Illinois originate from here. The current cost of the Illinois Stamp is $15. On average, over 60,000 stamps are sold annually.
Both of these stamps must be purchased, along with the registration in the HIP program (Harvest Information Program). The HIP registration is free and must be updated annually if you hold a lifetime license.
The deer season has begun and continues through January 16, 2022. There are specific dates based on the method used: archery, muzzleloader, or firearm. Make sure you check the Illinois Department of Resources for details!
Carlyle Lake is the largest man-made lake within IL with more than 28,000 acres of water and 11,000 acres of land. It is managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. There are many types of wildlife found in the area around Carlyle Lake. As part of the wildlife management system, crops including sunflowers, corn, beans, winter wheat, clover, and millet are planted in several areas around the lake to create an optimal wildlife habitat. Although the area is particularly well known as being a top waterfowl hunting area, and a mid migration resting area for many species, there are quality opportunities for hunting white-tailed deer as well.
Eldon Hazlet State Park is a 3,000-acre site on the western shore of Lake Carlyle. Wildlife abounds in the park, including deer, red foxes, raccoons, squirrels, and woodchucks. An estimated 400 acres of woodlands, fallow grass fields, and agricultural fields are open for general hunting programs. They even offer a disabled archery deer program!
Once you have harvested your deer, you have some choices as to where you should go for processing. There are three local processors, but currently only Scott’s Processing and Behrmann’s are processing deer.
Late fall and winter hunting in Clinton County, IL has a lot to offer! With world-class waterfowl as well as deer, you are sure to have a successful season!