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07
Pheasants Willow Slough FWA
Located in Newton County on the border between Indiana and Illinois, Willow Slough FWA is one of the preeminent public-land pheasant-hunting areas in the state. There are many prime places to hunt on Willow Slough's 9,956 acres. But Area 13 is well noted for holding pheasants throughout the season.

Jim Whitted of Valparaiso has hunted pheasants at Willow Slough for more than a decade. "Area 13 is a good place, but it's very challenging. To make the most of this area's location, you need a hard-working dog that will bust the brush for ringnecks," he said.

In addition to the Slough's abundant acreage, pheasant hunters can also utilize the Sands property, which is located just across the highway. I hunted this property a couple of seasons ago, and the dogs went nuts on pheasants that ran and ran. Blocking techniques or "pinch" techniques that keep pheasants from running away like track stars should be considered when hunting the Sands.

Willow Slough operates on a "flip-flop" schedule with the Sands. That is to say, on one day the Sands is hunted for pheasants and on the next day areas in Willow Slough are hunted. If you can figure out the birds' daily movements, you can capitalize on some good hunting.

"The No. 1 rule for hunting pheasants is to hunt where you know the pheasants are. Hunting across from the Sands where the birds can fly across the highway into the Slough can pay off," Jim Whitted said.

If the spring of 2004 is favorable for pheasant broods, there's a real good chance there will be a lot of wild ringnecks at Willow Slough. However, even with a wet and cold spring, there will still be plenty of good pheasant hunting at this large FWA. This is because Willow Slough participates in the DFW's put-and-take pheasant-hunting program.

This program begins on the Saturday before Thanksgiving and will generally run for about nine days. If you haven't had much luck on wild birds, the put-and-take program assures you that pheasants will be where you're headed. At a price of $15 for two birds, the program is also a great bargain.

Because of the large turnout of hunters on the opening day of the pheasant season, there is a draw conducted at Willow Slough FWA. For more information about Willow Slough, call (219) 285-2704.

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