Featured Destinations Along the Way
SHAWNEE NATIONAL FOREST
The Shawnee National Forest in Southern Illinois offers a diverse array of hunting options, from trophy bucks and turkey to upland game and waterfowl. It would be wise to obtain maps before setting out to hunt the Forest because private land is interspersed throughout. It is the hunter’s responsibility to know the boundaries.
Seasons and bag limits set by the IL Department of Natural Resources also apply to the Forest. You need a valid hunting license and necessary permits for the species you are after. Deer and turkey permits are available from IDNR, along with habitat stamps. If hunting migratory waterfowl you must have a federal and state waterfowl stamp.
The Shawnee contains about 280,000 acres in Pope, Jackson, Hardin, Union, Alexander, Saline, Johnson and Gallatin counties. The headquarters is in Harrisburg, IL. President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared the purchase of land under the Illini and Shawnee Purchase as the national forest in September of 1939. Most of the purchase was said to be exhausted farmland. The Civilian Conservation Corps panted pine trees during the 1930s and 40s. The Forest is now home to many hardwoods trees and diverse plants found in the region.
Most of the land added to the Forest in its first decade of existence was exhausted farmland. Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, the Civilian Conservation Corps planted pine trees to prevent erosion and help rebuild the soil. However, the Forest is also home to many hardwood trees and other plant and animal species characteristic of the region.
Not far from Steamboat Springs in the center of a large open valley called North Park, is the town of Walden, Colorado, often called the Moose Capital. Elevation is 8,099 feet and the population is around 600. An early postmaster named Mark A Walden named the community, which was established in 1889 and incorporated in 1890.
Moose can be spotted in nearby State Forest State Park. The Moose Visitor Center will provide more information for your visit. Hunting, camping, and fishing are popular passtimes, along with cross country skiing, snowshoeing and snowmobiling in the Mt. Zirkel Wilderness and Routt National Forest.
Other activities include ghost town exploration, rodeos, OHV trails riding and exploring wildlife refuges. Walden is part of the Northwest Colorado Cultural Heritage Program, a nonprofit that highlights the region’s rich culture and heritage.
JIM EDGAR PANTHER CREEK
Central Illinois is home to one of the state’s largest public access areas, Jim Edgar Panther Creek State Fish and Wildlife Area. Hunting opportunities are many throughout the 16,550 acre mosaic of mature forest, grassland and hill prairie.
Since 1993 IDNR has managed the property for conservation and recreation.
Deer, turkey, dove, small game and upland game hunting is available. Fishing opportunities are abundant in the 25 acre Gridley Lake; 210 acre Prairie Lake and 35 acre Drake Lake.
Largemouth bass, bluegill, green sunfish and Muskie are stocked, along with fall trout fishing.
There are 24 miles of mountain bike trails, a 3-mile hiking/jogging trail and 26 miles of equestrian trails.
There are 9 cabins available and 84 campsites in addition to an equestrian campground with 51 sites.