Located in the Mississippi River bottoms, Gardner Camp is a haven for migrating waterfowl and a waterfowl hunter's dream. Our location and habitat management make this Camp the area's best waterfowl hunting spot for youth. Three wells and numerous water control structures situated throughout the property ensures our ability to precisely flood and adjust water depths in ten different wetland management units. Two of these units are flooded corn fields and the remaining eight units are natural moist soil lakes covered with wild millet, smartweed and other duck food delights. In managing our natural moist soil units, we let the water do the work--wet in the Spring, dry in the Summer and wet in the Fall and Winter--so that native wetland vegetation grows and produces seeds. In fact, it is estimated that one acre of moist soil managed habitat can produce food for 1,000 ducks!
Our youth waterfowl hunts are one-of-a-kind hunts specifically focused on youth. Our instructors are experienced waterfowlers who focus on teaching youth in the blind about the entire process. Hundreds of top of the line decoys, mojos, duck trolleys and ice eaters are setup and ready for youth to get their first duck. We have two wood-frame 10-man blinds that sit over the water and one fully-outfitted pit hidden in the middle of flooded corn. Our weekend itinerary typically includes safety briefings, side-by-side transportation to the blind, hot breakfasts in the blind, plenty of hunting time, watching the dog retrieve, learning how to clean birds, lunch in Gardner Hall and a campfire.
Beginning in 2020, youth may apply to enter a lottery drawing to hunt at Gardner Camp. Youth must meet the following qualifications to apply:
- Must be 12 years of age at time of hunt
- Must have completed Illinois Hunter Safety Education Course (or other state equivalent)
- Must have an adult (21+) mentor to accompany youth on the hunt
- If 18 years of age, must still be in high school
- Must be from Adams, Pike counties of IL or surrounding counties
Applications are continuously accepted. Deadline to apply for the current year hunting season: July 15th. Lottery Drawing Date: August 1st
Youth are responsible for their own licenses and tags. Gardner Camp hunts are fully guided and we furnish blind breakfasts, decoy set-up, heated blinds, transportation to/from blind, bird and deer cleaning facility and instruction and hunting gear, upon request.
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