Illinois Outdoors at PrairiestateOutdoors.com
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deerhead

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

Don’t shoot the messenger

January 21, 2009 at 09:22 AM

Hey, the IL. Deer Classic is just around the corner! I love going to the classic each year, not only as a vendor but as a spectator. In our booth, I have the opportunity to visit with hunters all over IL. and beyond. As a spectator, I enjoy seeing what IL. has to offer in terms of monster racks. I also love to buy that real hot habanero jerky that will burn your lips off! It’s just a fun time all over.

With the Deer Classic comes rack scoring. As you know, the antlers are scored and some are entered into the contest. After they are scored, they hang them in a room designated just for onlookers to observe. When I walk in that room, I’m in awe. What a cool place to be! It’s funny as a taxidermist, I can tell the difference between the styles of workmanship among the heads. I’ll agree, some are absolutely beautiful and some are, lets say, less than that. Without poking fun at others work, I’ll be the first to admit that Central IL. is blessed to have some great taxidermist. I can tell the difference right off the bat between a Rocke head, an Emkin’s head or even one of my heads. There are others out there that look great also, I’m just not aware of whom the taxidermist was. All in all, artistic value is appreciated when recreating a whitetail head properly.

One common grumble I hear all too often is the remark directed to the antler scorers. We’ve all heard of the “rack shrinkage syndrome”, which you know, comes right after you drop a buck that you think is a monster and it turns out to be not as large as you expected it to be. Well, that happens at the scoring table also. B & C, Pope & Young scorers have to follow a certified system when scoring a rack. As you are probably aware, there is the “typical and the non-typical” categories in which each has its own criteria. Yes, there is a deduction for this and a deduction for that, and when it’s all over….POW! That really hurts! When I hear someone complain about the guy who scored their head, I try to very carefully explain to this disgruntled hunter that it’s the system and not the scorer who gave you that score. The people who score your heads, do it for free! They spend their gas money, they don’t get paid a wage and they donate their time away from their family and so forth. Now, granted, they obviously love this sport or they wouldn’t do it, but they didn’t create the system nor do they have it out for you!

The B & C system has always been controversial. Some people won’t give it the time of day and others respect it very much. Remember, this system was actually created for conservation reasons. Teddy Roosevelt started the Boone and Crockett club as a way to help record and manage our big game. Before his intervention, many of our big game animals were on the brink of extinction. By harvesting the larger animals and letting the smaller ones go, it creates a managed cycle. No, I’m not trying to start a controversial topic here about what to shoot or what not to shoot, just merrily explaining the basis of this program. This program along with controlled hunting was the beginning of what we have today! Man, I loved Teddy R. He was a “mans man” who loved hunting! We sure could use another leader who was as passionate as he was for the outdoors.

Now most hunters have come to the conclusion that a set of antlers is a trophy in the eyes of the beholder and I agree. A trophy to me is different than a trophy to someone else. If you’re cool with that, you will not be upset with whatever score you get from your head. If you’re not, well, you had better start passing up a bunch of bucks because that’s what it’ll take to get your heads into the B & C, Pope and Young books. The most common misconception when a hunter “self scores” his/her head, is the fact that they end up adding all of the antler material together for a final score. It’s much more involved than that. In a typical category, symmetry is everything. In the non-typical category, it is first scored as a “typical”, then deductions take place, at that time the non typical tines are added to the score. Even at that, you must have at least 15” (I believe it’s 15”) of non typical tines to add or they all become deductions! Ouch!!! You want to know how much that hurts? I saw a 201” monster this year that a guy brought for me to me mount, that netted in the high 160"s. No, it wasn’t a Booner. Yes, it would make the “awards category” but not the “all time high” listing, which is what most people want. I had to explain over and over to this gentleman to have it professionally scored but it would not make the B & C book. Was it still a monster? You bet it was! Would I shoot it? Are you kidding, of course I would! His remark, “Well the if the scorer doesn’t see it as a Booner, he’s a crook”...go figure?

As of now, I think I’ll be at the PSO booth this year with Jeff and some others, so I hope some of you will stop on by to say “Hi”. I may even offer you some real hot jerky! In the meantime, if you get a head scored, I wish you the very best! Be sure, if you get the chance, to say “Thanks” to the person who scored your head, no matter what the score is as they did it as a service to you. Remember, don’t shoot the messenger!

 

 

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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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Illinois hunting and fishing

Husband and wife score!

January 18, 2009 at 08:58 AM

Darel and Peggy Martin scored on a pair of Mclean Co. bucks this year. This is Peggy’s first deer! FYI, Darel is the field director for Whitetails Unlimited and covers all of IL. and IN.

I’ll be announcing some of the upcoming WU banquets soon, so check back often. If you haven’t been to a WU banquet, you’re missing out on a good time! Great food, great auctions and great raffles….second to none. Better yet, most of the proceeds go to conservation efforts towards our deer herd and habitat. I usually attend the Pekin event, which is in April and the Eureka event, which is in September. There are many more including Bloomington, etc. but I’ll announce those dates when they are available.

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