Illinois Outdoors at
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Marc Anthony of Goodfield owns and operates Look Alive Taxidermy and Non Typical Hunter magazine. Anthony grew up in central Illinois and spent eight years as a commercial pilot before giving that up to spend more time with his wife Jan and three children, Victoria, Drake and Elesa. Anthony hunted on and off as a child but started seriously at age 30 and focuses on bowhunting for deer and turkeys. He's arrowed four bucks that meet the Boone and Crockett Club (net) standards and 20 Pope and Young Club qualifiers. Anthony is on the Pro Staff for Muzzy broadheads, Bear Archery, Vital Gear, Natural Predator, Non Typical Hunter and several other companies. He also is a member of the Outdoor writers Association of America, OWAA.


Non-typical Hunter

A Web log by Marc Anthony

Illinois hunting and fishing

Micromanaging your own ground

January 19, 2009 at 04:10 PM

It’s interesting reading about how the IL. deer herd should be managed lately. Everyone, including myself, has an opinion on how the IDNR should allow this, or deny that, or should limit this or budget for that.

I’ve written in the past on how people need to be governed. History has proved over and over that police are needed and laws must be written, etc. Humans lack self control, it’s a fact. If the DNR issues 4 buck permits a year, a hunter will most likely try to kill 4 bucks, whether they be small or large racked, simply because they are allowed to. If the law allows an unlimited amount of doe permits, a hunter might try to kill an unlimited amount of does (no matter what the population is), again, simply because they are allowed to. Self control is something that the DNR cannot instill into a person, that has to come from the individual. So, although we need to be governed as a whole, we can still take matters in our own hands.

The quality of the hunt is in the hands of the hunter, for the most part. I truly believe this is where 90% of our issues begin and where they end. The DNR can make rules, pass laws, do this and do that, but ultimately the final product is a result of the hunter’s discipline…simple as that. The hunter is not directly in control of the revenues from hunting permits, etc, that’s in the DNR’s hands and we can do very little in that area. The DNR (and our government) is responsible for our state parks, revenue distribution and so forth which in turn allows access for some to actually hunt. Not to get side tracked here, but what really scares me is the notion of even hunting state grounds. The last time I did, some clown almost killed me as he had mistaken me for a deer and tried to shoot me. Lets see, blaze orange on, gun in my hand, walking to my truck…..go figure that one out! That was 15 years ago when I used to gun hunt, can you imagine how dangerous that can be now that some of the state parks are closed? With the closing of these parks, that just makes the opened parks more pressured. So where did that leave me? I had the choice to find another place to hunt or to continue to take chances with an over crowded park (or to quit hunting altogether). I opted to buy land. That was a personal choice and with that choice came discipline. Discipline to manage the monetary funds that will provide for such a place, making sacrifices in other areas non-related to hunting, discipline to manage my own deer herd and so on.

With all of the issues related to our IL. deer herd, most of them can directly be handled by us, the hunter. Self control my friend! It really doesn’t make much difference how many permits are issued, what sex limitations there are or anything else. Make a plan, stick to it, and let it pay itself off. I hunt several small pieces of timber that weren’t worth one day of hunting but now after a few years, they’re as productive as ever. Selective shooting, a food plot and some man-made shelter created a real micro habitat worthy of some really nice bucks. In fact, I wrote an article last month about a mature doe that has busted me every year in which I was devoted to killing, but I have decided not to harvest her as she might be one of the reasons I am seeing mature bucks on that particular piece of property. A simple decision that may pay off for me next year. That piece of property has already produced several Popes and a nice Booner. FYI, it’s less that 10 acres! Remember, it was a real lousy piece when I first hunted it years ago.

I’m aware that not everyone can buy a piece of property, especially in today’s economy. In fact, I hunt more borrowed property than I hunt my own. Yes, it’s tough finding a good spot or even a friendly land owner, but it can be done. The good ole’ days are gone when you could just ask, that’s for sure, but you’d be surprised to find that some people welcome bartering. You know, trade a little bit of this for that, it still works. 

OK, so put a plan together!

1. Find a place and begin working on access.
2. Get out and do some scouting. Over a period of time, you’ll be able to see what the doe-to-buck ratio is.
3. The first year, start thinning out does, if needed.
4. Provide a food plot to attract the local deer to your property if needed.
5. Gather downed trees and stack them 3 or 4 high in several places to provide shelter.
6. Cut small paths to and from the feeding areas.
7. Consider tree stand placements along these paths.
8. Walk through your property from different angles to see what the deer see as they walk from these areas. You’ll be surprised how differently things look. You’ll also see how you’ll have to disguise yourself from those different angles. Sunlight, lack of obstacles, etc. are all things to consider when setting up.
9. Train yourself to use self-control! Letting the smaller ones walk will give you the choice of taking a mature deer or a smaller one, as shooting the small deer will give you no choice.
10. If you have a neighbor who would be interested in managing also, you could approach them with the same plan. If not, you can still make this work without them.

There is so much more a person can do to improve their property and the choices are endless. These are just some great places to start. Bottom line, discipline and control will reward you with fruits from your labor. Are you going to wait until Springfield fixes it all up for you? Don’t count on it. Do we still need enforcement? Sure do. Do we still need a DNR? Yep. How about rules and regs? Oh yea. Will all of the aforementioned take care of your deer herd? Nope.

Time to micromanage!


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