Southern Illinois opens up great area for deer hunting PHIL POTTER, Tri-State Outdoors Sunday, July 23, 2006 What happens to previously mined lands in Illinois should be happening in Indiana. Instead of private development, Illinois chooses to provide miles of public outdoor recreation. Everyone already knows of the fantastic shooting complex and economic boom it's bringing to the microdot community of Sparta. Now it's Harrisburg's turn for the limelight. A premier 4,000-acre state fish and wildlife area will open on land formerly owned by Sahara Mining Co. For the past 25 years, the area has been generally off-limits, so the place is literally stiff with deer. Thanks to ongoing reclamation, bow hunters will get first crack via a special hunt. This hunt is open to residents and non-residents. It is by permit only and hunter numbers will be limited. Not all of the site will be open. Archers will have access to approximately 1,200 acres from Oct. 1 through Jan. 11, 2007. Hunters may apply to participate in any of the 15 one-week hunting periods. These applications must be received by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources by the close of business on Aug. 31. Applications may be obtained off the Illinois DNR web site. Successful applicants will be notified by mail by Sept. 15. Permits may be obtained from the IDNR Regional Office, located at 11731 on Illinois Route 37, by phone at 618-435-8138, or from the Saline County Fish and Wildlife Area on Glenn O. Jones Road in Equality at 618-276-4405. Only 30 bowmen per week will use the area. Each hunter may take a maximum bag of two deer. If archers see fall flocks of wild turkeys, they can't fling a shaft in their direction. The hunt is deer only. Hunters who are drawn will be issued a free windshield permit card that must be displayed when hunting the Sahara unit. These site permits must be returned to Saline County State Fish and Wildlife Area by Feb.1, 2007. Failure to do so results in loss of hunting privileges for next season. All deer stands must be removed at the end of the day and no nails or screws may be placed in trees. Hunters must show proof of a current Illinois hunting license and state-issued archery permit This initial hunt should yield some exceptional bucks and jumbo does.